Although the name doesn't immediately roll off the tongue, much is being said about a new hot spot in town: gezellig. There's been a distinct buzz in the air for months, ever since acclaimed restaurateur Stephen Beckta and culinary wizard Michael Moffatt announced their third foray into Ottawa's burgeoning restaurant scene, following on the success of Beckta and play.
Major renovations have transformed a bland bank building into a space that is both cozy and impressive, drawing the hungry and the curious in equal measures. But what about the chosen Dutch moniker? "It is a word that speaks of conviviality, of gathering with loved ones in an atmosphere that is enjoyable and relaxing," explains Steve. "It evokes very much the spirit we hope to have created here."
Designed as a neighbourhood restaurant, gezellig is all about fun and accessibility. From the warm décor featuring wood accents and rich charcoal-coloured walls, to the uncomplicated menu, it is a place that Stephen anticipates people in his own Westboro community will visit on a weekly basis. The clean, simple lines of gezellig's décor are echoed in the menu, carefully crafted by executive chef Michael Moffatt and seamlessly executed by chef de cuisine Che Chartrand, who formerly made a name for himself at Chez Eric in Wakefield.
"The menu is one page and changes at least once a week," says Steve. "It features things like sharing meals for two - it might be a whole roast chicken, roast bass or braised ribs, and then you get to choose your own side dishes. We want people to feel very much at home, not only with the space but also the food. Gezellig is not a special occasion or ‘destination' restaurant the way Beckta might be for some."
The restaurant is also home to the group's first onsite bakery. Baker Nat Harera is now crafting delicious artisan breads for all three restaurants. Her creations include four varieties for Beckta, a rustic baguette for play (which was recently acknowledged by Maclean's magazine as one of Canada's top 50 restaurants) and then a flavourful sourdough boule for gezellig.
Located at 337 Richmond Road