By Paula Roy –
Hintonburg’s newest eatery gives one pause for thought in multiple positive ways. Its name – The Third – evokes the notion of a sociological phenomenon dubbed the ‘third place’ (after home and office) where people are encouraged to gather informally. Co-owner and operator, Ashley Struthers, said it’s both a nod to her small-town Merrickville roots and an acknowledgment of the culture of modern-day Hintonburg, where she now lives. “The name is proving to be a great conversation point since we opened,” says Ashley.
There is a thoughtfulness to the food as well. While the straightforward menu is based on classic diner or pub favourites, the kitchen operates with a zero waste philosophy in mind, with portions scaled appropriately. The Third’s emphasis on using top quality ingredients is reflected in the excellent taste of their fare, which includes club sandwiches, fish and chips, roast chicken, burgers, nachos and more. Ashley and Chef Caroline Murphy, both veterans of the hospitality industry, collaborated to develop a menu that emphasizes comfort and nutrition, ensuring vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options are also available. Meats are roasted in-house, just as breads and jams are made on site; these are just a few of the authentic touches you will find.
“We chose to focus on doing a short list of things really well,” notes Ashley, adding that the menu, which takes advantage of local ingredients as much as possible, will be seasonally refreshed.
On the beverage side, The Third has thirteen beers on tap, including local favourites from Kichesippi, Dominion City, Ashton Brewing Company and Perth Brewery. Wines are available by the bottle as well as on tap from Niagara’s Vineland Estates Winery with an innovative keg delivery system that ensures the wine is fresh from first glass to last.
Ashley leveraged her design background during the several months it took to refresh and rejuvenate the space. Church pews salvaged from the former Northwestern United Church grace the sides of the room and several were transformed into the bartop. Sturdy, custom-made wood tables and retro captain’s chairs round out the functional elements.
The Third’s bright, comfortable décor includes historical artifacts – sourced by the Kitchissippi Times’ resident historian Dave Allston –illustrate the building’s past as one of Ottawa’s longest-lasting Chinese laundries. The Hintonburgh Hand Laundry operated at 1017 Wellington St. W. for decades until its closure in 1976. After that, the space became a popular pub called Bonkers and later, Blackpepper. A lightbox from an old refrigerator found on the premises has been transformed into a delightfully retro ‘Bar Service’ sign and Ontario-made reproduction tin ceiling panels decorate several areas of the restaurant.
Ashley notes that it is fun to see to see the shifting customer base during the day. “We see parents having lunch with toddlers, then we get another wave in the afternoon of people who want to shift focus and work somewhere else, which is exactly why we installed so many electrical outlets. Next up, it’s families enjoying early dinners and then the vibe changes again as couples come in together and friends gather for the evening. We love that so many of our customers are walking in from just a few blocks away.”
True to its ‘third place’ vision, The Third really is a ‘come as you are’ spot. When asked to describe The Third’s appeal, Ashley suggests it’s because so many people are looking for places to go that are not fast food, yet still affordable.
“There are a lot of places to eat, especially in this area, but we offer a good price point, food made with fresh, wholesome ingredients and we are very hospitality focused. It helps too that we’re a great spot for families. Our philosophy is that we will keep working hard to be a friendly and affordable option, giving people good reasons to give themselves permission to go out and have a good time.”