Another ‘elevated fast food’ restaurant opened recently: Shelby is the newest addition to the clutch of restaurants that includes fine dining establishment Riviera, Asian-inspired Datsun, and two El Camino locations serving Mexican fare. Shelby aspires to do for the burger what so many excellent little restaurants in Ottawa have done for the taco – keep it simple, old school, and seriously good. It’s even written right on the paper bag: Old School.
What’s in the paper bag?
Shelby serves a short menu of smashed, grass-fed beef burgers, “the way burgers used to be,” according to the Instagram page @eatshelbyburger. Sandwiched into soft potato buns, the meat, which comes from small family farms in PEI, is served with vibrant orange American cheese, pickles, and secret Shelby sauce. You can add any number of additional fixins’ such as bacon, lettuce, onions, and tomato. Beef not your thing? Go with a crispy chicken or a celery root schnitzel. Round out that order with a side of onion rings, fries (herby or sweet potato), or a poutine for the serious appetite.
What’s with the name?
Shelby is tied to its sister restaurants by a loose theme: vintage cars (Buick Riviera and Nissan’s Datsun brand). Named after the Shelby Mustang, which was designed by race car driver Carroll Shelby, the vintage vibe runs through the interior of the space on William Street in the ByWard Market.
The paint, both inside and out, has been matched to British Downspout Green, a Farrow and Ball colour synonymous with vintage racing cars in the U.K. Inside, a vintage diner-style decor speaks to the unpretentious food on offer. A jukebox from Tyler’s Jukebox in Aylmer sits alongside a whole 1960s diner set in vibrant aquamarine that came from Buffalo, NY. Other vintage touches include exposed brick walls, hanging lights from SMASH Salvage in Hamilton, and the door to the bathroom, which came from a rural Ontario antique store.
Where can I eat a Shelby burger?
As new COVID rules have once again closed indoor dining spaces, Shelby is offering take-out only, but its grab bags are simple and efficient and there are a couple of eating shelves along the exterior wall on William Street, as well as plenty of places to sit in the Byward Market area.
Shelby Burger, 11 William St.
Open for take out Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.