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Some time ago, the boy promised to take me out on a real date. Unfortunately our last pre-summer/treeplanting weeks in London were filled with errands – moving the contents of our apartment into storage, on his part: final papers & exams, on my part: wrapping things up in the lab so as to leave things at a natural breaking point for the next research assistant.

Putting London on hold, we decided to postpone the date until Ottawa.
Enter e18hteen.

Classically trained Matthew Carmichael’s menu features local ingredients. Despite the unsurprisingly little amount of ‘adventurous’ foods, the dinner turned out extremely tasty. We created our own tasting: they “usually” only allow blind tastings if the entire table partakes, so we couldn’t manage to convince the waiter to serve a few extra blind dishes in addition to one order of the tasting menu.

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The glory of St. Patty’s day includes city-block-long line ups in front of Hurley’s at 8:30pm, so we ventured next door to Brutopia instead. Of course, the female bartender served the men before even taking our order, but I would have acted similarly if it meant more tips in my pocket. Drinks in hand, (chocolate stout! – the boy was proud) we agreed that venturing out was indeed a Good Idea. Besides – I now own a button with a shamrock!

Onwards, upwards: to St. Laurent, where poutine lay to be consumed. Frites Alors was suggested, and I politely turned it down, offering an adventure to Mondo Fritz instead – I found the former’s poute to be ‘okay’ the last (and only) time I was there, as the ‘meh’ quality of their fries became the limiting factor. My only other encounter with Mondo Fritz was a couple of years ago, when the line-up for Schwartz’s was too long for my grumbling stomach – I remember the burger being okay, but fries plus flavoured mayos definitely hit the spot. Yesterday, we ordered the Alpine poutine to share (serving size = massive for just the two of us): chevre, mushrooms, grated cheddar, topped with peppercorn gravy. The fries were fantastic in their ‘european-style’ goodness – not too thickly sliced (definitely not shoestring, either), skin-on potatoes, deep fried to produce fries with the perfect ratio of golden-crisp-outer-layer to layer-of-inner-softness. Water is served in label-less wine bottles, and the woman who took our order friendly and efficient. Moral of the story: if you’re going to have a heart attack in a bowl, you may as well go all out. I’m definitely going to have to try their other variations – topped with sausage, or steak… To my veg friends: rumour has it that their gravy is meat-less!

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