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Dining Out: Eldon's in the Glebe delivers tasty dishes in comfy space

The two-month-old restaurant on Bank Street stresses local ingredients, from-scratch cooking and minimal food waste.

Eldon’s

775 Bank St., 613-565-0101, eldons.ca

Open: Tuesday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., 5 to 10 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; closed Monday

Prices: Brunch items $8 to $16, mains $16 to $26 at dinner

Access: small ramp to front door


When we go out to eat, we take for granted that the restaurant’s goal should be to give us, in exchange for our hard-earned money, some very tasty food, perhaps an enjoyable beverage or two, and, overall, a memorable experience.


At Eldon’s, which opened in the Glebe, two months ago, there’s a mission statement posted near its entrance that describes an additional objective.


“We strive to be part of the agricultural community and give back to the farmers that provide for us,” reads the message on the chalkboard. “At Eldon’s, our food waste is put aside and sent back to the farms and serves as an organic food for the animals.”


So, just a few steps in, this narrow, homey eatery announces both its farm-to-table bona fides and its green conscientiousness. If stars were awarded, an extra one should go to recognize Eldon’s virtue. Happily, the easy-going eatery of about 24 seats also delivered tasty food and enjoyable beverages during my three recent and pleasantly recalled visits.


Eldon’s is owned jointly by 32-year-old chef Cory Baird, an Ottawa native, and 26-year-old Marhlee Gaudet, who oversees its books and dining room and has personably dispensed useful information about food and wine while serving. The couple, a team in business and life, met in Toronto, where Baird was cooking in restaurant kitchens and playing in the new wave electro-hip hop group Dream Jefferson.


Shunting music to the side, Baird, who never went to cooking school, returned with Gaudet to Ottawa last spring to open Eldon’s, which replaces a Bank Street burrito place with something more distinctive.


While the vibe of Eldon’s is casual and unassuming, with white brick and concrete walls adorned with mirrors and rustic touches and an open kitchen in the back, it clearly feels like a personalized space. Indeed, Baird told me this week that Eldon’s is named after his grandfather. While serving me last weekend, Gaudet mentioned that the charming teacup-and-saucer combo on our table had been in her family.


Relying on local producers such as Acorn Creek Garden Farm, Juniper Farm, Peabody Farm and Ferme Rêveuse, plus further-afield purveyors including pork producer Gaspor north of Montreal and Pilot Coffee Roasters in Toronto, Baird has drawn up tautly contained but appealing brunch and dinner menus that feature fresh and simple from-scratch dishes.


At lunch and brunch I’ve enjoyed plates in which clean-flavoured and succulent smoked trout and pulled pork were stars, either in sandwiches or paired with brightly dressed greens and fine roasted potatoes and poached eggs. Open-faced sandwiches of roasted vegetables and heirloom tomatoes felt well-composed and complete and pleased the meat abstainers at our table. A French lentil salad melded its herbal and celery notes nicely.


Smoked trout with potatoes and salad at Eldon’s


Pulled pork sandwich at Eldon’s


Lenti salad at Eldon’s


Roasted vegetable sandwich at Eldon’s


Plates at dinner saw quality ingredients presented honestly and with minimal manipulation or distracting accoutrements so that their inherent flavours shone.


The Enright Cattle butcher’s steak ($22) — typically a piece of flatiron, skirt or flank steak, Baird told me this week — and the Gaspor pork “striploin” ($26) — meat taken from the small, milk-fed pig’s loin, but closer to the butt — prioritized forthright flavour and meatiness over tenderness.


Butchers steak at Eldon’s


Pork striploin at Eldon’s


Some at our table objected to extra chewing, but I supported Baird’s priorities and those lesser-known cuts of meat. Both dishes included thoughtfully chosen sides to balance the meats. With the beef came a sauce of roasted red peppers and a blanket of garlic scapes. The pork was offset very well by a white bean purée for starchiness, peaches for sweetness and charred radicchio for bitterness.


Chicken and dumplings ($18) was as comforting as it needed to be, although my bite of a friend’s dumpling did not wow. More impressive, I thought, was a plate of simply crusted and cooked pieces of Lake Erie pickerel ($24), in which the fish played very nicely with creamed corn, Swiss chard and cherry tomatoes.


Chicken and dumplings at Eldon’s


Pickerel with corn, cherry tomatoes and Swiss chard


None of these plates was all that massive. If you seek to get stuffed while dining out, then an all-you-can-eat buffet will suit you better than Eldon’s. But there is something about the avoidance of gluttony — and of super-sized pricing — that’s in line with Eldon’s admirable ethos.


Desserts included fresh berries ($5) with some of the simple farmers cheese — but sweetened — that figures on many a dish, and an OK bowl of poached peach with almond crumble ($7), plus pastries from Ottawa’s Art Is In Bakery.


Berries and cream at Eldon’s


Poached peaches at Eldon’s


What improvements at Eldon’s could I suggest? Perhaps a little more consistency, given that potatoes that were perfect at one mid-day meal were over-cooked at another, or that some dishes, while likeable and interesting, seemed just a touch under-seasoned while those over-cooked potatoes were too heavily salted.


But, I’m talking about a few grains of salt here and there. I should grouse more loudly that Eldon’s hard metal chairs could use some cushions if you want to sit a spell and enjoy the surroundings, which is something that comes entirely naturally here.


phum@postmedia.com

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Peter Hum’s restaurant reviews


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