Experience the Happiest of Hours at Grounded Cafe and Kitchen

If there is one thing in the culinary industry that is a universal language, it’s a good happy hour. Using downtime as a restaurant to push deals and specials to invite guests to come in and fill the lulls has been a tool in the industry for as long as anyone can remember. Not only does it give people an opportunity to save a few bucks, but it gets new guests through the doors for a little taste of what you have to offer, with the ultimate goal of bringing them back during peak hours.

That’s exactly what happened during my first experience at Grounded Cafe and Kitchen on Gloucester Street in Centretown.

While scrolling through my Instagram feed, I saw an ad for Grounded’s happy hour menu and was blown away at the variety, not to mention how elevated it is for a happy hour menu.

When my partner and I walked through the front doors, I was blown away a second time by the restaurant’s aesthetic. Large canvases by local artists give the dining room a modern and sleek look. From colour profiles of famous rappers to a giant mural of a bear that appears to be straight out of a Stephen King novel, this was some of the most unique artwork I’ve seen in a restaurant in the city.

We sat down with the menu that we were by now familiar with, but upon flipping to the backside, we were pleasantly surprised to see a selection of happy hour drinks on menu as well!

The drink deal that stuck out to me was their rotating cocktail on tap! This ever-changing feature cocktail is ready at the pull of a handle and for only $5! We were fortunate to experience the passion fruit mojito, a simple yet refreshing cocktail this time. It is a little sweet from the passionfruit and herbaceous from the mint, with a light, easy-to-drink body—the perfect cocktail for an afternoon beverage.

Now, let’s move on to the food, cuz’ that’s what we’re here for.

Deciding what to order was truly the hardest part because everything sounded delicious. Ultimately, here’s what we decided on:


Daisy Bay Oysters – $2 per oyster

People who know me well know my last meal on earth would include at least 40 oysters. I LOVE oysters, and I know a lot about them. Daisy Bays are a classic PEI oyster. That is to say, medium in size (around 3”), briny, and about as classic as you can get when you consider East Coast oysters. They’re less sweet than their New Brunswick or Nova Scotian cousins, and they are meatier as well. As far as value goes, $2 an oyster is a really great option. We ordered 6 of them, which came served with a house-made apple mignonette, a house-made hot sauce, and, for those of you who are bold, a vinegar bottle filled with Jameson whisky.

The oysters were fresh and delicious, and they paired great with the tart apples. The hot sauce was vinegar-based and balanced. It had a great flavour with heat that didn’t overwhelm the flavour of the oyster itself. The Jameson Whiskey—well, that was just Jameson Whiskey. I prefer it in a shot glass more than in my oyster, but it provided a great use for the empty shells!


Disco Fries – $9

The “Disco Fries” live up to their name because they boast a classic pairing of flavours that result in a party in your mouth (sans roller skates). The crispy fries are coated in what the chef calls “everything rub” after being tossed in garlic oil. The fries are then topped with chopped herbs, a mountain of fresh parm, and served with a beautifully creamy garlic mayo.

These french fries are addictive: crisp on the outside, pillowy on the inside, and truly a flavour bomb! I highly recommend giving them a go when you’re feeling snacky for something familiar with a twist.


Whipped Feta and Bread- $9 (!!!)

I’m not sure how they can afford to sell this dish at this price, but I would pay that twice for this bowl of heaven. The feta cheese is whipped into the consistency of a thick sauce, like something you would pour over a protein. It clings to whatever you dip into it but is runny enough to pour or drizzle. This base is then topped with an outrageous but welcomed amount of confit garlic, enough to keep Dracula away for the month, charred cherry tomatoes, a variety of nuts, fresh mint, and extra virgin olive oil, and is served with a Za’atar spiced crispy naan.

This dish is all about balance. The whipped feta is topped with intent, which effectively creates that balance! The tomatoes provide an acidic char to cut through all the fat and salt, and the variety of nuts gives texture to the dish and an earthy flavour. The mint is, of course, fresh and herbaceous, and the EVOO creates a full finish that coats your mouth. The confit garlic, in my opinion, is the star of the show. When you cook garlic low and slow, it brings out the natural sweetness and cuts the harsh raw garlic flavour almost completely.

Crispy naan is the perfect vessel for this Mediterranean-meets-Middle Eastern-inspired dish, and the addition of Za’atar spice—a savoury blend of spices from these regions like oregano, marjoram, and cumin—creates an experience that transports diners firmly to that central part of the map.


Crispy Brussels Sprouts – $9

This was our final choice on their happy hour menu, although the halloumi and tuna tartare were also tempting and another winner.

Brussels sprouts are one of my favourite vegetables, and long gone are the days of the sad-boiled Brussels that gave these little green cabbages a bad reputation on dinner tables across North America. Crisping up your Brussels sprouts via a deep fryer like in this dish or the oven is a surefire way to make even the fussiest of diners enjoy their greens. But what you add to your crisp little buddies is what can take a good vegetable and make it a great dish. This dish acted as a warm salad of sorts, implementing things like red cabbage, balsamic vinegar, toasted seeds, parmesan, and lemon to round out the taste bud experience it provides.

Like with any salad, high-quality ingredients make all the difference. The chef spared no expense when selecting a balsamic to finish this dish with. Aurelius is a high-end olive oil and balsamic vinegar producer that is local to Ottawa, and the addition of one of their many vinegars here was a conscious choice in elevating this dish. Accenting this star with things like salty/nutty parm, seeds for texture, cabbage for body, and lemon to finish shows that this chef understands flavour, composition, and most importantly, CARE for the ingredients!

Every city with culinary street cred needs good happy hour options, and Grounded is cementing itself firmly near the top!

Grounded offers these happy hour specials from 3 to 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. until closing time, Monday through Saturday.

We can all afford to save a few dollars nowadays, but a visit to Grounded means there is no need to sacrifice quality. Next time you and your friends have the “Where should we grab a bite that won’t break the bank?” conversation, check out Grounded Cafe and Kitchen’s Centretown location.

Find Grounded Cafe and Kitchen at 100 Gloucester Street or online at groundedkitchencoffee.com.