What a blast! 5 extremely talented comics in little more than 24 hours. Each one a standout. Time to get back to real life and hit the road back to Ottawa. Rob has found a breakfast spot on the way out of the city, a few blocks in from Decarie Blvd. that looks promising: Prohibition. An eclectic, smallish basement eatery that styles itself as southern/soul. We arrive a few minutes before 11 and are lucky to get two seats at the bar. Behind us people are turned away. Rain overnight shuts the patio down, but it reopens around 11:30. Inside, the place oozes modern hipster, dark walls, light tables, one red tiled wall, and some artwork. Noisy patrons, chatting, greeting and eating make Prohibtion a party you want to join.
Once again we are greeted in English, and the crowd is speaking English. I find this comforting but odd. I almost never encounter French spoken in service in Montreal. I guess they prefer to go with English rather than listen to me butcher French. We settle at the bar and peruse the short, but intriguing menu. Every dish is appealing, from Fried Chicken with French Toast to Heuvos Rancheros to Blueberry Compote Ricotta Pancakes. Hard choices here. Sadly we are driving shortly and have to forgo the breakfast cocktail bar. And I’m not just talking Mimosas.
Rob is sticking to the theme (in his head) and orders the Fried Chicken and French Challah Toast. I’m going a little more Quebequois and settle on the Breakfast Poutine. Rob, I will note here does not “get” poutine. He likes fries, he likes, gravy, he likes cheese. He does not see the point of them together. What is to get, seriously? I think his first 3 months on American soil have done some damage. Anyways… the poutine arrives and it is marvelous. Classic, well made fries doused liberally in salty, tasty brown gravy, topped with white cheese curds and finished with a fried egg over easy. Oh yeah….and lots and lots of candied bacon.
Rob’s chicken and French toast, from the measly piece he gave me, was divine. The french toast was almost donut like and the chicken was crunchy and moist. Truth be told, I may not have shared even that much with him.
If we lived in Montreal, I could see spending a good deal of brunch time here. I would certainly make an effort to try every menu item.
Late July finds us in Montreal once again for Just for Laughs, the hugely popular ,and largest, comedy festival in the world. Friday night had us take in Ron White and one of our faves, Mike Birbiglia, two immensely different comedy styles, making for a very entertaining evening. Saturday, is packed with Greg Proops, the self-styled “smartest man in the world”, Mark Maron and the very edgy Jim Norton at midnight. Because our day and a half whirlwind tour is so packed with comedy, we have little time to have a leisurely meal in one of Montreal’s many high end establishments. We are on an eat and run schedule. We also are spending most down time at the bar in the Hyatt, where you are more likely than not to run into the talent, comedy giants who are happy to say hi. These are the superstars of the comedy world, hanging with each other, busting each other’s balls and without entourage to keep the plebs away, so we grab a cocktail, blog and people watch.
We get a rare morning to sleep in Saturday with no furry assault alarm clock. After a leisurely start to the day we head off to Rue Notre Dame to a little real-deal diner, Le Gros Jambon.
We arrive just before the late morning rush and grab stools at the open kitchen/short order station. Waitstaff is friendly and serves us in lightly accented English. Indeed most of the customers appear to be English speaking.
The diner is narrow and offers diner stool seating only. Gold flecked formica bar tops, Route 66 wall paper, creamy yellow and mint green walls, license plates, a lack of A/C and a respectable amount of built up “patina” give the resto an authentic aura. But Le Gros Jambon is not a throwback. The menu and the soundtrack are updated and modern.
We get settled in with menus and coffees and OJ. I spy chicken and waffles on the menu and am tempted. We are headed on a two week road trip to the Southern USA in a month where they invented this culinary giant that has been making it’s way north. And so with that in mind I go with the interesting option, Mushroom Toast, which I have never seen anywhere on any menu. Rob, it seems, cannot wait it out and succumbs to the chicken and waffles.
