Dine like a Maharaja at the East India Company

The East India Company (EIC) is my favourite Indian restaurant in Ottawa. I have been frequenting their Somerset location (they also have a location in Bells Corners) for over 10 years. I have dined at this restaurant multiple times but it wasn’t until I was invited to try out their new Thali menu that I truly gained an appreciation for everything it has to offer.

The History

The East India Company restaurants were founded by Kamal and Sudha Mehra. The Mehras migrated to Canada in the 1970’s and opened their first restaurant Mehra’s Delicatessen in Wippineg, Manitoba. They then went on to open India Gardens, Winnipeg’s first North Indian restaurant. The East India Company restaurants came about when the Mehras decided to expand their business in 1994 and opened another restaurant in Winnipeg. Today the East India Company has two locations in Ottawa and one location in Winnipeg. The restaurants are now run by Kamal and Sudha’s children; Sachit, Anish, Divya and Nitin.

The Ambiance

The Mehras pride themselves on filling their restaurants with carefully curated pieces of art and antiques from India.  As you walk in to Somerset location you can’t help but notice the large mandap at the front of the restaurant. A mandap is a covered four pillared structure typically used for Hindu and Jain weddings. This particular mandap is 350 years old and was originally placed at a temple in India. Following the mandap you come across a Palki or palanquin, which is the oldest piece in the restaurant. The palanquin was used to transport brides on their wedding day and is around 400 years old. As you move towards the back of the restaurant you will find marble pieces including a marble window frame which is around 200 years old. Carved marble blocks with designs composed of semi-precious stones such as sapphires, emeralds and rubies also adorn the bar at the back of the restaurant. You really feel like you are in a museum as you dine at this location.

What restaurant isn’t complete without music right? Well you can listen to some of your favourite Bollywood tunes while you enjoy a meal at the East India Company.

The Food

Now the part that everyone’s been waiting for, the food! The food at EIC has always been fantastic, whether you’re at the buffet or dining a la carte you are guaranteed to leave this place feeling like a king. EIC is famous for their lunch and dinner buffets and a reservation is highly recommended. In order to keep up with the changing rules and restrictions on indoor dining during the COVID19 pandemic EIC now offers you the best of both worlds with their Thali menu.

The Thali

A thali is a meal that consists of multiple dishes in small portions, it is typically served on a round platter called a Thali. EIC offers two choices of Thali. The New Delhi Thali which offers you the choice four entrees and the Mumbai Thali which offers you a choice of 3 entrees. Both thalis come with basmati rice, papadum, salad, a samosa, and gulab jamun for dessert.

I chose the Mumbai Thali with Shrimp Curry, Chili Chicken and Navratan for my entrees. You can view the full Thali menu below which features some of the buffet favourites as entree choices:

In addition to their food the East India Company also offers a selection of wine, beer and their signature cocktails. I tried Mehra’s Special which is a tropical, fruity rum based cocktail. It was really refreshing and not overly strong. Sashien had the Kala Ice which is a stronger drink incorporating Irish whiskey, Black label and Kahlua. The cocktail menu also features liquor from local suppliers such as Dillon’s Gin and Top Shelf Vodka.

The Verdict

Both Sashien and I really enjoyed our dinner at the East India Company. I highly recommend checking out the new Thali menu. Don’t be fooled by the small portions of curries the thalis are very filling, in fact we ended up taking some food home with us. I’ve always enjoyed the food at the East India Company and this menu is no exception. If indoor dining isn’t your thing just yet you can always sit out on their patio where tables are placed a generous distance apart. It should also be noted that all COVID-19 safety measures are strictly followed at the restaurants. All staff wear masks and hand sanitizer is placed on each table. Physical distancing is also in place. You can also order a la carte at the restaurants or place a takeout order.  If you live in Ottawa and haven’t dined at the East India Company I suggest adding it to your list of must do’s in the city.

