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Shore Club

December 19, 2014

At some point in time, my husband and I both discussed our desire to travel to Montreal.  My husband had briefly been to Montreal before with his sister but wanted to go back and explore the area further.  Despite having been to Canada many times, I had never been to Montreal before and it was high on my list of places I wanted to see.  And, if you knew my husband and I, you’d know that we are big time ice hockey fans, so with that knowledge, you’d understand further why we’d both want to go to Montreal.  At the beginning of the year as my husband and I were figuring out our vacations for the year, my husband came to me with an idea to take a couple of days off of work and travel to not only Montreal, but to Ottawa as well.  Ottawa had never been on my radar as a “must see” location, but it made sense in terms of making the most of our time off of work and seeing and doing as much as possible on vacation.  So we finalized our plans and went forward with a trip that included a Tuesday night flight from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, a transit to a different airline for a flight from Las Vegas to Ottawa via Toronto.  After all was said and done, we arrived into Ottawa mid morning on Wednesday.  We’d stay in Ottawa until Friday when we’d take a train for an hour-plus ride from Ottawa to Montreal, where we’d stay until Monday.  On Monday, we’d take a flight from Montreal to Los Angeles via a layover long enough in Minneapolis to meet up with my sister-in-law and her husband for a quick dinner.  Whew, the travel schedule alone was hectic enough.

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After a long evening of travel, and transiting airports, we finally arrived into Ottawa on Wednesday morning.  It took us a bus ride to make it to our hotel, and then after that another bit of waiting until our room became available so that we could check in.  After quickly taking a shower and freshening up, it was time to walk the few blocks to Parliament Hill to explore the political sights of Canada’s capital, including going up the Peace Tower, paying respects at the National War Memorial (which now takes on a whole new meaning after the terrorist attack at this site just 6 weeks after we visited), and touring the Centre and East Blocks of the Parliament.  By the time evening came around, we were ready to sit down to a good meal and wind down from our whirlwind day.  To make things easy, especially since we definitely didn’t have the energy for anything else, we decided to grab dinner at our hotel’s restaurant, The Shore Club.  We had read in advance that the Shore Club was actually quite a popular restaurant in town that served good steaks and seafood.  Sounds like a good combination to me, plus the fact that we just had to walk across the lobby to the restaurant won us over.  A good meal to boot, that would be icing on the cake.  Being that it was Wednesday evening, the restaurant was sparsely occupied when we arrived, which is exactly what we were hoping for.

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The meal started with the traditional bread and butter.  The bread was some sort of crusty French bread that my husband and I absolutely devoured.  After having traveled most of the night, we grabbed some donuts and coffee at the airport in Ottawa when we landed, but had pretty much skipped over lunch altogether.  By the time we arrived at dinner we were famished and bread and butter on the table was like putting a glass of water in front of a dehydrated person.  We finished off that loaf of butter in about 2.5 seconds!

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Shortly after we placed our dinner order the waiter brought to our table an amuse bouche courtesy of the chef.  The small bite, served in a ceramic spoon was a shrimp and scallop ceviche with red pepper and crouton.  The shrimp and scallop were so fresh and incredibly flavorful.  Even considering that I don’t like red peppers, I swallowed down the spoon in one bite and was wondering where the rest of the dish was because I could have eaten a full-size serving of the ceviche.  The flavors seemed to just burst in my mouth and it was the perfect beginning of what promised to be a terrific meal.

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Not surprisingly, my husband and I couldn’t seem to agree on one appetizer for our meal, so we each decided to pick one.  We figured we were hungry enough that we wouldn’t have any problems finishing our food.  For my choice, I ordered the pepper-crusted bigeye tuna.  Served with ginger, scallion and lime ponzu dip, I thought it sounded different and interesting.  Different from what I’d normally order at home and hey, if you’re going to try something new, why not do it while in vacation?  I knew that my husband was a fan of seared tuna and figured that if I ordered this dish he would at least help me finish it.  Truth be told, after a bite, I could have easily finished the dish on my own.  The pepper-crusted bigeye tuna was perfect seared on the outside and fresh and raw on the inside.  The pepper crust was flavorful and packed a punch.  The lime ponzu dipping sauce and the ginger were the perfect compliment to the pepper crusted tuna.  Each piece of tuna was a perfect two bite combination of tangy, citrusy and perfect fish.  A great, light, start to the meal.

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My husband saw smoked salmon on the menu and couldn’t resist ordering it for his appetizer.  Apple cider smoked salmon served with a dill cream cheese, to be exact.  Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of smoked salmon, but wow.  After one bite my husband insisted that I give the smoked salmon a try, and I am glad he insisted because it was the best smoked salmon I’ve ever had.  A drizzle of fresh lemon juice over the apple cider smoked salmon served with capers and diced red onion stacked on top of the perfectly grilled crostini and topped with the dill cream cheese was out of this world.  The smoked salmon was incredibly flavorful and tender and the dill cream cheese was the perfect pairing of flavors with the apple cider smoked salmon.  My husband and I both agreed that we could easily have finished off another plate of this appetizer.  Wow, this smoked salmon was out of this world.