From our vantage point we watch the cook dip fresh chicken and drop it in the pressure fryer. Meanwhile a second cook manning the flat top is doing the dance with several patrons orders. He then dunks Texas toast in a creamy mixture, I assume is mushrooms, and fries it like French toast. In a saucier pan he cooks the finishing sauce, which smells heavenly like a classic mushroom, cream and white wine concoction.
The Mushroom Toast arrives plated on a pig shaped dish. The bread is nicely done and topped with a perfect runny egg, a good amount of smoked meat and then topped with the creamy, delicious sauce. On the side is a hash brown, a loose, home made potato patty, crisp and dark from the flat top. A small container of what can only be canned Libby’s beans also graces the plate. I don’t mind that the beans aren’t home made. They are lightly sweet and go perfectly with the toast. Would have liked more beans.This could be a happily vegetarian meal without the smoked meat. Sorry no pic…I screwed it up :(.
Rob’s chicken and waffles came with the same beans and hash brown, a large, round, crisp, chewy waffle topped with a leg and breast of freshly fried chicken and doused in a grainy mustard maple syrup. The chicken was surface-of-the-sun hot as it was right out of the pressure fryer. Giving it a little time to cool, beans and hash browns were sampled, and photos were taken. The chicken was perfect with the sauce providing a sweet and vinegary bite.
With contented tummies we pay the bill as the diner begins to get quite crowded and a little bit too hot. Pro tip: turn on that oscillating fan. Off to enjoy our second day at Just for Laughs.
Our first morning in Vancouver scouting ‘hoods brings us to Dunbar and a small Triple D eatery called Jethro’s Fine Grub. The black, white and grey minimalist joint sits about 30-some.
Every single seat, whether on purpose or not, I can’t tell, needs reupholstering, but are comfy. Noisy, overly so, with a nondescript soundtrack, families and local teens, it has an ambitious and very interesting menu. Lots of takes on Southern USA classics.
Two menu choices interest me immediately, chicken fried steak and the breakfast burrito – wet. I will choose the steak if it is made fresh. Our friendly, well inked waitress tells me they bring it in fresh then freeze it. Sigh. What can you expect north of the Mason-Dixon line. So I go with the burrito. Rob will have the “South of Denver” omelette.
My burrito is ginormous. I manage only half of it. Too bad because it is delish. Chocked full of a fluffy egg omelette, well made cafe potatoes (Jethro’s passes the potato test), green chilies, tomatoes, avocado, onions and chunks of spicy chorizo. The burrito, served up fresh, not reheated under a salamander, is tasty and not smothered in guacamole or sour cream. Instead it is served by request – wet. Wet is a well made, peppery, white cream gravy.
Rob’s omelette was full of excellent pulled pork, coarsely pulled and lightly sauced allowing the sweet, smoky pork to shine, onions and jalapenos. He subbed in their corn cake for toast. The cake was exactly what he had hoped for, a high proportion of corn meal with spices and jalapeno peppers baked right in. Excellent.
Jethro’s is a creative gem of a breakfast spot. There are several menu items we would love to try. A peek at the lunch menu confirmed that this place needs to be returned to. Just don’t come with a hangover.
On a business trip to Philadelphia, I paid a visit to one of the city’s more reputed Cheesesteak joints, Steve’s Prince of Steaks, named to directly challenge on the of the leading cheesesteak places in Philly, Pat’s King of Steaks. There are many debates as to who has the best but Steve’s winds up on the top 5 lists and that’s good enough for me.
The place is almost entirely clad with stainless steel inside and brightly lit by fluorescent lights. The ambiance is almost hostile — “eat quickly and get the hell out”, it seems to be saying. There are 2 windows, one for ordering sandwiches and one for fries and drinks. You make separate orders with separate wait times and separate cashes. Place your order and step aside, then get called from the same window to pick up your order. I got called at the same time for each of my sandwich and my drink and one window was quite upset that they had to call my order twice. Oh well, their system, their problem.
There’s a very specific 0rdering protocol, kind of like the soup Nazi. If you say, “one American with”, you get a cheesesteak with American Cheese and onions. They roll their eyes and will not budge until you follow protocol. The default cheesesteak is made with Cheez Whiz (really!) and other variations include provolone and Swiss. You can also ask for mushrooms and roasted peppers on your sandwich. I order “one American with” and complete it with hot peppers and pickles at the toppings bar between the windows.
