Tastes of Wellington West IS BACK (Plus, tips to maximize your enjoyment)

Story and photo by Jacob Hoytema – 

When Tastes of Wellington West returns this September 19, one of the neighbourhood’s newest restaurants hopes to give to the community through free samples and charity.

Carben Food + Drink, which opened in Hintonburg last June, will participate in TOWW by giving free samples of their cuisine. Each sample will come at the price of a recommended bite-sized donation to the Ottawa food bank.

“We really want to be part of the community as much as possible, and kind of give back,” says Carben co-founder Kevin Benes.

Benes and Caroline Ngo, who founded and own the restaurant as a husband and wife team, modelled Carben’s approach after the sort of eating establishment they became familiar with while living in Vancouver.

“Casual fine dining would be the best all-encompassing description you could find,” Benes says of their style. “With a modern and casual feel,” Ngo adds.

“We kind of wanted to bring the West Coast vibe over here,” she says. “Our food is different… but we try to make it approachable.”

Carben Food + Drink owners Kevin Benes and Caroline Ngo with their son Kai in front of their restaurant at 1100 Wellington St. W.
Carben Food + Drink owners Kevin Benes and Caroline Ngo with their son Kai in front of their restaurant at 1100 Wellington St. W.

The pair have found business has been quiet over the summer, so they hope to establish themselves in the community over the fall, namely through events like Tastes of Wellington West.

TOWW organizer and executive director of the Wellington West BIA, Zachary Dayler, says this is exactly what the event is for.

“We’re hoping for a nice sunny day,” says Dayler. “We’re hoping people will be able to come on out and explore the neighbourhood, and find that new local favourite of theirs,” he says, later indicating that Carben is a newcomer to the street that he is also excited about.

Dayler also says while the event has in the past focused on Wellington West’s food options, he hopes attendees will take notice of the other sorts of businesses participating.

Crazy Carl’s Antiques and Collectibles, he mentions, will be having a sidewalk sale. Terra20, a local retailer of green and alternative products, is hosting a workshop in which attendees can make their own scent for a body wash or lotion. The proceeds of this workshop will also go to a local charity.

Wellington West’s arts establishments will also be part of the day’s mosaic of local businesses.

“You can’t really talk about this area without talking about some of the great arts that exist [here],” Dayler says. Places such as Cube Gallery and Exposure Gallery are hosting exhibits, and The Record Centre will feature live DJs.

While TOWW is an opportunity for businesses like Carben to connect with the immediate community, Dayler says organizers have been using social media and other tools to market the event to residents of the whole Ottawa area.

Ngo and Benes say the neighbourhood’s diverse smorgasbord of businesses are what they find so charming about the area.

“Hintonburg itself is fantastic,” Benes said. “Every time you walk down this street, it seems like you find something new.”

Top tips for maximum TOWW enjoyment

  • Take the bus, ride your bike and park it, or carpool and be prepared to walk. Seeing the sights from a pedestrian perspective is the only way to go.
  • Related: wear your walking shoes.
  • Consult the map and plan your route beforehand. You can find it online at wellingtonwest.ca.
  • More fun is to be had in groups. Consider inviting your friends and make a day of it.
  • Tastes of Wellington makes a great first date. It’s the perfect opportunity to get to know your significant other. (e.g. Is he adventurous? Spontaneous? A picky eater? A reluctant walker?)
  • Bring your appetite. Food is a big part of Tastes of Wellington West and if you fuel up too much before you go, well, you might miss out on something delicious. Better yet, time your visit around lunch.
  • Charge up your phone and …
  • Share the best of your experience and your recommendations on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #?ToWW2015 and #?WellingtonWest. Sharing the love is one of the best ways to support your community and local businesses.

Got any to add? Leave them in the comments below.

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