Culinary exploration is the new vacation. Here, three new spots that bring the world to a neighbourhood near you.
If travel is still daunting, take a trip to Italy via the new Giulia on Elgin Street. Eating outside in the new Boushey Square under umbrellas at picnic tables with vintage hanging lights and a giant mural at your back, you could be forgiven for mistaking your location for a contemporary Neapolitan piazza. You’ll find blistered oven-fired thin-crust pizzas and soft-serve ice cream with olive oil and chocolate budino. Brick walls, warm wood, industrial-chic vintage chairs, and charcoal grey walls, as well as a giant statement pizza oven, keep the vibe upscale yet familiar. Combined with the pizza, it’s a winning recipe.
Let your taste buds do the travelling at Vivaan on Preston Street. From street food to classic curries, the flavours of India are both subtle and at times pungent in food prepared by chef-owner Teegavarapu Sarath. Vivaan is the reincarnation of NH44, Sarath’s former restaurant; both the food and the space are rather more sophisticated. Elements of street food remain, such as crispy corn, and traditional curries such as butter chicken and Mughlai lamb hit the spot. A shrimp curry is exceptional, with the juicy (not overcooked) shellfish floating in a creamy, lightly coconut-scented sauce.
This sleek and sophisticated restaurant, housed in the shell of a former pub, is the closest thing yet to a trip to France. With elements of stained glass, soaring ceilings, black-and-white tiled floors, and velvet booths, this restaurant on Boulevard Saint-Joseph in Gatineau is both chic and hip. But it’s the smell that will transport you: tottering seafood towers, oysters, and seafood risotto pass by, and my nose screams, “Classic Paris bistro!” Lobster tacos, elk tartare, grilled romaine wedges with wild boar belly, and arancini with black garlic mayonnaise are all perfect. No need to book a flight, but you will need to book a table. It’s hopping.