It’s delicious. It’s rich and meaty and the bun is soft. Definitely worth of being an iconic regional food. Beats the hell out of Chicago’s Italian Beef, which is a big WTF and the popularity of which is an utter mystery.
Steve’s is not just for tourists. The place is full of business people, ordering and sitting and eating or bringing back sandwiches for the office. The menu features cheesesteaks of course, but there are other things like burgers and hotdogs on the menu and an assortment of hoagies (subs for us Canucks), but every person who came into the place were ordering cheesesteaks.
Spent the morning at 59th and Lex, also known as Bloomingdale’s. After a productive spree, I headed back to the Meat Packing District to meet up with Rob and grab lunch at Bubby’s, a short walk from our hotel, The Standard.
Bubby’s, a scratch kitchen, immediately comfy with wood tables and chairs, exposed brick, a well stocked bar and lots of natural light, also houses an old school soda fountain. This is our chance to try an honest to goodness egg cream. They serve chocolate and vanilla. We opt for chocolate to share. An egg cream consists of chocolate syrup. soda water and milk. The drink, much lighter in texture than a milk shake and less sweet, is quite nice and refreshing. You can really taste the soda water.
For lunch we both ordered the Portland fried chicken and biscuit sandwich, two Ommegang Witte wheat beers and sides of coleslaw, mac and cheese and baked beans. The chicken, crispy and not greasy, I find a tad salty. This sandwich is served with honey mustard and chopped mustard greens. The greens are a revelation, great texture, mildly bitter, they really complement the chicken. The biscuit is decent but a little tough on the bottom. We got a choice of two sides and opted for a third. The sides are not overly large but perfect for two to share. Coleslaw is creamy and unremarkable, baked beans are sweet, smoky and have a nice heat, mac and cheese is excellent, cheesy but not gloppy.
Tonight, our final night in New York, we are having dinner at the highly recommended Standard Grill which is attached to our hotel. The Grill exudes old world ambiance with some art deco features. The flooring is a lovely, warm copper penny tile.
We get settled into a red leather, tufted booth and peruse the updated classic menu. Radishes and chunks of Parmesan cheese are delivered to the table. Salty and sharp, they compliment pretty much any cocktail. Bread and butter arrive, the bread in a paper sack. They take bread seriously here and the three small baguettes are salted and perfectly chewy.
We decide on a dozen oysters from the raw bar. I order a Jackie 60 — mezcal, Grand Marnier, agave, lime and smoked sea salt rim. Rob orders a Continental Drift — reposado tequilla, lime, agave, curried mango and smoked sea salt. Our oysters arrive, perfectly shucked and accompanied by a well made red wine vinegar mignonette. I swallow one sweet, briney oyster and wash it down with the mezcal cocktail. What an amazing combination! The smokey lime cocktail is the best thing I have ever paired an oyster with. Wow. Must duplicate these flavors at home.
For starters we are splitting the iceberg wedge salad. It arrives on two plates and I explain to the waiter that we ordered only one to share. He assures me this is one order that they shared on two plates. This would be a massive serving for one. The lettuce is chilled and perfectly crisp. It is generously but not over sauced in a buttermilk dressing and topped with crispy bacon, fried shallots, mild blue cheese and dried cherries. A truly delectable salad.
As we sip a nice Napa cab our mains arrive, medium rare strip steaks with chimmichuri sauce. Sides are separate. We chose the creamy spinach, crisp potatoes and the One Good Pickle that Rob insisted on. Our steaks are grilled a perfect medium rare. The chimmichuri sauce is excellent but spare. I would have preferred some on the side. Rob disagrees and thinks the amount is perfect and allows the steak to shine. He is wrong as usual.
The crisp potatoes are just that. The pickle is young. crisp, tasty and not too salty. The creamy spinach is delicious. The green taste is slightly garlicky and nicely creamy.
