Not far from Elgin Street’s culinary free-for-all, lies The Glebe (or, Westboro’s poorer cousin). In the last few years, this affluent community has seen a number of significant changes. The most notable being the opening of TD Place in the summer of 2014 which, to the ire of the Glebe faithful, ushered in a bevy of sleek corporate restaurants.
But what about the old guard? Restaurants that supposedly thrived before corporate giants like Jack Astor’s and Milestones stormed the neighborhood? Well, despite the turnover, many still exist. Some have survived by wallowing in their well-worn, albeit dated, practices. While others have continued to thrive by adapting to modern trends and carving out original niches. For the sake of entertainment, let’s have a look at the wallowing dinosaurs.
With the smug motto, “Stop Telling Your Friends,” Irene’s has been the premier local hub for aging hipsters since 1985. If you need proof, try going for a pint on any given weekday where you’ll be forced to pay an obnoxious cover charge (usually somewhere between $15 and $20) to see your friend’s dad relive old glories in his D-grade blues band.
Luckily, for those looking to avoid this trip down someone else’s memory lane, I suggest visiting Irene’s during the afternoon and scooping up a seat on the secluded back patio. There you can enjoy the (mostly) home-made pub fare and the (mostly) local draught beers on tap. But be warned, when you hear the first note of a 12-bar scale through the PA system, pay your bill and run.
The Arrow & Loon
The Arrow & Loon never fails to leave an impression on all who enter. This is partly attributed to their notoriously shoddy service—Flags immediately go up when your website states that your staff are “well familiar with every menu item and our bar selections as well.” (Well done!) Not to mention the beer menu that looks like a table of contents I could have designed myself in 1996. But, let’s be honest, these are common complaints for any out-of-date restaurant.
The real kicker is the bizarre back “patio” situated in the Fifth Avenue Court: a near-deserted shopping center in the heart of the Glebe. While this business decision is not uncommon (the now-defunct Elephant & Castle had a similar layout in the Rideau Centre years ago), what is uncommon is the Arrow & Loon’s decision to leave the back “patio” open long after the mall’s closing, giving unsuspecting bar patrons the most uncomfortably eerie patio experience Ottawa has to offer. Extinction has never taken so long…
Joe Fitzgerald is a Professional Writing student at Algonquin College, a waiter, an annoying music know-it-all, and a friend. He currently resides in Ottawa's restaurant-heavy Centretown district, where he plunders half his paycheques and wonders almost every morning where the heck he left his sunglasses the night before. His favourite Backstreet Boy is Brian.