Sometimes called Canada's favourite sweet treat, delicious hand-made doughnuts are suddenly popping up on restaurant menus across Ottawa. After taste-testing at three of the city's most popular establishments, Ottawa at Home is pleased to confirm that fun, fresh doughnuts are, indeed, the perfect finish to a lovely meal.
Brothers Ross and Simon Fraser, co-owners of Fraser Café, were likely the first high-end restaurant in town to put doughnuts on their menu.
"There's a certain simplicity to them," says Ross, and they seem to remind many people of their childhood, as they do for Simon and I. "We fry them to order with fresh yeast dough prepared daily and they are just so tasty; a true comfort food."
Fraser Café serves its moist, flavourful doughnuts dusted with a combination of sugars liberally laced with cinnamon, on a plate replete with goodies including vanilla anglaise, caramel apple sauce and a decadent chocolate-coffee ganache - ideal for dunking.
Chef Jonathan Korecki at SIDEDOOR contemporary kitchen & bar included doughnuts on his menu because of a fond childhood memory.
"My grandmother used to make them and I find there is something so playful and multi-sensory about fresh-from-the-fryer doughnuts. It's the aroma, the appearance and, of course, the taste. When a plate of hot doughnuts comes out of the kitchen everyone in the place notices, and additional orders come in like crazy," explains Jonathan, whose confections come in traditional cinnamon-sugar and dark chocolate-glazed varieties, along with a chef's special that changes as various fruits come into season.
Although it would be hard to beat the chocolate-glazed doughnuts, I'm looking forward to sampling his apple, peach and pumpkin creations.
Chef Ben Baird's childhood memory of doughnuts is also enduring. "The only way my aunt could get me to go to church was to promise doughnuts afterwards," he laughs. Owner of The Urban Pear restaurant, Ben agrees that doughnuts are a sure thing because, "everyone loves ‘em."
While doughnuts come and go from his menu, they often appear as a tempting garnish on a dessert plate or as a savoury side dish. "I've tried blue cheese and herbs, which was fantastic, and a chocolate-cumin combination that was very tasty. I have a lot of fun experimenting with doughnuts," says Ben, who offered up a sugar-coated, mashed potato-based doughnut that was dense and oh-so-satisfying.
Fraser Café is at 7 Springfield Road, SIDEDOOR contemporary kitchen & bar is located at 20 York Street and The Urban Pear is at 151 Second Avenue.