OCCO Kitchen & Bar is the latest OCCO success story for chef Mark Steele, who has spent the past year overseeing the launch of the 180-seat restaurant and café at Albert at Bay Suite Hotel (435 Albert St.).
A former hotel executive chef (he worked for both the Hilton chain and at the Ottawa Marriott), Steele went solo in 2015, first opening the hole-in-the-wall OCCO Takeout and then expanding with the 200-seat OCCO Kitchen in 2016. (He recently closed the small takeout to focus on the two larger restaurants.)
OCCO Kitchen & Bar continues Steele’s theme of “local, craft, scratch” with the everything-from-scratch handmade burgers, tacos, and salads he’s become known for. Steele says he couldn’t turn down the opportunity to make a mark at this centrally located hotel, which he sees becoming even more of a hub as LRT, Zibi, and (eventually) Lebreton come onstream.
An attached café appeals to the passing office crowd, with a takeout service (everything on the regular menu is available for takeout) and a sit-down area serving up artisanal doughnuts and coffee from three local roasters (Happy Goat, Little Victories, and Poppa Bean).
Sample Menu Items:
Duck confit spring rolls with mango jalapeno chutney, green onion frills, and chipotle mayo
Cauliflower wings with OCCO Asian sauce, cilantro, and burnt onion cream
Newfoundland cod cakes with caperberry mayo, fresh herbs, and citrus slaw
“Chicken club” tacos with candied bacon, chipotle lime mayo, jalapeno, heirloom cherry tomato, and sweet mini peppersThe Hamre burger with AAA Chuck, black garlic guac, cracked pepper mayo, vine tomatoes, smoked cheddar, and candied bacon
East Coast donair with Halifax donair sauce, scratch donair AAA beef, cheddar, sweet and hot peppers, cherry tomato, red onions
Find It: 435 Albert St., open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Hot Tip: Chef Steele is originally from Newfoundland, so if you’re in the mood for seafood head straight for the East Coast classics — seafood chowder, craft beer battered Atlantic cod and chips, and Newfoundland cod cakes.
Hot Tip #2: Sweets lovers in the vicinity would do well to grab some doughnuts to go as they pass the café. At press time Steele was still finalizing his recipes, but a sampling that day included raspberry-lime tequila, Ecuadorian chocolate, and dulce de leche with toasted marshmallows.
Hot Tip #3: It seems a long way away right now, but when summer finally arrives make a note to slap on some sunscreen and do some serious patio time. OCCO Kitchen & Bar has a 50-seat outdoor patio planned. Bonus — there’s an outdoor oven (for homemade pizza) and a tap lineup that includes eight local craft beers.