Dessert is offered and the menu is interesting. I am interested in the Wake and Bake, warm chocolate cookies with milk or the rhubarb crostata. They also offer a slice of birthday cake. Very nice. Unfortunately we are too full to be tempted and finish our meal with very excellent cappuccinos served with a square of very good dark chocolate.
The Standard Grill offers superb fare with attentive table service. The washrooms are notable. The men’s and ladies’ are separated by a see through chain curtain and may as well be together. It is easy to miss the male and female silhouettes on the floor directing you to your gender side. You come out and wash up in a trough together. There is a a single male attendant who seems to spend all his time on the ladies’ side. This is disconcerting as the stalls are open below and their is a one inch gap between the door and the side of the stall. Just weird. An experiment, I guess but it’s just wrong.
Today is perfect. Sunny, a little cloudy, heading towards a nice 17 degrees. A good day to walk the 1.3 miles of the Highline, the abandoned, elevated section of rail that has been converted into a park. I have seen the Highline in the fall when it was home to grasses and late daisies. I wanted to see it in the spring, green and bursting with colour. Winter has been long and harsh everywhere in the north, and it appears that spring is a bit delayed here in New York City as well.
Many plants were about to bloom and that was a little disappointing. However as we progressed along the rail, a few plants had made the effort and all was not lost. The Highline boasts some remarkable views of the city in an area that is very industrial and where aesthetics is not even an afterthought. You can hop on and off the park at various spots to grab a bite. We went to street level at 23rd street and had a quick breakfast of heuvos rancheros on the sunny patio of The Half King, a neighbourhood joint, hosting locals, families and some pups.
After our tour of the Highline, we cabbed it to the Chelsea Market. The market is very crowded with locals and tourists. We managed to hop into a few shops we had visited before and settle on a bench to have a lunch of an authentic lobster roll.
Tonight we are headed to the Hill Country BBQ. Promises of Kreuz sausage dance in my head. NYC has experienced a real renaissance in BBQ recently, and the culture is real. When we arrive at 7pm, the place is boisterous. We are seated at basically a communal table.
Blue Moons are ordered and cardboard troughs are delivered. At Hill Country you line up at the meat counter and then the sides counter. The line moves quickly. We order a pound of the pork ribs, a jalapeno cheese and a regular sausage link, burnt ends, corn pudding, potato salad and corn bread.
The meat is wrapped in butcher paper like at Kreuz Market in Texas. Unlike in Texas, they provide forks. We unwrap and dig in. The ribs are perfectly smoked with a nice peppery crust and a deep, penetrating, rosy smoke ring. A dark, sweet, tangy but not smoky sauce is provided on the side.
The jalapeno sausage is as delicious as we remembered. Spicy and juicy. The cheese is not evident but no matter. This is an awesome sausage with a great snap. The regular sausage is merely good as it must bow down in the presence of its spicy brother. The burnt ends are dry and hardly worth it. This is my second experience with this “delicacy” and I am hard pressed to see the allure. Our dinner is rounded out by some decent sides. The eggy, well made potato salad is good but the sweet corn pudding is better. Corn pudding is a lot like a corn fritter but not fried. The corn bread was good and made better by a butter with orange rind added.
April in the city. Have been trying to get to New York in the Spring for some time now but outrageous airfares have kept me grounded. Even I refuse to pay $1200 for a 57 minute flight. I want to see the Highline in spring. Have seen it once before in late fall when it was glorious with grasses and daisies, I am figuring it will be quite spectacular in spring. Ottawa is having a particularly cold spring coming off of a brutally long winter, airfares are somewhat less and so we booked late and arrived this afternoon. We left gray, drizzling Ottawa and arrived to a sunny mild day in the Big Apple, where a good many of the trees are leafed out and or in bloom. The streets and parks are alive with pedestrians and markets. Saw my first tulips of the season today.
