Address: 150 Slater St, Ottawa, ON
Hours: 11:30am – 2pm (Mon – Fri)
Green factor: Compostable container, plastic utensils; no disposal bins on site when I was there
While the food truck industry is mainly a seasonal one in Ottawa, one of the few non-chip wagon trucks that toughs it out through the winter is seafood-slinger Ad Mare.
I visited this massive truck at their usual location on Slater and O’Connor, coming by just after the lunch rush. Their daily menu can vary with the availability of a given sea creature, and there were a handful of options on my arrival.
While the clam chowder ($5/7/9 for a S/M/L) would have been good to warm me up against the cool fall wind that day, I saw that they had a couple of taco options, and that was that. I inquired and was able to mix and match the fish and shrimp tacos in one platter ($13, taxes in). The guy working the window must have plenty of cold weather experience at the truck, as he suggested that I wait in the lobby of the nearby office building and he would wave me down when the food was ready.
After seeing the wave from the big blue truck and grabbing my food, I ended up ducking back inside the office building’s lobby to chow down, since I had specifically come downtown to eat at Ad Mare.
The fish taco was comprised of cod braised in a honey chipotle sauce, plus guacamole, salsa, roasted corn, lettuce, and a chipotle mayo, all in a fresh corn tortilla. I enjoyed the deep chipotle flavour with the cod, which itself was flavourful, firm and tender. All the other toppings melded together in a hot mess; the composition could use some tweaking for more texture and less dripping. I’m a big fan of corn tortillas, and I would have liked to see these spend longer on the grill to really bring out their full flavour.
The second taco of the duo had the same toppings, with only the protein changing. A few plump, perfectly-cooked, grilled shrimp were finished in a lime and chipotle sauce, and I appreciated the better balance brought to the table by the citrusy tang.
My platter came with two options for sides: Ad Mare’s signature sweet potato and beet chips, or a salad. Luckily, I was able to get the best of both worlds and went half and half (no additional charge). The chips are bright, tasty and impressively crisp for being house-made. The salad was fairly basic – lettuce, cucumber, grape tomatoes, and a balsamic vinaigrette – but the veggies were fresh and did their job – making me feel better about myself and my choices in food.
I made a second visit this winter to try out their rotating po’ boy sandwich, whose availability I had confirmed on their Twitter account. On this day it was their scallop po’ boy on offer, dressed with coleslaw and remoulade, and paired with the aforementioned beet chips and salad for $13.
After going through the order, wait in lobby, pick up food, settle-down-in-the-lobby-to-eat cycle again (thanks, EDC office!), I was all set to see what Ad Mare’s take on this Louisianan sandwich was like.
The plentiful scallops had a moderate amount of a nice crispy batter, while the remoulade added a hint of spice to the sandwich. Being deep fried rather than seared quickly on each side meant that the scallops weren’t buttery soft, but nor were any tough.
I would have preferred a crustier type of roll to be more in line with a traditional po’ boy, but it was still lightly toasted and held up well. More slaw for more crunch would have been nice, but a big ol’ sandwich of deep fried scallops isn’t such a bad thing.
All told, the sandwich was good, but could easily go to the next level with some minor tweaks to the composition.
That Ad Mare brings accessible and affordable seafood to downtown Ottawa is commendable unto itself. That they do it year-round and with a bit of flair deserves an extra tip of the cap.