OCTOBER 2011: The hole-in-the-wall handbook, on newsstands Oct. 1
Print Magazine

OCTOBER 2011: The hole-in-the-wall handbook, on newsstands Oct. 1


  • Saturday night fever with LUCKY RON
  • Back to the grind with HAPPY GOAT COFFEE COMPANY
  • GROOVY’s ROTI HUT serves up groovy jazz
  • Sweet deals for adrenalin junkies at  the GEAR GARAGE
  • RAW SUGAR‘s alt-music scene
  • Chewy sugar cookies at RICHMOND BAKERY
  • A night at the lanes at WEST PARK BOWLING
  • ORANGE MONKEY‘s got game

Letter from the Editor

Twelve years and two moves ago, I lived in a little loft apartment in Lowertown. Across the road was a tiny hole in the wall with a sign over the door that read Groovy’s Roti Hut. The sign immediately rubbed me the wrong way (I am, after all, an editor and, therefore, a grammar stickler by nature and training). Perhaps it was a “groovy roti hut,” but there was no way I was going to frequent a restaurant with an errant apostrophe. Then one fateful day, just as I was passing by, the owner came walking out the door. “Yo, Groovy,” his friend called out from across the street. “What’s happening?”

“Not much,” replied Groovy. “Just making roti. You know.”

There was an actual Groovy — and no errant apostrophe! I was in there like a flash for a jerk chicken roti to go, and Groovy’s Roti Hut quickly became one of my local haunts. A few years later, the restaurant moved onto McArthur Avenue in Vanier but maintained its tongue-numbing Caribbean menu, dedicated clientele of roti lovers, and hole-in-the-wall status. It’s one of 38 businesses that made the final cut when senior editor Dayanti Karunaratne narrowed down a hefty list of contenders for “hidden Ottawa,” our first ever hole-in-the-wall handbook to the city’s under-the-radar restaurants, stores, halls, and bars. Read on to discover 37 more businesses just waiting to be discovered.

And while we’re on the topic of underground worlds, we shine the spotlight on the potentially lucrative sport of online poker. It’s a world that becomes less underground every day as the best online poker players become celebrities in their own right, earning millions through their online efforts, endorsements, and a few face-to-face tournaments. One local star is Marc Karam, a man who has made millions on the online poker circuit. Roger Collier profiles Karam, who explains (without giving away all his secrets) just what makes him so good. While typical casino games like blackjack or roulette are all about luck, he is adamant that poker is not. “In the end, everybody is going to get the same hands the same number of times,” he points out. “What determines if you are going to win or not is if you can make better decisions than your opponents.”

Unfortunately for Karam and his fellow poker pros, the United States government does not agree and has launched a war on the industry, shutting down three major online poker sites. The government claims that poker is gambling — a game of pure luck. As the debate continues to rage (and wend its way through the courts), Karam proves his point by continuing to beat the odds — and adding to his pot.

COMING UP: Ottawa Magazine food editor and City Bites blogger Shawna Wagman tells us which restaurants are wowing her this year, regular contributor Ron Corbett catches up with a group of war vets known as the A Team, and we gear up for Christmas with our annual holiday shopping guide.

Sarah Brown, EDITOR