 

 

 

Ladurée Yorkdale

This past weekend I was in Toronto and I got to check out one of my favourite places, Ladurée. Famous the world over for its Parisian flair Ladurée is a macaroon shop and tea room. Although it’s especially popular in Europe the company has made the trip across the pond and I’m thrilled that there’s one in somewhat close proximity to me. I simply love their macaroons and decor. To me this place is like every little girl’s dream – soft colours line the walls which are topped off by an elegantly carved out ceiling and of course there is the iconic green on the facade of the shop. Whether you’re stepping in for a peek or staying for tea Ladurée is a must do if you’re ever in Toronto! The Yorkdale shopping centre itself is quite glamorous in my opinion so it’s a perfect setting for this cute little macaroon shop.

As far as flavours go my personal favourites are the pistachio, coffee and vanilla. I also tried the rose flavour which I was quite surprised by. Ladurée offers a wide range of flavours to choose from and there’s really something for everyone 🙂 The shop also has a cute selection of gifts and souvenirs so if sweets aren’t your thing you can always grab a key chain, candle or gift box 😉

 

 

Holiday High Tea at Chateau Laurier

I’ve been a tea drinker ever since I can remember and high tea is something I really enjoy. Attending the Holiday High Tea at the Chateau Laurier hotel in Ottawa has become somewhat of a tradition for me. Even though I moved to Canada from Sri Lanka when I was just 5 years old, my family doesn’t have a lot of relatives here in Ottawa so we’ve kind of had to make our own Christmas traditions. The Chateau Laurier offers a lot of great dining events around the holiday season including a Christmas dinner in the ballroom. My favourite event however is their Holiday High Tea.

High Tea at the Chateau Laurier is hosted at Zoe’s Lounge. The restaurant recently went through a major renovation and I highly recommend checking out their new look. The tea menus change according to the season and although High Tea is offered throughout the year the Holiday edition is especially popular. You can find their holiday menu here. Typically the menu consists of some savoury sandwiches, scones with Devonshire cream and strawberry jam and some desserts served on a 3 tier platter.

There is usually a wide selection of tea to choose from and a tea sommelier to guide you through the options. I normally choose the traditional English Breakfast tea but this time I decided to change things up and try the Ice Wine flavoured tea – it was a welcome surprise. The ice wine added a fruity flavour to the tea which was quite light. The nice thing about the teas is that you can determine how strong or weak you want the tea to be depending on how long you steep it. The staff at Zoe’s even give you a handy tea timer so you can perfect your tea to your liking.

In addition to the finger food and tea selection Zoe’s also offers some holiday inspired cocktails. I tried the Kir Under The Mistletoe, a Christmas spin on the traditional Kir Royal which just happens to be my favourite cocktail. I loved this cocktail and would recommend it to anyone who likes Champagne or Prosecco. It was a perfect blend of fruity and sweet.

Many people ask me what I wear to High Tea and my honest answer is it depends. In the Summer I usually wear a dress with a matching fascinator. This time however I opted for pants and a top since my reservation was for 4:15 and the sun usually sets around 4:30 in the Winter in Canada. I found this fabulous statement sleeve top at Suzy Shier. This top honestly looks like a haute couture piece with its organza sleeves and medallion embroidered hem across the bottom. I paired the top with these jacquard print pants which I picked up at Le Chateau a few years ago. You can still find them at their outlets 🙂

If you ever plan on going to High Tea at the Chateau I highly recommend making a reservation in advance as space is limited and it tends to sell out soon. The same goes for their other Christmas dining events. The best way to avoid disappointment is to book early so if you’re in Ottawa and looking for something special to do this holiday season check out the Chateau Laurier and don’t forget to walk around the hotel to take a look at their Trees of Hope display 🙂

 

Beats + Brunch at Andaz Ottawa

Brunch is one of my favourite things to do on the weekend 🙂  Beats + Brunch is the trendiest brunch event in Ottawa at the moment. Held at the Rooftbar Bar – Copper Spirits and Sights atop the Andaz Hotel, the event takes places on the last Sunday of every month. Seats are hard to come by as the event is always sold out but I was fortunate to make in for the August and September editions.  Beats + Brunch is a buffet style brunch with appetizers brought to your table. $40 plus taxes gets you access to the buffet, appetizers, tea/coffee and a glass of bubbly. You can take in views of the Byward Market and Parliament while you eat as this brunch offers indoor and outdoor seating on the 16th floor of the hotel. I highly recommend making a reservation far in advance to avoid disappointment. It’s also a good idea to check in with the staff at Andaz and confirm your reservation.