It’s a brand-new take on an old college mainstay.
The pub crawl, also known as those boozy nights you can’t really remember, has been reclaimed by the adventurous people behind Dishcrawl.
The concept is simple: Forty diners, four hours, four restaurants. And the catch? You only know the first place ahead of time. The rest are a delicious surprise.
The latest installment in the Dishcrawl Ottawa franchise was held in the Byward Market and it began at Moji Italian Bistro.
The tiny place on Clarence Street was made even smaller by almost 40 crawlers packed in like sardines. The first course was a marinated apple and beet slaw with spiced corn seeds and red onions. The dish was the perfect balance of velvety sweetness from the dressing with a punch of acidity from the marinade. The corn seeds added a crispy crunch and a bit of an Eastern-inspired flavour to the dish.
Next up was a tomato balsamic soup that was decadently creamy and thick. Similar to the slaw, there was a bit of an Indian flavour to it, and it tasted almost like a butter chicken sauce. The added heat was an unexpected pairing with the classic Italian flavours of tomato and balsamic vinegar, but worked wonderfully.
The last course was a shrimp crostini with a spec-infused cream sauce, which I practically inhaled, it was that good. The sauce was buttery and rich and the shrimp was cooked to perfection.
For those who were craving a little more meat (sorry, vegetarians!), The Smoque Shack was the perfect second stop. The crowd of still-ravenous diners cheered when the meal was finally revealed: pulled pork and brisket sliders, with a side of coleslaw. Although Moji’s time-intensive slaw could not be beat, the Smoque Shack’s creamier version was the quintessential choice for barbecue. I preferred the brisket with its smoky coffee-infused sauce, but both options satisfied my craving for something a little less delicate.
Speaking of delicate, the meal at Side Door, a pork belly taco with beef tartar on a cucumber slice, was almost microscopic in comparison, but was also a nice come-down from the carb and meat fest that was Smoque Shack. The beef tartar had a lovely, almost citrusy flavour thanks to some ginger and cilantro, and the subtle cucumber helped meld it all together. The taco had a strong hit of parsley and a lovely thin crispy shell, and was also the cleanest taco I have ever eaten thanks to its bite-size proportions.
And just like a good pub crawl isn’t complete without a safe cab ride home, a good Dishcrawl just isn’t complete without a dessert. Luckily the last stop, the Black Tomato, definitely delivered. Diners were offered a choice between three different options, which included a chocolate pecan pie and a mango strawberry cobbler. I went with the cobbler, which had a coffee whipped cream that added the right amount of bitter to balance the pie’s sweet fruit filling and buttery crumble crust.
While I might have waddled home rather than walked, this foodie did so with a smile on her face and four new restaurants on her radar. All in all, it was a successful