One exciting prize from the Ottawa Foodie Challenge was a gift certificate for $200 at the Pelican Fishery and Grill, a small restaurant and fish market tucked away in the same plaza as the Farm Boy on Bank street. I firmly believe that this is one of Ottawa’s best kept secrets – the prices are much more reasonable than you would find in a trendy Ottawa neighbourhood and the food surpasses much of what I have had in those so-called trendy neighbourhoods. Visiting the Pelican Grill has been high on my to-do list since Bon Appetit – their smoked salmon was one of the highlights of the event for me.
My dining companion, Jessica, and I set ourselves a goal of spending the full amount, and it was a definite challenge. I would like to thank their delicious list of wines by the glass for helping us meet our goal!
To start (and I’m not including the bread here – which was also amazing) – Jessica had never tried fresh oysters, eaten the way nature intended. So we made an impulse purchase of the Tower of Power, a sharing platter with six jumbo shrimp and six flavourful oysters.
So far, so good. Of course, we couldn’t divert too much from our plan so we had to stick to our strategy – devised primarily through anticipatory text messages – and order the lobster poutine and the crab cakes.
The crab cakes were stuffed full, and met with my approval. There is nothing I hate more than a sparse crab cake and I suspect that the fine people behind the Pelican Grill feel the same way. Their garlic aioli was flavourful and a nice complement to the crab cake – but, to be honest – a bit unnecessary since the crab cake and the batter itself was well seasoned and could easily be eaten on its own.
As for the lobster poutine? Highly recommended. The lobster was perfectly cooked and despite its price of only $10 had oodles of lobster tucked throughout the dish. This was a surprisingly excellent value – a term I rarely use with respect to “lobster poutine” – and any foodies craving this decadent treat should make this their first stop.
Online reviews raved about both the salmon and the fish ‘n chips… so we decided to follow the crowd.
The salmon was served on a small cedar plank, a nice touch but unnecessary. It was moist and flaky, the freshness of the fish evident with every bite. We were sure to eat every last bit of the vegetables as they were perfectly cooked – not too soft, not too crisp. I was barely able to contain myself – and Jessica – from digging into the plate while I took the photo.
Fish and chips have two breading options – one was a Beau’s beer batter and the other was a panko crusted fish. After discussing it with our waiter and deciding that we should continue to “go big or go home”, we opted for the Beau’s beer batter and we chose the halibut (the other option was haddock). It did not disappoint! It was a light coating of batter which evenly fried up with a beautiful golden colour. We knew the fries would be delicious, thanks to the lobster poutine, and the slaw itself was lightly dressed. The tarter sauce was another hit and we both too advantage of the generous serving.
Finally, dessert. What can I say that hasn’t already been said? It was delicious. It was the perfect ending to what was pretty much a perfect night. We were extremely happy with the service that was provided, including the wine and food recommendations from our server. The best part is that we came in just under our $200 goal – with all of the food above, plus a glass of wine each per course, we paid $198.77 (not including tip).
I also know that this is one of the the worst food reviews ever as I have nothing critical to say – and maybe it was all the wine – but it was a truly wonderful evening and it did not disappoint.
A few points on logistics, however. We chose not to drive, as we were drinking, but one benefit of the strip mall location is that there is an abundance of parking available. You may have to point out to a cab driver where you are going, however, as the Pelican Fishery & Grill is truly a bit of a hidden gem – rest assured, it is easy to find once you have some direction and if you can give them some guidance. Finally – if you want to pick up some fresh seafood from the Fishery after you eat, you need to plan ahead as the fishery will close up before the grill! I also recommend reservations as the Grill itself is quite small and they do book up.
Go! Eat! Enjoy!