We visited BDT on the evening of Good Friday, after an afternoon of shopping on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River, when we were looking for a place to have a quick, late dinner. I had been to the restaurant once before, a few months ago, as part of a large group for a work event, and remembered it as being quite good, so off we went. It is a lovely old grey stone building built right beside a flowing "river" (creek?). It seems that there is no designated parking per se, but there is a lot across the street from the restaurant's front door (accessed from Papineau St.) that offers free parking in the evenings. Both times I visited I readily found a space and we just dashed across the street and right into the restaurant. In the dark of the evening, the beautiful stone building is lit in a really unfortunate blue-light glow that doesn't seem to match with the quality or atmosphere of the place. Inside, the restaurant was busy with the noisy din that accompanies a lot of people enjoying an evening out in an open space with high ceilings. It wasn't so loud that we couldn't readily have a conversation, so it was actually kind of comforting and added to the ambiance. On my previous visit, we had been led down a curving ramp in the centre of the space to a long table on a lower level, where our large group fit comfortably. This time around there were just three of us and we were immediately seated at a table literally just a few feet from the front door and almost equidistant from the restaurant's length of dedicated bar space. Beggars can't be choosers, and we were wandering in at 8:30 PM on a busy Friday night after all, so we took the offered table and settled in. The space is large but because it is broken up into smaller sections (upper and lower) by the design of the room, it feels more intimate. There is a lot of light wood panelling on the walls (including an art-like piece composed of wooden slats, displaying the bottles behind the bar) and dark wood tables and chairs, off-set against a few unpanelled walls that are painted a dark terra-cotta colour. There are plenty of over-sized windows that probably flood the place with light during the day. Even when ithe room was full and buzzing with activity, the space felt relaxed and cozy, just as I think a local pub should. We didn't pay it much attention, but, for those with an interest, the on-site brewing equipment can be seen through glass walls towards the rear of the restaurant and there is a length of hallway that serves as a sort of beer museum, displaying various historical artifacts (e.g., vintage crates, bottles, signage, and beer brewing apparatus). Our waiter, a smiling young man, arrived a few minutes after we were seated and inquired about drink orders, in French. Hearing our sad attempt at responding in his native tongue, he quickly switched to an impeccable level of unaccented English that instantly made me jealous of his fluent bilingualism. Over the next two hours, we found the service to be excellent. He was always within view of our seats and was prompt and attentive without ever being intrusive. We loved his positive attitude and gracious service. He seemed to having fun, which is enviable in any job. We could see him joking with the other staff at the bar as he passed by, and engaging with the guests at the other tables in his section in the same way that he dealt with us. Perhaps most interestingly, he seemed to know everyone who came and went through the nearby front door! Lots of people, both his own age and much older (i.e., our age!), men and women alike, stopped by to bump knuckles with him, exchange a few words, or even to get a quick hug, as they were heading in or out of the restaurant. Again, the place just has a really comfortable local feel where everyone is welcome. Happy to be off our feet and in no rush to move on, we decided to try the beer sampler (i.e., L'horloge, or "clock"). Each sampler arrived on its own tray with a circle of tiny 3-oz glasses lined up around its outer edge, with just a little space left between the first and last glasses, meant to mark the start and finish of the tasting journey. We enjoyed having a sip or two from each little glass before looking at the beer menu to read the name and description. Being far from beer connoisseurs, we appreciated the few sentences of description provided on the menu to jump-start our tongue-in-cheek review of each one. We found a few that we really liked and some that weren't to our personal tastes, and our only regret was that there was no little glass of the featured "guest" beer on the tray. I guess that 13th glass would have messed with the clock-like presentation of the tray. Although it initially seemed like a lot of beer to order, in reality each tray totals barely more than two standard pints and the sampler lasted us through the whole evening, supplemented by a few glasses of ice-cold water. And now we know which beers we would each order in larger glasses on our next visit. As for the dinner, we all enjoyed our meals. The bilingual menu is provided in one tall, thin folder, with the French in the front and the English following, and there are a handful of choices in each food category. Despite some tempting-sounding appetizers, we opted to start with a single shared dish of classic poutine. When in Quebec, after all... We were not disappointed, as the fries were piping hot, the gravy delicious, and the cheese squeeky (just as it should be), but next time I will try something more traditional as a starter. (The escargot poached in beer and topped with garlic butter and cheese will no doubt cry out to me again and next time I will heed its call.) The few nibbles of poutine each just primed us for the prompt arrival of our main meals. I had the calves liver, which was served perfectly cooked (i.e., still soft and moist), along with a mound of mashed potatoes, and thickly coated with the promised "maple whisky bacon" jam, which was equally sweet and smoky. There were two palm-sized pieces of liver, decoratively overlapped and draped across the potatoes. There were also some steamed vegetables on the plate (some brocolli and zucchini) that were fine but which were easily overlooked in favour of the rich flavours of the liver and the smooth texture of the potato mash. I resisted the urge to lick the last vestiges of the gravy from the plate. My friends also enjoyed their dishes. As a Maritimer, and perhaps feeling the guilt of possibly bucking the religious tradition of not eating meat on Good Friday, one friend ordered the fish and chips. White hake isn't as traditional as its cousin, the cod, but he enjoyed the dish all the same. He had only ordered the one-piece portion size and was glad that he did, as it made for a full plate when served with more of the piping hot fries. In particular, he mentioned that he appreciated the light, crispy batter. My other friend crossed herself and ordered the flank steak. She ate it all, proclaiming it to be one of the best she'd ever had, and lightning never did strike... It came served as ordered, medium rare with just a hint of pink running throug the middle of each bias-cut slice. The slices were fanned on the plate and accompanied by an apparently delicious shallot sauce, and more of those same fries. (They were said to be "herbed" but they didn't really seem to be any different from the others we had enjoyed, which was fine.) Although we were all stuffed from eating our plates clean, we could not resist ordering the creme brulée simply because earlier in that same day we had been talking about our distaste for the trend of adding flavours to this traditional dessert, rather than sticking to the good old-fashioned vanilla bean version. (The scent of lavendar reminds me of delicate older women of good breeding and therefore does not seem right as an addition to one of my favourite desserts...) Without being asked, our waiter automatically brought three spoons to the table so that we could all have a taste. The sugar shell was thick and required a good whack of the spoon to crack it open. The custard included tell-tale speckles of black vanilla bean and was a terrific end to a great meal. Although the interior of the BDT gives off a comfortable, casual feeling, the presentation and quality of its food and beverages makes it more upscale than your standard pub, and its prices reflect that fact. At the end of the evening, our bill was $175, including tax and a 20% tip for great service. Nearly $70 of that total was the beer portion of our meal (i.e., the three samplers) and the quality and portion sizes of the food warranted the prices charged. Located just a few minutes from downtown Ottawa, I will definitely make the effort to cross the bridge more often to enjoy this restaurant. The outdoor patio area, overlooking the water, will surely be a nice place to wile away an afternoon once the warmer weather arrives.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.