There is something about the opening of a new restaurant that fascinates and knowing that there are only two of these types of restaurant in Canada adds to that mystery.
The Sweetgrass Aboriginal Bistro, located at 108 Murray Street in Ottawa opened its doors at 5.30 pm on November 15 to become Canada's second aboriginal restaurant. (The other one was the Liliget Feast House in Vancouver which is now closed)
The restaurant is located in the trendy Byward Market area of Ottawa. It has 57 seats and is decorated appropriately with aboriginal paintings and artifacts. There is even some very soft aboriginal music being provided for background to your meal. This provides a very pleasant ambience for one's meal.
I visited the restaurant on November 15, 2003 as part of a party of 7 persons who had submitted a reservation. It was a good thing that we did as the place was full when we arrived at 6.00 pm. It was unfortunate that one of their staff had slipped up on the reservation as they thought it was only for three persons. So we had to wait until there was an available table at the little bar just inside the door.
The menu at the Bistro, is composed of Starters, In-Betweens, Mains and Sides which is sort of an unique way to present a menu. An example of a starter is their homemade Soup of the Day or Wild Rice Soup. A couple of In-Betweens presented are House Smoked Atlantic Salmon or Grilled Quail. Mains; there was a choice of eight different entrees such as Roast Breast of Goose Au Jus, Garlic Roast Rack of Artic Caribou, Cider Glazed Grilled Chicken or our table's favorite choice Grilled Buffalo Steak. Sides or side dishes that one could purchase for $2.00 were Navaho Fried Bread, Bannock or Sautéed Wild Greens.
Well how did our party enjoy the meal?
First day openings jitters for the staff seem to be in order as more than several times our waiter came to apologize for being late in serving the meal and also mixing up the bill. The meals were excellent but a wee bit on the small size. They were tasty and use of various different herbs and spices that I had not tasted before were excellently incorporated into the seasoning of the fish, meat and vegetables.
Dishes were served on warm but not hot plates. I would suggest that the red heating lamp pointed at the stack of plates be redirected as the plates should be hotter when serving these types of dishes.
The place was clean - even the washrooms. The staff was friendly responding to our wishes, but not providing immediate responses to questions and had to be prompted several times.
The average price of our meals without any wine, beer or liquor or dessert - $30.00 per person including taxes.
Rating 3 Stars out of 5 - If you have any Comments about the Sweetgrass Bistro
Sweetgrass Aboriginal Bistro
108 Murray Street
Phone: 613 562-3683
Fax: 613 562-4674
November 24, 2003
Comments Submitted - January 16, 2004
I came across your site while searching for Sweetgrass Aboriginal
Bistro's phone number. I've just finished making myself a reservation
for tomorrow's supper, and decided to take the time to respond to your
site. Here are my comments about my family's Sweetgrass Bistro
First of all, I have to say that I am sorry to hear about your opening
night experience at Sweetgrass. I waited for my first visit until the
restaurant had been open for almost 3 full weeks. Away from the bustle
and confusion of opening night, our party of 6 had a wonderful birthday
supper - including an entire boudin cake.
The service was excellent, prompt and very courteous. Our waiter served
us with great attention to details, and the kitchen staff ensured that
everything was coordinated. All of our 6 various starters, in-betweens
and entrees arrived at the right time for us to thoroughly enjoy
together with one another, without having to wait for any late dishes.
There was never a need to feel rushed, and the endless bowl of fresh
popped corn at the start was just the thing to read a menu by.
Sweetgrass is the only restaurant I can think of in Ottawa that has such
a perfect atmosphere for just relaxing and enjoying a fine meal. While
it is a really nicely decorated market spot and a pretty classy place to
take out of towners or Aboriginally-interested-out-of-country visitors,
it is filled with the kind of warmth that just let my family relax and
feel at home. We had a great time enjoying one another's company, the
atmosphere, laughter, the service, and, of course, the food.
The food! Among all of the various dishes our little group ordered -
everything- without exception, was delicious. Not a single complaint
about anything, except maybe being just a touch too full at the end of
it all. Some of the food was just so good that you couldn't eat it all
alone. Eating at Sweetgrass becomes an experience that you just want to
share. For example, I had the salmon entree. It so tasty, delicate,
yet filled with the very essence of a fish well lived - I just had to
close my eyes to eat it. Honest! I'm not kidding. It was that good.
Now, this is not an everyday experience, but something special and
rare. I just could not enjoy such an experience alone so at my
insistence, five other forks took the same journey. And I tell you, my
husband, sons, daughter and daughter-in-law all had to close their eyes
Everything we ate was excellent, but I just have to mention that the
steak was wonderful, and I just did not know that it was possible to
cook up commercially available goose and make it taste like it lived
free! And no other eatery in Ottawa can offer you boudin cake -
birthday or not, you will not get any of this tasty treat anywhere else
in the capital. If you didn't know, this is a type of cake that is a
tradition among many northern reserve communities. The recipe is
usually a closely guarded secret passed from one generation to another,
in only a few families. It is always an honor to be invited to eat
At the end of our meal, while sipping coffee, we were surprised by a
visit from the Chefs, Phoebe Sutherland and her husband Warren. They
just stopped by our table to be sure that we enjoyed our meal and to say
thank you. I think that translates to 5 out of 5 stars. ~~~~ Louise
Another Review - Aboriginal Good Times
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