Glebe Central Pub
Address: 779 Bank St, Ottawa
Hours: 11am – 10pm daily (may vary during/after pandemic)
With the influx of chain restaurants into the Glebe in the past few years, when you hear that a restaurant is up for sale, it can make you worry. Luckily, when neighbourhood pub Pints and Quarts (Ps and Qs, as in “Mind your…”) went on the market last year, a couple locals took it over and rebranded as Glebe Central Pub.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stop by the GCP before the pandemic hit to see how the interior looks now, as I loved the nooks and crannies that Ps and Qs managed to have in a relatively small footprint. My first visit ended up being on a surprisingly warm, late-November day, with my wife and I stopping in for a bite after a failed shot at getting into the very busy Lansdowne farmers market.
Their menu is currently available on a handy QR code, a feature that would fit in nicely at a lot of restaurants after the pandemic ends. There’s a lot of the usual pub staples – burgers, wraps and deep fryer fare – but there are also items like pot stickers, waffle fries, and pork belly frits that show a bit more of a creative edge. While not going full gastropub, they’re putting in more effort here than many of the big names in local pubs.
Since the appetizers and sides piqued our interest the most, we decided to piece a few of those together into a full meal. The Scotch egg ($8) was a must for me, while my wife chose the pork belly frits ($12). I rolled the dice on a full order of the waffle fries ($10.50), and we rounded things out with some vegetables in the form of the pub side salad ($8).
The gingery bite of my dark and stormy held me over during our short, leisurely wait in the fall sun.
A great Scotch egg is the ultimate bar food – packed full of protein to help you keep an even keel, and a crisp, salty breading for that comforting decadence. Glebe Central Pub takes things up a notch with a topping of pickled onions and a maple mustard sauce. I’m not too big on Dijon, as I find that its potent flavour can take over the show, and that was the case here, where it would have been better relegated to the side. It was hard to tell exactly how well-done the egg was because of the slathering of mustard, and I wasn’t particularly impressed with the breading on the exterior.
The waffle fries were the cross-cut stars of the meal. I’d guess that they make these in house, as I’ve never had a waffle fry so crisp! They’re a fun concept that I’ve been sold on since seeing McCain’s commercials in my childhood, but they’re almost always soggy and disappointing. Not GCP’s! Crispy to the last fry, this generous basket o’ carbs will cure any fried food craving.
The side salad was pretty much what you’d expect – spinach, cucumber, diced tomatoes and red onion, with a balsamic vinaigrette. Well presented, and with fresh veg, it was a healthy counterpoint to a meal that was otherwise a slap in the face to the Canada Food Guide.
I thought the pork belly frits were a neat concept – thick strips of pork belly fried in a beer batter and served with coleslaw and a surprisingly large cup of the maple mustard sauce from above. I enjoyed the toothsome texture of the pork, which was par cooked before frying. The batter was wonderfully crisp, with lots of bumps and ridges for texture. The pool of mustard went largely unused, and even people that love the stuff would be hard pressed to use it all. A smaller ramekin would help the margins of this dish.
While not quite a home run, Glebe Central Pub continues its predecessor’s efforts at better-than-average pub food, and indeed raises the bar higher. I’m looking forward to a time when indoor dining feels like a more responsible and safe choice, and I can relax in GCP’s space with a few pints and some tasty bites.