Brunch done well is a perfect blend of flavours, meant to be enjoyed in a relaxed setting, with copious cups of coffee, tea or perhaps something a little stronger. This summer venture out to explore a new spot or two, since Ottawa has so many great possibilities when it comes â€¨to everyone’s favourite mid-morning to mid-afternoon meal.
Alice’s Village Café
Whether you choose to drive or cycle there – it’s a pleasant half-hour ride from downtown – the village of Carp is a great destination and Alice’s Village Café is a charming brunch spot. It can be tricky to be the new owners of a beloved spot, but Melanie Ruest and Todd Hirtle have preserved the warm, welcoming feel of Alice’s that contributes to it being regarded as Carp’s community hub.
Alice’s many brunch possibilities include classic breakfast plates as well as scrumptious breakfast sandwiches, wraps, waffles, soups, scones, muffins and more. You can bolster your meal with a selection of side dishes and excellent coffee supplied by Almonte’s Equator Coffee Roasters, plus gluten-free baked goods from Almonte’s Sweet Cheeks Kitchen. Not to be missed is their outstanding and wildly popular cinnamon bun, affectionately called the Big Nasty.
Meals, prepared by Chopped Canada winning chef Derek Pennell, are served inside the cozy 55-seat café or in one of the two generous seating areas outdoors. Their breakfast menu is served weekdays until 11 a.m. and weekends until 2 p.m. but visiting on a weekday along with the locals is recommended to avoid waiting in line with weekend diners who also come to visit the nearby Farmers’ Market or the Diefenbunker. (3773 Carp Road; alicesvillagecafe.com).
St Martha’s Brasserie d’Orleans and â€¨St. Martha’s Culinaire d’Orleans
Some of the best brunch options in the east are served up at St. Martha’s two locations. Offering breakfast Monday through Friday and a special brunch menu on weekends, both the Brasserie and the Culinaire take pride in menus which feature a range of pleasing options and cater to those with gluten sensitivities.
At the Brasserie, brunch focuses more on traditional comfort food, with challah-based crème brûlée pain doré (French toast), omelettes and their famous petit dejeuner St Marthe (an inventive take on eggs Benedict with creamy demi-glace instead of hollandaise sauce).
Culinaire’s menu offers an additional brunch speciality in the form of cast-iron skillet casseroles served piping hot, freshly baked in their pizza oven. Each one features sautéed onions, home fries and eggs, with such delicious add-ins as beef brisket and mushrooms, locally-smoked ham and Gruyère, grilled chicken and salsa verde or, for vegetarians, arugula, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms.
Both St. Martha’s locations feature patios as well as generous indoor seating, including theatre seating with great views into the kitchen at the Culinaire. Insiders suggest arriving after noontime on weekends at the Brasserie to avoid the rush, while 9 a.m. at the Culinaire should beat the crowds. (503 - 3095 St. Joseph Boulevard and 2284 Tenth Line Road; goodfoodservedwell.com).â€¨
Flapjack’s Canadian Diner - Little Italy
You don’t have to wear plaid to enjoy brunch at Flapjack’s, but it would certainly fit in well with the cheerful, rustic décor. Flapjack’s began as a food truck on Bank Street, opening its current Little Italy location in 2015. The popularity of its all-day breakfast offerings is just one of reasons expansion plans are in the works.
Menu options range from healthy granola and yogurt parfaits served in canning jars, to the decadent Flapjack’s plate with eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, home fry poutine, toast and buttermilk pancakes. Their fabulous waffles are huge sellers, along with their famous buttermilk and oatmeal pancakes.
Canadian culinary pride shines through in Flapjack’s breakfast poutine and three styles of “EH’ggs Benny,” as well as buttermilk-battered deep-fried bacon or sausages, served with maple syrup for dunking. Lumberjacks, or any hungry folk, will love their brunch Lumburger with cheddar, bacon, sunny-side-up egg and hollandaise sauce or the Benny Mash featuring mushrooms, onions, spinach, bacon and sausage scrambled with potatoes, topping with cheddar, hollandaise and two steamed eggs. The menu includes gluten-sensitive options and selections for vegetarians.
Even with 40 seats indoors and more on the patio, Flapjack’s often has lineups, making weekday early afternoons the best time to grab a table without waiting. (354A Preston Street; flapjacks.ca).
Chesterfield’s Gastro Diner
West Wellington Village is home to lots of eateries, and Chesterfield’s Gastro Diner is among the friendliest. Calling itself a “not so greasy spoon,” delicious all-day breakfasts are prepared primarily using a steam induction oven, ensuring a healthier menu overall.
Cheerful staff ferry plates to diners seated on mismatched chesterfields and chairs. Tapas-style brunch offerings include traditional eggs, eggs Benedict or breakfast pies (their version of omelettes) with a dazzling array of complementary sides including roasted potatoes, tomato and cucumber salad, vegetarian baked beans, soup, toast with homemade jam and more. For a toonie you can add such options as a fruit bowl or breakfast poutine. This mix-and-match approach makes it easy to accommodate a wide range of dietary preferences.
Other options include a flavourful Israeli breakfast, consisting of Shakshuka eggs with smoked Gouda, and appropriate accompaniments. Steak hash with eggs is very popular and many servings of chicken and waffles, French toast and breakfast sliders are also delivered daily to appreciative diners.
The menu changes frequently at Chesterfield’s, according to whatever owners Dominique and Demian feel like eating. Best time to arrive on weekends is before 9 a.m. or after 1:30 p.m. to beat the crowds. (1433 Wellington Street West; gastrodiner.ca).