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Inspirations Articles

Inspirational Eats: Appetite for Ottawa by Mike Cohen

Iconic Al’s the grand platter
Montreal - Friday, December 9, 2022

by Mike Cohen

Resto Broksis

Resto Broskis ( on Jean Talon near Decarie opened its doors at the start of the pandemic and immediately became a hit for take-out and delivery. When restaurants were permitted to reopen, Resto Broskis began filling the tables inside the restaurant.

Resto Broskis has a really fun menu. It includes burgers, hot dogs, poutines, sub sandwiches, chicken wings, pizzas, wraps, salads, pita plates and either double chocolate or cheese cake for dessert. You can order from their website and get a 15-percent discount at the cash or via one of the delivery apps.

This is a fantastic spot for lunch, with plenty of free parking. If you have mobility issues, they will do a curbside pickup. The entrance is at ground level, as is the washroom, so wheelchairs can manoeuvre easily. My friend and I ordered some of the steamy hot dogs and fries to start. I went for the medium barbeque chicken pizza, which was superb while my friend opted for the chicken pita, which he gave a big thumbs up to. We saved some room for pieces of the decadent chocolate cake. Info:

Brasserie Blandino 

Brasserie Blandino is located in the still relatively new Hilton Garden Inn/Hilton Homewood Suites Montreal Midtown on Decarie. I have been there for breakfast and dinner thus far and report back a big thumbs up. Blandino is a neighbourhood Italian-inspired seasonal brasserie using fresh market produce with local inspiration. Situated right next to the lobby of the hotel, it can seat 80 people at tables and at the bar and has an accessible entrance. There is also a nice seasonal terrasse which I took advantage of. Customers can also take advantage of free underground indoor parking. An elevator is wheelchair accessible as is the front entrance and the washrooms. A new menu has recently been introduced for breakfast, lunch and supper.


On the night I visited, my server Antoine made several suggestions. I started off with a terrific burrata salad, some splendid cornmeal calamari and their outstanding focaccia bread which was perfect for dipping. The salmon cioppino (salmon, lobster, brodo, mussels, clams, shrimp, salsa cruda) was highly recommended. For dessert, it was tough to choose between the cannoli and the blueberry cheesecake. We had wonderful service, great food and superb ambiance. Taquería Pancho is another restaurant on site. I hope to try that as well one day. Info:

Appetite for Ottawa

I received such a warm response from readers who were pleased with previous articles on Ottawa restaurants. Just over two hours away from Montreal, the nation’s capital has grown in popularity among many of us.

Iconic Al’s: Located on Elgin Street, Al’s Steakhouse was established in 1967 by the late Halim “Al” Saikali. The restaurant seats 130 inside, 80 in a private banquet room and 80 on the beautiful seasonal outdoor patio.  

We began with some drinks. The menu has a wide array of appetizers. I started off with a piping hot bowl of chicken noodle soup. Some freshly baked rolls, with soft butter, arrived at the table. Then the sharing began: Escargots au Gratin, with in-house garlic butter; a dozen outstanding P.E.I. oysters with different sauces; a burrata salad for two, including heirloom tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, house balsamic, fresh basil, Maldon sea salt and crispy pieces of French bread; and tuna tartare, served with avocado, pickled radish, Asian dressing and crispy wontons. The ladies shared a 14-inch rib steak, cooked to perfection and already sliced, with a side of mashed potatoes. I chose the 12-ounce New York strip, which was to die for. On the side I ordered some garlic rice. And yes, we saved just enough room for some of their homemade desserts. We shared the lemon tart and the coconut cream pie.

The rear entrance from the parking lot is fully wheelchair accessible, as are the seasonal patio and the washrooms. Curbside pickup is also available. Info:

Métropolitain Brasserie

Conveniently located next to the Byward Market at 700 Sussex, just steps away from Parliament Hill, Métropolitain Brasserie is home to Ottawa’s largest raw bar. Open seven days a week, serving lunch, dinner and brunch on weekends, we had a wonderful summer Saturday evening dinner on their spacious patio.   

Metropolitain Brasserie

We started off the evening with some drinks and then took a good hard look at all of the options available among the appetizers. Some breads, rolls and butter and an order of outstanding mushroom Flatbread, with spinach, ricotta, Gruyère and truffle oil, started things off. Then came one of our favorites: a seafood platter for two (which was more than enough for three): shrimp, oysters, mussels, snow crab, cod croquettes and scallop crudo. This could have been a meal itself. I savoured every morsel. There is a larger platter for four available.

There is a nice selection of main courses. The Duck Confit caught my eye, an item I do not see available at too many restaurants I frequent. It was superbly prepared, with crispy skin and served with warm fingerling salad, roasted peppers, grilled onions, black olives, fresh basil, apricot harissa toss, and lime crema. As for the others, they opted for the steak frites petit (five ounces), heart of Angus ribeye and mâitre d’ hotel butter and Coquille St. Jacques, with seared scallops, mashed potatoes, wilted spinach, Mornay sauce, melted Gruyère and toasted Panko bread crumbs.

While we were quite full, it was pretty hard to resist the dessert menu. We agreed to share the flourless chocolate cake, with caramel sauce and raspberry preserves. It literally melted in my mouth.

The seasonal patio and main entrance are  wheelchair accessible, as are the washrooms. There is plenty of street parking and paid lots close by. If you park in the indoor lot next door and remain at the first level, you can gain direct entrance to the restaurant. Info:  

Zak’s Diner

Mark down Zak’s Diner as simply a fun place to eat when in Ottawa, with locations at Byward Market, Elgin Street, Carleton Place and Kanata.

Zaks Diner

The Byward location is open 24/7 and offers all-day breakfast, unbeatable burgers, sandwiches, world-famous milkshakes and much more. Zak’s is noted for its burgers, so the Zak Attack looked like a good option: Two patties with bacon, swiss cheddar cheese and 1000 islands dressing. All burger meals are served with coleslaw, a pickle and either fries, curly fries, soup, salad, or onion rings. I had both the curly fries, along with garlic mayo for dipping and a piping hot bowl of tomato bisque soup. And no, I could not finish everything on my plate. I was delighted to learn that they have a lactose-free milkshake option, so I went for the banana chocolate flavour with a nice serving of whipped cream and a cherry on top. In fact, you get the equivalent of a full second serving as well so there is plenty to share.

The Byward Market location is wheelchair accessible. Call ahead of time and they will make a ramp available for indoor dining. The patio is at street level. Washrooms via Zak’s Cantina next door are also accessible. Info: