The kitchen is the great equalizer. Food doesn’t care about the colour of your skin…
Housebound for weeks, up to the eyeballs with stuff that interrupts the merriment of dancing about tasting stuff. I’m still a kid in the candy story in the national capital region. I remain a resident-tourist; each new day, every new street and borough is a “gollll-ly, lookie what I found” experience.
“Want to stop for lunch?” asks my guy, out of the blue.
“Oh boy. Could we?” *looks around* “Where are we?”
*laughs, shakes head* “Westborough.”
“OK, OH BOY.” walks down street, climbs stairs behind man paying for lunch, sees sign on the door and shrieks “It’s the Wellington!”
“Yea, I know it’s on your list…”
“Yes it IS. OH BOY.”
This is, I fear, the way most conversations go with us. Me with the enthusiasm of a four-year old on a sugar high, him urging me to use my ‘inside voice’.
The Wellington Gastropub has been on my list for a number of reasons a) I love a good pub and b) I love a good pub with food that is something beyond your standard burgers/chicken wings fare.
‘The Wellie’ (as it is known by those who love it) has a reputation for superlative food in an upscale pub atmosphere. A broad selection of artisan brews, a solid wine list and specialty sodas, fresh brewed ice tea and lemon aid for those not imbibing; which (at this point) includes me.
I’ve heard mixed reviews on Wellington Gastro; most declare it the best thing since co-co puffs, while others believe it has an identity crisis; “am I a pub or am I a bistro?” Why would the two be mutually exclusive? Why not be both? This calls for Gypsy investigation.
Up the long staircase you pass a backboard list of tasty hop oriented beverages of all colours and varietals. The ambiance is retro-hip with a clean finish. The open beam ceiling, the funky sideboards housing service stations that were once employed in home kitchens, adorable chachka and a collection of vinyl behind the counter made me feel welcome in a big, bright, comfortably furnished room.
I am particularly fond of good chairs, a must in any pub. The Wellington has great chairs, I could spend considerable time in those chairs.
The menu is short and concise, changing daily to reflect the mood of the kitchen and seasonal produce; keeping the food fresh and interesting. Hats off to fine, attentive service. I believe three people waited on us throughout that meal, all smiling, informed and fast.
The Grilled Ribeye Sarnie (above) with chili and lime mayo, coleslaw and your choice of soup or salad was a big hit with my lunch date, Chef B. He is a surprisingly picky eater, who is not a fan of coleslaw but he genuinely enjoyed the sandwich, finding it ‘balanced and tasty” and the ribeye he sited as “grilled perfection”.
The Pan Seared Fish Cake with Summer Squash, Leeks and Pea Shoots in a Tomato Curry Broth (below) did not fare as well with me. Not that it was ‘bad’ by any stretch of the imagination; it was simply bland. I found myself underwhelmed.
The broth had little flavor – how do you add curry and make something so flat? I asked for salt, it is rare that I ask for salt. Not an item I would order again. That said; it was perfectly prepared. The vegetables were slightly toothy, the salmon cake was crisp and the plate looked beautiful.
This is an opinion I shared with (one of) the attentive staff who (surprisingly) comped the dish. I say surprisingly because I didn’t send it back, in fact I ate the whole thing then offered my thoughts (seeing as he asked) on my meal.
How an establishment handles criticism can truly set it apart. Commitment to quality and customer satisfaction says to me: “the Wellington Gastropub values it’s clients”. (They had me at retro vinyl.)
My companion is now encouraging me to voice all opinions, siting me as a ‘cheap date’, the menu can be a bit spendy I’ll give him that. (Wait till I get my drinking legs back Honey, save now.)
Things I like: The Wellington has charm, and a certain ‘quirk’ – in that I find its identity. Customers appreciate it for its delightful differences. The draft beer taster looks like fun, a great way to test a new brew or four, and the wine list is robust. I look forward to a night of ‘sampling’ followed by a cab ride.
Things I love: The Wellington’s tight menu and solid service.
I’ll be back. I heard there’s ice cream. OH BOY, can’t wait. I’ll try to use my inside voice.
The Wellington Gastropub
1325 Wellington Street West
Ottawa, ON K1Y 3B6