Traffic was hellish from LaGuardia, but it gave us time to soak up the sights. I think it took longer to get from LaGuardia to our hotel, The Standard in the Village, than it did to fly here. Seriously. Serious traffic. But we are here, the digs are quaint (except for the Arctic air in the hallways and the annoying housekeeping staff yelling up and down the halls to each other), time to unpack and find a light nosh and a cocktail. We need venture no further than the hotel lobby, to the Standard Plaza. The patio is full but we manage to find seating in the crowded lounge open to the patio. Drinks and food menu is relatively simple and that is exactly what we want after traveling a good part of the day.
We order cocktails to start. Baha Mama and a spicy pale ale cocktail. Both are well made and refreshing. Charcuterie and a veggie plate will satisfy until our 7 pm dinner. Noshes arrive and we dig in. The charcuterie plate is simple, good quality but ordinary, consisting of prosciutto, salami, mortadella, crostini and a very nice fruit compote with lots of sweet and clove notes. The vegetable basket was a wonderful surprise. Nothing ordinary about it. Pickled fennel and cauliflower, lightly salted carrot and celery batons, meaty cerignola olives, salted and dressed radishes, perfectly sweet red and yellow grape tomatoes, toasted nuts, garlicky red pepper hummus and served with an oiled and grilled, very thin and flaky flat bread as well as fresh herbs, tarragon, parsley, basil and mint. Great for dipping or rolling into the bread for a little sandwich. Quite simply the tastiest and most creative veggie plate I have ever had in a restaurant.
Dinner tonight is just down the street from The Standard. Fig and Olive is a bustling place at 7pm, early for dinner by New York standards, but this is a neighbourhood place. It is a bit noisy when we come in and the place exudes a rustic sophistication with a casual vibe. Tables are set with white linens and small oil lamps which add a warm glow but actually make menu reading a possibility. The walls are open shelving which houses their wine selection. Ceiling fans and wicker shrouded lights take the space casual. Friendly staff are in the familiar black pant/white shirt getup.
Rob, not one to pass up a martini, orders their signature drink, the Dirty Martini, made with house-made brines. Our waitress warns him it is a bit earthy. This only encourages him, and she brings him a damn fine drink. For dinner we decide to share their house Fig and Olive Salad, a dish of Mixed Olives, Chicken Tangine for Rob and Chicken Provincale for moi. Tonight’s wine will be a most excellent Pinot Noir, Mateo Loring.
The salad is quite sizable and we are sharing. It is lightly dressed with olive oil and vinegar which perfectly compliments the fine ingredients. Young greens, spring onions, soft, sweet Calmyrna figs, plump walnuts, tiny black, pitted olives, slivered green apples, cherry tomatoes, creamy Gorgonzola and mild Manchego cheeses combine to make a fresh, crisp, elegant salad.
Rob wins dinner tonight. His tagine is a marvel of flavours, with hints of harrissa and saffron. It was served with a perfect and fluffy couscous with a trio of add-ins, almonds, a mint sauce and a saffron oil.
I chose my chicken because I love the flavours of herb de Provence, especially the lavender. I make this dish at home and it is amazing. Fig and Olive’s Chicken Provincale is moist and golden. Perfectly roasted but without the signature flavours I was expecting. It was accompanied by what I will assume is a very excellent ratatouille. I am not a fan of this French specialty but I won’t hold that against the restaurant. I don’t care for the texture or the eggplant. Roasted potatoes and a lovely, flavourful sauce of parsley mint and olive oil round out the dish.
The olive dish we ordered as a side is gorgeous to look at. Several varieties of olive are represented. They are tossed in olive oil and oregano. A bit of orange zest and honey would have softened the flavours a bit as the oregano was a little powerful.
We decide to share a small dessert over cappuccinos and order the Creme Brule Cheesecake with Caramelized Peaches and Olive Oil Crisp. After we order, inexplicably, the music in the place gets cranked. Conversation becomes an effort. Dessert arrives. I am impressed because it is quite small — only a few bites between us. I like this. Many may not. The cheesecake was crustless, allowing you to savour the perfectly sweet, creamy, decadent mouthful of cake. Rob disagrees and thinks cheesecake, which he doesn’t really like but ordered anyways, should have a crust. The little cake sat atop a sugared olive oil crisp which served as a crust, for a nice crunch if you took a bit of both at the same time. The carmelized peaches were delicious. As a final note, MICRO GREENS IN NO WAY BELONG ON A DESSERT.
