While much of Ottawa is abuzz over the opening of Nordstrom at the Rideau Centre on March 6th, I have to confess that I've decided my opening day strategy is likely to be ‘eat first, shop second'. Two charming food offerings have been carefully designed to enhance the Nordstrom experience, and the attention to detail is evident.
On the lower floor of the spacious store, one of the retail chain's larger properties, is a cute café called the ebar, serving up espresso, lattes, juice and smoothies along with grab-and-go fare like salads and snacks, including treats from local darlings Swiss Pastries and SuzyQ doughnuts.
Upstairs, tucked away in a sunny space at the north end of the store, is Bazille, an impressive little bistro that is sure to become a popular downtown lunch or dinner spot, whether you're shopping or not. Bazille features a warm-industrial décor with gunmetal finishes, reclaimed wood, funky light fixtures and a mix of seating ranging from small tables to communal options to cozy banquettes. The exhibition kitchen offers a great view of the team at work. Service is polished and friendly and the two-page menu is packed with options sure to satisfy almost every eater. Gluten free options are identified, calorie counts are offered and vegetarian options are plentiful. There's even a thoughtfully curated kids menu. Best of all - this place is licensed, with craft cocktails as a specialty. Some great non-alcoholic drinks are on offer too. Nothing like a little restorative tipple in the middle of a long shopping expedition, right?
The food menu is comprised of soups, starters, salads, thin crust pizza, sandwiches (including a fantastic burger), sides and specialties which range from steak frites to asparagus risotto to the some of the best roast chicken I have ever tasted. Also worth mentioning is the Ahi Tuna Poke, featuring marinated tuna, seasoned wontons and an Asian-inspired slaw, as well as the crisp calamari which was lightly breaded and ever so tender. Theirs is a scratch kitchen, meaning everything is made from fresh ingredients, and it shows.
I'm looking forward to working my way through the entire salad menu - the two I tasted (Fresh Berry and Fig with Goat Cheese, Cilantro Lime Shrimp) were both delicious and judiciously dressed. Whatever you choose, be sure to save room for dessert - I'm still dreaming about the banana and chocolate sauce topped crème brulée, as well as the white chocolate bread pudding. Here's to tasty shopping trips, Ottawa!