City Bites

‘Where everybody knows your name’ — The Third brings small town feel to bustling corner

Located on a jam-packed Wellington Street corner, with coffee shops and eateries (Café My House and Ministry of Coffee next door; a Bridgehead and the Hintonburg Public House across the street), The Third has its own strategy for standing out — going back to basics.

Owner Ashley Struthers, who grew up in Merrickville but stayed in Ottawa after finishing university here, hopes The Third will replicate the best things about a small town. “Because I’m from a small town, I love that feeling of knowing my neighbours. That’s what I want The Third to become — a place where people come together and everyone feels welcome.”

But then, what does ‘The Third’ refer to? And, in replicating the “best things about a small town”, what will the restaurant actually serve?

The Name

Back in 1989, an influential American urban sociologist by the name of Ray Oldenburg coined the term “third place” and put out a couple of books highlighting the importance of those “third places” — the informal gathering spaces so crucial to promoting a healthy civil society, democracy, and civic engagement. (For the record, the “first place” is the home, while the “second place” is the office.)

And so, Struthers has named her inaugural restaurant The Third, eager to create a neighbourhood eatery that will become a Hintonburg gathering spot — an informal but crucial space, along with a person’s home and office.

The Third serves a right-sized portion of haddock and chips for just $10
The Third serves a right-sized portion of haddock and chips for just $10

The Menu

The idea is to keep it simple, with a small and classic menu that appeals to neighbours wanting to stop in for a casual bite and families with kids in tow. “The menu items aren’t new, but they will be quality,” Struthers promises. “The idea is to serve dishes that give you a warm, comforting feeling.” A really good club sandwich, for instance.

To avoid food waste, portion sizes will be smaller than in a traditional diner, more in line with what you might serve if you were cooking for yourself. The idea is that neighbours will make this a regular drop-in spot (it will be open for lunch and dinner, Monday to Friday, and brunch and dinner on Saturday and Sunday. The brunch service starts Dec. 23). Bonus: wall plugs are regularly spaced so anyone can plug in the laptop and stay a while.

The Third's compact menu includes a pork tenderloin dish served with paprika cabbage slaw, sweet potatoes, sour cream, and cilantro
The Third’s compact menu includes a pork tenderloin dish served with paprika cabbage slaw, sweet potatoes, sour cream, and cilantro

Menu Sampler

Snacks

  • Salted, homemade potato chips ($3)
  • Sweet potato fries with spicy mayo ($5)
  • Nachos with homemade salsa, jalapenos, sour cream, and green onions ($7)

Mains

  • Classic triple decker club on homemade bread ($11)
  • Fish and chips (haddock) ($10)
  • Chicken under a brick (1/4 chicken/panko sweet potato mac & cheese) ($12)
  • Pork tenderloin (with paprika cabbage slaw/sweet potatoes/sour cream/cilantro) ($11)

Drinks Sampler

  • A dozen beers on tap, many of them local, cost $5.50-$6.50 for 473mL
  • Wine on tap (Vineland Cabernet and Vineland Chardonnay) is $6.25/5oz; $10/10oz

The Design

Those familiar with the neighbourhood will remember Blackpepper Urban Pub in this location — dark, a bit dreary, and worse for wear. Struthers, who has been working on the interior since May, has given the 42-seat restaurant a fresh coat of paint, lightening things up with cheerful white and kelly green walls, classic diner chairs discovered in Montreal, and archival photographs of old Hintonburg for artwork. “I wanted it to feel more welcoming — clean but comfortable,” she explains.

Dave Allston, an expert on all things history and heritage in the neighbourhood, helped with the research, turning up old photos showing that the building was once a Chinese laundry and sourcing other neat shots from days gone by.

The Third, 1017 Wellington St., (613) 728-2965