Our extremely good cappuccinos arrived after we finished dessert, which was only an issue because at this point the music and crowd made it too loud to converse. Off into the noisy New York night. We think of visiting the club on the hotel rooftop but the allure of bed is stronger. The Highline tomorrow.
Ah… country ham. It’s pretty much unknown here in Canada. It’s a southern treat that has a character all its own and completely distinct from the “city ham” we are used to here. Here‘s a breakdown of how they differ.
On our first trip to Nashville, we had country ham for breakfast one day, served with Red Eye gravy. It was a revelation. Salty, meaty and with a depth we weren’t prepared for. Of course it goes perfectly with the gravy made from the ham drippings, some black coffee and a little brown sugar.
For a family holiday dinner this year, I decided to try a whole salt and sugar cured country ham, bought by mail order from the Loveless Cafe out of Nashville.
A country ham is no picnic. It’s a multi-day prep process to make this ham ready to eat. When you remove the wrapping, it’s covered in a fine mold from being hung for up to two years, kind of like an aged cheese. It was also well, a little funky. After a good brushing, the ham needed to soak in water for two days with complete water changes twice a day. Removing the hock (the large knot of bone at one end of the ham) is optional but requires a saw. I opted to leave it in.
After the skin is removed, you score the fat and bake the ham for 4 hours or so. With an hour to go, you brush on some glaze to caramelize onto the ham. I used some of Loveless Cafe’s amazing peach preserves, ginger and some grainy mustard.
When the ham was finished baking, the glaze was shiny and cooked on and the ham smelled delicious. I let it sit for a half-hour before carving into slices with an electric knife. It was juicy, smoky, sweet and a little salty with more depth and complexity than other ham I’ve had.
Having the freshly carved ham is great, but the next morning, having it with freshly baked biscuits is really the raison d’etre for this ham. It’s its calling. There’s a reason ham and biscuits is a time-honoured Southern tradition, and now it’s one of ours.
This past weekend we noted the chill in the air and the naked trees. Time to experiment with the warming comfort of some amber liquid. Bourbons have become quite popular over the last little while. Rob has always liked them and I am learning to appreciate this drink. I got a bit of a taste for bourbon on our trips to New Orleans.
As with many alcoholic beverages, side by side comparison is a great way to find out what you like or don’t care for. We decided to host a bourbon tasting event with a small group of friends (8 is a nice number for this). Some of our guests were experienced, but everyone was learning.
On hand we had 9 bourbons for tasting. Elijah Craig, Buffalo Trace, Knob Creek Single Barrel, Woodford Reserve, Basil Hayden’s, Bulleit, Booker’s and Maker’s 46, and for research purposes, Buffalo Trace White Dog, an unoaked, young “fresh” bourbon (moonshine). We provided ice, small shot glasses for tiny tastes and comparison, and whiskey glasses for the committed.
A southern food theme seemed apropos. As well we included many smoked items and cheeses that pair well with bourbon. With that in mind, we decided on pork ribs basted in black currant sauce and cheese grits as main fare. The ribs were rubbed and slow-cooked and then glazed with a BBQ sauce that was made with bourbon and black current jam.
They were accompanied by smoked nuts, dark chocolate, smoked shrimps, scallops and salmon from Boucanerie Chelsea, pomegranate, persimmon, physallis and apple, a charcuterie platter with ham, peppered salami and summer sausage from The Piggy Market, and crackers paired with a strong Roquefort, Prima Donna, St. Angele, mimolette from Jacobson’s, and Gjetost cheese as well. The Gjetost is noteworthy because it is a caramel cheese that’s not sweet and really goes well with apple and bourbon.
Small bottles of water on hand are also a good idea, to cut the bourbon if desired but also to help guests pace themselves. For dessert, Rob smoked some pecan and butter tarts with apple wood. We had enjoyed the happy accidental marriage of pecan pie and wood smoke in Nachez, Mississippi and were trying to recreate it with limited success. The smoke was a little bitter. Pecan chips might be the way to go.
Guests tried and experimented throughout the evening, the women settling in and committing sooner. Personally I already knew I enjoyed Elijah Craig but found that I also really liked Basil Hayden’s. Both are smooth and milder than the more spicy, peppery choices offered. Side by side tasting really allows you to discover. Near the end of the evening, one of the guys got brave enough to open the White Dog. We included this for learning purposes. This is where Bourbon starts. And ends, had it been the first thing I tried that evening.
White Dog. What can I say. This should be partaken of, upon reflection, only if the occasion arises where you are in your car. You have already tossed the gun out of the window, are being pursued by police at a high rate of speed and are about to hit the the tire spikes at the road block erected in your honour and then die in a hail of gunfire. Vile. I consumed less than a half teaspoon and my throat was as raw as if I had vomited bile for 24 hours. Not recommended.
Sigh. Another incredible early fall day in Ottawa. Time to take advantage and hit up another food truck. I hope I will steel my nerves and visit them during the winter months but I can’t promise. We certainly have enjoyed them this summer when weather and time permits. Added bonus is that they are one type of resto where we can bring a pooch and Josie is quickly becoming a seasoned food truck gourmand.
Dosa is located at the SW corner of Dundonald Park at Lyon and Somerset streets. So far this is one of the best located trucks, at least by this diner’s point of view. Buy lunch and settle in on a bench or at a table in the dappled shade of pretty Dundonald Park, open to dogs on leash. The Dosa Inc. truck has a QR code on the back and you can scan it with your phone and a menu will pop up to peruse while you wait.
The truck had no line today, but many patrons were already chowing down in the park when we arrived after noon. Service is fast, friendly and helpful. And had never served a dog before. Dosa, a vegetarian staple from the south of India, combines rice and lentil batter to form a large, thin crepe. The crepe is served with a variety (13 choices at Dosa) of meat-free fillings. Each dosa comes with a lightly spiced stew, called sambar, a cooling chutney and a good scatter of thin, crisp, well-made plantain chips. According to Wikipedia, “Sambar is a vegetable stew or chowder based on a broth made with tamarind and pigeon peas”. Dosa Inc’s version, thin and very mild heat-wise also has some eggplant. The chutney, nothing like the bottled mango chutney most of us are familiar with, tastes blandly of coconut and I found to be ideal when paired with the mild spice of the dosa.
Josie decides on a breakfast dosa, spinach, fried egg and cheese with no sides. Rob got the #3, a classic Masala Dosa, filled with potatoes, vegetables and spices and I ordered a dosa stuffed with sweet red cabbage, spiced mushrooms and cheese. We choose to eat our dosas with a fork and knife but it could easily be rolled and eaten by hand. My dosa #7, the Gooey Gouzenko, had nice texture provided by the cabbage. The mushrooms added spice and a mild , pleasant heat. I assume the cheese was paneer. A little more cheese would have been nice, but overall, it was quite filling and a really nice change to a sandwich or a chip truck for the Ottawa lunch crew.
Rob’s masala dosa was full of a classic Indian potato and vegetable mixture. The potatoes were perfectly cooked and not mushy. The dosa doesn’t give you impression of eating carb-on-carb, perhaps because of the the lentils in the pancake or the texture of the extra vegetables. While yellow with spice, it had a very mild heat. A home-made hot sauce was available at the truck for those with more adventurous tastes, but if you’re wary of spicy food, you can eat at Dosa without a concern.
Josie gobbled her dosa, licked her lips and then begged for plantain chips. A dog of few words, Josie heartily endorses the Dosa truck as a great addition to Ottawa’s street food scene. Dosas are both vegetarian and gluten-free.
$25 for 3 dosas, one canned drink and one mango lassie. Note: Josie’s dosa was discounted $2 because we asked that they not include the sides. We were refunded the cost of one dosa because I had emailed Jake about not being there on time yesterday at lunch. The refund is not reflected in the price quoted here.