Romantic date-night restaurants in Ottawa

Whether it’s your very first date or your first night out in ages sans kids, you’re probably looking for a restaurant with cozy nooks and intimate lighting. A cool soundtrack you don’t have to shout over is a bonus, and the menu should feel as special as the evening. These romantic date-night restaurants in Ottawa deliver the goods.

Sur Lie Restaurant

1
110 Murray St, Ottawa, ON K1N 5M6

Chef Steve Mitton calls his meat-forward menu “farmhouse cooking,” and so it is – if your farm had won a posse of awards from magazines and websites across the land. This is the spot for adventurous foodies who would much rather compare the merits of beef heart and oxtail in an unpretentious atmosphere (dishes have names such as I Heart Ewe) than dine in a stuffy, white-tablecloth restaurant. There are fish and vegetarian dishes, too, for non-carnivores. On a warm summer night, opt for the pretty patio at the back.

Play Food & Wine

2
1 York St, Ottawa, ON K1N 5S7

At Play, the servers are knowledgeable, the vibe is festive and the menu of shareable small plates is so diverse that it always sparks conversation. What more could one ask of a first-date destination? Menu choices may include anything from tempura broccoli to octopus with jalapeño. Charcuterie options pair rich cured meats with sides such as balsamic strawberry jam. And the wine list is extensive. If the date is going well, just keep ordering into the wee hours (the kitchen stays open until 11:45 pm on weekends).

Fourth Avenue Limited

3
107 Fourth Ave MN Fl, Ottawa, ON K1S 2L1

In winter, this small bar on the bottom floor of a former semi-detached house feels like a cozy shelter from the storm; in warmer weather, the patio at the back is a secluded spot to clink glasses under the stars. The food menu is small, light and classic – think steak sandwiches, bacon-wrapped dates and shrimp salad. The focus here is on the wine list, which leans toward New World wines; everything is available by the bottle or glass. There’s also a nice selection of beer, single-malt whiskies and cocktails.

Fraser Cafe

4
7 Springfield Rd, Ottawa, ON K1M 1C8

Brothers Ross and Simon Fraser have created a neighbourhood favourite with citywide appeal, due mainly to their clever use of fresh, local ingredients. The ever-changing menu offers diverse fish, meat and vegetarian choices, often with a twist, such as squash and goat cheese agnolotti accented with kale, hazelnuts, lemon and brown butter. The open kitchen adds to the lively atmosphere; in fact, things can get a little noisy on a crowded evening, but conversation is rarely difficult.

Atelier Inc

5
540 Rochester St, Ottawa, ON K1S 4M1

If money's no object and a unique culinary experience is your goal, this 22-seat restaurant has few rivals in Ottawa. Don’t be fooled by the unremarkable-looking grey house surrounded by office blocks; the intimate dining room inside is a great locale for a memorable date. There’s no set menu; instead, chef Marc Lepine devises a new 12-course tasting menu every night. Small plates embellished with flowers or foams are like miniature works of art. Count on the whole experience taking about three hours, giving you lots of time to chat with your dinner companion. Plan ahead as reservations are mandatory.

The Buzz Bar & Restaurant

6
374 Bank St, Ottawa, ON K2P 1Y4

A quiet haven on a stretch of busy pubs, the Buzz is a bit of a local secret. Warm brick walls and deep banquettes create a cozy ambiance, often complemented by soft jazz or lounge music on the sound system. The menu ranges widely, from steak frites to lobster ravioli, and the appetizers are delicious (don’t miss the whole roasted garlic with warm goat cheese and chutney). A few more reasons to visit: you can BYOB several nights a week, the service is stellar and the vibe is LGBT friendly.

Antipazzo Italian Plates And Wine

7
1091 Bank St, Ottawa, ON K1S 3X4

When locavore chef John Taylor closed his groundbreaking Domus restaurant a few years ago, food lovers across Ottawa panicked. But there was no need; today, his 30-seat eponymous restaurant on Bank Street serves delectable fare with the same attention to detail, at slightly lower prices. The regularly changing menu highlights local producers and the carefully chosen wine list prominently features Canadian vintages. Not looking for a whole meal? Drop in for after-dinner charcuterie, desserts or artisanal cheeses for sharing.

Martinis are old news in Ottawa – unless they’re made with herb-infused vodka from an artisanal distillery. These days, craft cocktails are all the rage at the capital’s trendy restaurants. Whether it’s shaken, stirred or garnished with a sprig of rosemary, a drink from one of these inventive establishments will quench your thirst in a whole new way.
Frothy bubbles, elegant flutes, that one-of-a-kind tingle – nothing says “special occasion” quite like a glass of champagne or sparkling wine. Whether you’re looking to celebrate an engagement, an anniversary, a promotion or simply the weekend, here are some excellent places to clink your glasses.
If there were a hall of fame for comforting aromas, the scent of fresh-baked bread would surely make the cut. And when it comes to tastes, buttercream icing can transport you right back to Grandma’s kitchen. Having a stressful day? A few delectable treats from these Ottawa bakeries will help cheer you right up.
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