Kitchissippi’s restaurant scene continues to change

Ministry of Coffee and Social Affairs opened in May. Photo by Andrea Tomkins.
Ministry of Coffee and Social Affairs opened in May. Photo by Andrea Tomkins.

It’s been a busy few months on the food front in Kitchissippi, with numerous establishments departing from and arriving in the area. Working from east to west, here’s a recap of the new food landscape in Hintonburg, Wellington West and Westboro.

After three decades of serving up Japanese fare, Hino Restaurant closed in April. The space was revamped to house a second location for local indie darling Ministry of Coffee and Social Affairs, which opened in early May. Much-praised for its daytime coffee, sandwiches and baked goods, it shifts its vibe at 7 p.m. to a non-coffee serving lounge bar.

Street eaters might enjoy a visit to Hintonburg’s newest seasonal food truck, the Bytown Bayou Louisiana Smokehouse. Overnight slow-smoked meats are served up daily on the east side of Spadina between Somerset and Wellington. The menu includes pulled pork, smoked chicken and brisket, po’ boys, tacos, ribs and more.

After an uneven three and a half year run, Burnt Butter in Hintonburg closed and has been replaced by Carben Food + Drink which opened in mid-June. A trendy rustic-industrial interior complements its inventive dinner, dessert and late-night menus.

Years after the papered-over windows announced its imminent arrival, Bella Via has finally opened at the corner of Parkdale and Wellington. Billed as a coffee shop, bakery and ice cream parlour, their panini and gelato are earning early accolades.

It was with a heavy heart that Chef Richard Nigro closed the doors to his Hintonburg Kitchen in early May, citing the brutal winter weather as having had a significant negative effect. The good news is that Etienne Cuerrier, formerly of Soif Wine Bar, is moving in to open Meat Press, a creative charcuterie and sandwich shop. Also in early May, Teatro Café in the GCTC building was shuttered, shortly after Chef Mook Sutton left to join the kitchen of Hintonburg’s perennially-popular Back Lane Café.  

Another exciting alfresco addition is Flapjack’s Panwich Shack at 34 Holland Avenue near Tunney’s Pasture. This is the third location for Flapjack’s, an innovative local company which has an outdoor shack in the Glebe and a bricks-and-mortar joint on Preston Street. The just-opened food truck has a nice little seating area and a menu composed of grilled panwiches, which are freshly panini-pressed buttermilk pancakes (more like biscuits) loaded with fillings. They’re served up with a side of house-made kettle chips; add in a dipping sauce and a drink and you’ve got a great lunch for $10.

Owner Dave Scharf has exhaustively blogged about the trials and tribulations of running The Flying Banzini, on Wellington near Holland. He’s recently taken on a new business partner, Mathew Gregoire, who is also serving as the restaurant’s chef and vice president of operations. Significant menu changes are afoot, as well as an interior renovation that will see the addition of a small six-seat bar counter.

The outdoor dining options are a little more comfortable in Wellington West with the recent construction of an attractive new roof over the cozy patio in front of the Wellington Gastropub. It’s open for lunch and dinner Monday through Friday, and from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Silver Spoon Thai Cuisine has opted to close its location on Wellington at Western Avenue and consolidate operations at its Carling and Maitland restaurant, making room for a new venture. African Village Restaurant, featuring East African and Caribbean cuisine, expects to be open soon.

Continuing westward, the short-lived Zanadu Juice Bar on Richmond Road has closed. Half a block away, Ottawa’s fifth Nestle’s Toll House Café franchise is now open, dishing up oodles of sweet treats including baked goods and ice cream, along with a variety of beverages.

Once home to Fratelli’s, Lapointe’s Westboro Fish House has reverted to its Italian roots. The space has just reopened as Vittoria Trattoria, which they are calling Vittoria in the Village.

Signs recently appeared announcing that the space occupied by Naked Fish Sushi in Westboro is for lease, but management said they are not sure yet if they will relocate or simply close. [Edited to add: Naked Fish is currently closed for renovations.]

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