Cheap Eats

The Cookery Bistro & Soup Guy Cafe

The Cookery Bistro 
99 Kakulu Dr., Unit 109, 613-986-9231

The Cookery Bistro takeout and catering shop has been around for five or six years now, a tiny hole-in-the-wall coffee-and-sandwich operation housed in a medical building smack dab in the middle of Kanata. Don’t stop reading! There’s a story here — success in a community filled with big-box stores and chain coffee shops. The key to that success is a central location (it’s within five minutes’ drive of everywhere in Kanata) and, more importantly, owners who offer a fresh alternative, with a short but well-crafted menu of homemade soups, sandwiches, and salads.

Sandwiches are solid and tasty — no surprises in the flavour combinations, but that’s a good thing. Our go-to sandwich is the Bogota Pork, a ciabatta roll filled with layers of spicy pulled pork, apple slices, brie, and spicy greens. Just like you’d make at home (if you actually ever got around to firing up the slow cooker and making pulled pork from scratch). Other combos include the bestselling Pig & Fig (ham, brie, greens, and fig compote) and the Spicy Tuna with cucumber and avocado. Coffee geeks looking for a worthy brew need look no further.

The Cookery Bistro is one of only a few joints in town brewing up high-quality beans from new kid on the block Bluebarn Coffee Roasters out of Wakefield. On our most recent lunchtime visit, coffee was a hot commodity with the office crowd, and we imagine the morning must be bustling (they also serve four types of breakfast sandwiches till 10:30 a.m.). But to our minds, there’s nothing better on a winter afternoon (especially if you have a cold on the go) than the Cookery Elixir, a lemon-ginger brew that combines four simple ingredients — a squirt or two of honey, two or three slices of fresh ginger root, the juice of a lemon, and boiling water. Perfect. The ginger keeps its punch, so refill your mug with hot water halfway through the afternoon. Desserts are generous and homey, if not terribly exciting — think oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and date squares — Sandwiches $7, desserts $3–$4. Open Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Soup Guy Café
873 Bank St., 613-421-5802

After more than two decades serving up soups, paninis, and wraps to office workers at The World Exchange Plaza, Soup Guy Plus doubled its presence in the city last fall when it opened Soup Guy Café on Bank Street near Fifth Avenue in the Glebe. Downtown office workers will be familiar with the original Soup Guy Plus and its gregarious owner, Claudio Fracassi, who is known for naming signature soups after the federal politicians who stop by. Indeed, staff at the Glebe café told us that the impetus to expand came from Glebe-dwelling customers who kept urging Fracassi to launch a locale convenient for them to get dinnertime takeaway.

The concept is simple — seven or eight soups, as well as wraps, paninis, and salads that will appeal to a lunch crowd of students and work-from-homers, while after-work types might stop in for a quick grab-and-go family dinner or to get takeout on the way home. There is a simple but comfortable sit-down area for those choosing to eat in.

The soup lineup rotates regularly, but favourites such as chicken noodle, Italian wedding, and “Stu Mills vegan vegetable” seem to be mainstays. None of the soups are drop-dead exciting, but they are homey and solid and available in family-size portions. The Thai with chicken and mushroom is a good bet: creamy, not too spicy, and chock full of meat, veggies, and rice. Kids love the aforementioned chicken noodle, as well as the cream of potato and bacon — Soup and wrap combo $11, soup $5–$14. Open 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.