Ottawa Donair Quest: Zydeco Smokeshack
Address: 25 Hamilton St, Ottawa
Hours: 11am – 2pm (M-W), 11am – 6pm (F), 12 – 6pm (Sat – Sun) (at time of writing, varies seasonally)
Earlier this year, Zydeco Smokeshack opened in the food hut on Hamilton at Wellington, in the space formerly occupied by Yakko Takko. This slinger of smoked meats and southern comfort food really caught my eye when I saw that they do a weekly donair special. And not just a generic donair, a Halifax donair. I had to put them to the test.
Speaking with the owner while I ordered, I learned that they had a spot in Little Italy several years ago, and have now returned to bring meaty goodness to the masses. The donair recipe is from an east coaster friend of his, and he has added his own touch by smoking the donair loaves!
During this excursion I was going to be doing some other food research for the blog, so I stuck to just the donair ($8 then, but now $10 for the daily specials).
The meat is done as a loaf and the texture was more loose and crumbly versus the typical, densely-packed, vertical-spit-roasted donair. Despite the more laissez-faire approach, the meat was nice and moist, although its smoking didn’t really come through.
The flavour profile of the meat was that of a proper, east coast-style donair, with more spice than some back in Halifax, although the earthy, herby flavours took the back seat.
I enjoyed the thick and puffy, “New York-style” pita, which while different than the Lebanese ones used back home, handles the donair sauce quite well, and the char marks from the grill added further layers of flavour.
And speaking of the sauce, it was a proper donair sauce, not whatever the mysterious and disappointing “sweet sauce” is that pizza and shawarma places in Ottawa put on their so-called donairs.
Further toppings appropriately default to diced onions and tomato only – no lettuce or pickled veg here!
I’m glad to see another business in Hintonburg/Wellington West join the donair fray, and while it’s not an exact replica, the donair at Zydeco Smokeshack is a solid lunch fix for any Maritimers looking for a taste of home.
PS. Keep an eye on their Facebook account for their weekly specials list.