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For an entrée, my husband again chose to go with a seafood dish, though I’m not surprised because my husband can hardly resist ordering sea bass when he sees it on the menu.  At the Shore Club, he ordered the herb-dusted sea bass.  The fish was baked and served atop of a bed of mixed beans along with an ancho-chili aioli.  To me, this preparation of the fish was wholly unique as the herb-dusting was put on the fish, seemingly after the filet had been baked to a white, flaky perfection.  Then a large dollop of ancho-chili aioli was set atop the filet.  My husband absolutely loved the sea bass and thought that the herb dusting and the aioli went well together.  The aioli had just enough heat in it to create a nice flavor profile for the fresh, tasty sea bass.

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For my entrée I went with the restaurant’s other specialty: steak.  I ordered the bone-in ribeye steak, medium rare.  This large, flavorful and tender bone-in ribeye was perfectly grilled with a nice char on the outside and a sear on the inside.  The bone-in helps add wonderful flavor to the steak.  But a steak’s a steak, kind of hard to mess it up unless you over cook it.  Nothing terrible about this particular steak, but nothing completely standout either.

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To go with our meal we ordered 3 side dishes.  The first was my choice of creamed corn.  Unfortunately, this creamed corn wasn’t really my favorite.  It tasted more like frozen corn mixed with a bit of cream, rather than fresh made creamed corn.  The corn kernels were kind of dry and overcooked and wasn’t all that tasty at all.

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My husband wanted to get the tempura-battered onion rings.  I’ve come to learn that my husband is a huge fan of onion rings and wants to order them whenever he gets a chance to.  I must say that the onion rings here at the Shore Club where one of the best onion rings I’ve ever had.  Not sure if it was due to the lighter, airier tempura batter or not, but the coating on the onions was perfect.  Perfectly cooked and perfectly flavored.  The onions inside were soft and tender, and the batter was crispy with just a hint of salt.

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Also, we debated getting a potato side dish as well, but after our waiter explained to us what the seasonal roasted potato for the evening was, we couldn’t resist ordering it.  Apparently, the seasonal potato was a Hasselback potato, something I’d never heard of before.  This is how the waiter described its preparation:  a whole potato brined with rosemary, the potato is then roasted with butter and cut into a bunch of thin slices that go almost all the way through the potato, each slice is then stuffed with cheese and then the whole potato is topped with a mixture of mayo cream cheese, bacon and green onions.  Ok, the mayo cream cheese threw me off a bit, but really how can you resist a potato that’s been brined, then roasted with butter, and then cut into slices stuffed with cheese and then topped with a cream cheese and added with bacon and green onions?  That sounded like a real winner to both myself and my husband and we just had to order a potato.  After one bite, my husband and I realized that this was the best potato we’d both ever had before in our lives – and that’s saying a lot since I’m a meat and potatoes kind of girl.  This Hasselback potato was out of this world.  It was crispy on the outside and fluffy and soft on the inside.  The best of both worlds, like having a potato chip and a baked potato at the same time.  The flavor of the bacon and the green onions and the cheese and the mayo cream cheese and, of course, the butter, was all so perfect.  It made for the most delicious, most mouthwatering potato dish ever.  My husband and I couldn’t get over how thin they’d sliced up the potato and the creaminess and saltiness from the cheese stuck between each individual slice of potato.  We both could have come to the  Shore Club and just ordered one of these potatoes for ourselves and walked out incredibly satisfied.

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Though dinner was a lot of food, and rather filing, we both decided that we couldn’t really pass up dessert.  After all, we’d traveled the redeye all night and had skipped any semblance of lunch.  Therefore, that was excuse enough that we could indulge a bit in dessert.  However, because we’d already consumed a lot of food, we decided to be good and just split a dessert between the two of us.  When we saw the banana split on the menu, we knew that’s what we’d order as we both have a soft spot for banana splits.  Ice cream, banana, chocolate sauce, pineapple chunks, strawberry sauce and some whipped cream, is there really a better way to end any meal?  Creamy, yummy vanilla ice cream with all the fixings hit the spot perfectly for us and between the two of us we devoured the banana split.

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Before we left for the evening our waiter, who discovered that we were tourists from California and questioned why we would ever want to come to Ottawa for a visit, left us each with a parting gift from the restaurant, a packed lemon and olive oil muffin as a breakfast treat in the morning.  And sure enough, I did enjoy this muffin for breakfast the next morning and it was perfect.  The combination of the citrus from the lemon and the silkiness from the olive oil was perfect.  A terrific way to start the morning and just a reminder of the great meal we had at the Shore Club the night before.

Whenever you travel out-of-town and you end up eating at a hotel restaurant, you never really know what you’re going to get.  Most of the time, you get overpriced food.  But, every now and then, you get a real winner.  A quality restaurant serving amazing food with great service that just happens to be attached to a hotel.  The Shore Club is an amazing restaurant specializing in steak and seafood.  The smoked salmon appetizer was the best smoked salmon ever and the seared bigeye tuna was no slouch either.  The Hasselback potatoes were amazing and finishing up our meal with a simple banana split was terrific.  And the little take home treat of the lemon and olive oil muffin was really icing on the cake.  I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to dine at the Shore Club again if I ever find myself in Canada’s capital city.

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