Ottawa’s Byward Market: East Meets Mexico at Sidedoor

Ever had bok choy and tacos all in the same meal?  Save for perhaps sharing meals at a mall food court, I would think not.  Enter Sidedoor Contemporary Kitchen and Bar, located in Ottawa’s trendy Byward Market is a Pan Asian-Mexican fusion restaurant with a tapas based menu.  On my last trip to Ottawa in mid-December, my husband and I met a group of his university friends there and had a delicious dinner of a variety of different soft shelled tacos as well as curries and other Asian-inspired dishes.


Soft shell tacos from Sidedoor

As it’s marketed as  tapas/shared plates style, going with a big group is highly encouraged.  After all, the more people, the more dishes you’ll get to try.  Items on the highly recommended to order list include any of the tacos (especially fish and lamb – in our group of approximately 16 people, we probably ordered five or six plates as each order consists of two tacos), braised beef with paeneng curry as well as broiled cod.  The bok choy tips, with a garlicky and buttery taste, is very different from what one might find elsewhere.  The russet potato fries were good, but its “tasty sauce” is pretty much a fancy name for spicy mayonnaise and not something that is all that special.  Finally, though the “Peking Style” cornish hen did taste good, other than colour, it in no way resembles Peking duck.  There were no rice tortillas nor was there hoisin sauce that typically accompanies the dish.  And definitely no second course with lettuce wrap.  It was also much meatier than the duck version.

Peaking Cornish Hen

Peking Style Cornish Hen

Perhaps the most interesting was the dessert.  While “gourmet” doughnuts are certainly “on trend,” how many sit down restaurants offer a doughnut and gelato-only dessert menu?  At Sidedoor, there are three to choose from, in addition to an a featured flavour and assorted platter.  Flavours are, of course, not of your typical Tim Hortons variety (though I wouldn’t say that it’s Glory Hole or Paulette’s in Toronto, either).  The size, which is smaller what one might get at a typical chain, was perfect after a huge meal.


Assorted doughnuts

Sidedoor is located in the Byward Market at 18b York Street.  Reservations can either be made by calling 613-562-9331 or online at Open Table.  Lunch is served Monday to Friday from 11:45 to 2 PM and dinner all week.

About Cynthia Cheng Mintz

Cynthia Cheng Mintz is the founder and webitor-in-chief of this site and the petite-focused site, Shorty Stories. She has also written for other publications including the Toronto Star and has blogged for The Huffington Post. Her first novel, Aspirations, was published in 2007. Outside of writing, Cynthia researches and advises philanthropic ideas for family funds and foundations and also volunteers.

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