My morning starts early. By 7am I am usually at my desk, first coffee in hand answering emails.
This is my ritual. Beans to grinder, French press on desk, cream no sugar.
What’s your morning coffee routine?
Everyone knows my favourite neighbourhood pub is just around the corner. Sandy Hill Lounge and Grill or SHL&G is a busy happening place in the heart of this downtown community.
We often pop in for dinner or a drink, but I love the weekend brunch and chef/owner Chris Marquis and his crew make awesome coffee and some of the best poached eggs in the city.
I have been trying to get together for a sit down with Chris for sometime now and this past weekend I was finally able to do that. A cheerful character, well know among regulars as super friendly this Ottawa boy has brought some good cooking to the old Drumlins. This is what Chris had to say:
lk What Is Your Food Philosophy?
cm People need to have fun with food. They need to experiment, learn to cook, be creative and of course healthfully.
When I was young my Father cooked, every night we sat down as a family and ate together. Even when he was preparing the food we sat around did our homework and talked.
Even with my own family, we have conversations at meal times. I cook when I am at home, we have meals together.
lk If There Was One Thing You Could Tell People About SHL&G What Would That Be?
cm That we are still creating our identity. There are still surprises in store.
lk What Is Your Favourite Meal?
cm That is a tough one. I love curries, lamb, Basque Region cuisine
lk Are You Pleased With The Growth Of SHL&G?
cm Yes. We are so busy, that often (Friday nights in particular) folks have a wait. We do have the bar area that we can use for seating, it is really nice to be able to sit up at a bar and eat.
lk What Made You Choose Your Location In This Neighbourhood?
cm I grew up in Ottawa. This is where I got my start right after school, first at the Barley Mow on Bank and then the Barley Mow in Kanata. I have worked at a few places. I love the idea of the neighbourhood pub, I have always liked this location.
lk What Do You Do On Your Time Off?
cm I do cook at home, but I am never really off. I have to be available, my cell phone is always on. I manage to do other things yes, and even when I am doing things for the business on my day off, I still consider it my day off.
lk When You Order In When Your At Home What Do You Order?
cm Chinese food
lk On The Evolution Of Pub Food…
cm I think what has happened is that young chefs just out of school who are able to open a business, who can’t necessarily go the fine dining route are looking for something smaller, manageable where they can be really creative.
A few things SHL&G are known for are, their addictive pot stickers, awesome brunch, butter chicken poutine, buttermilk pie, Monday night steak dinners and their fabulous burgers, including a brilliant lamb burger.
On a side note Egg Poacher Extraordinaire is Wendy, Chris’s partner.
I did mean to tell Chris that he is not alone, Anthony Bourdain’s guilty pleasure is take-out Chinese.
Sandy Hill Lounge & Grill
321 Somerset St E, Ottawa, ON
I ordered the eggs benny (despite what Anthony Bourdain says, I can’t resist) with potato cake. The potato was a larger version of one of their tapas they serve at night, a crisp coated exterior filled with a tender mash. The Hollandaise was creamy and delicious with a bit of a bite, and the eggs were cooked to perfection, firm with a nice soft yolk.
My handsome date ordered the chocolate chip pancakes and devoured them in all their sweetness with relish (some things never change). He also had a side of homefries (good, but really take the potato cake you won’t be sorry).
This is a family run business, they really look like they share the work, and it seems they enjoy it too and that only adds to what makes this place special. I look forward to visiting regularly.
Breakfast with coffee and tip was just under $26.00.
Su Casa Restaurant and Tapas Bar, 2564 St Joseph Blvd. Ottawa, ON
You can find them on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ottawa-ON/Su-Casa-Restaurant-and-Tapas-Bar/237194176858?ref=ts
Although I love tea, nothing truly does it for me like a great cup of coffee. Mornings never seem complete, even if I have to delay the first cup until 10am I will still make sure to get it in. I even put up with the brew at work (sorry co-workers, unless a certain person makes it, it’s just not as good).
I am laying off my favourite beverage for a while for a few reasons, mainly to give myself a break from the caffeine (please don’t advise me to try decaf, because we all know it is just not the same thing). So I am in a bit of mourning, my Globe and yesterday morning just wasn’t the same even with a really good Earl Grey, plus I have had a mid-morning headache for 4 full days now. I even saw the look of disappointment in the face of my local barista when I opted for leaves instead of beans (they think they know me so well, and I go and do this). I must admit however, I did it once before and for a whole year I felt pretty fabulous off the stuff.
So if you have time I wouldn’t mind hearing stories of trying to break the habit, or giving it a break just to see how others made out.
My new French Press looks so lonely on the counter…….