Inspired by an article in the Ottawa Magazine, Art Is In Boulangerie easily made it on to the bucket list when I saw the mouth watering photo of their eggs benedict. The fact that they have a huge reputation in Ottawa for amazing lunch sandwiches, perfectly baked artisanal breads and delectable “killer cookies” completely eluded me!
Owner and baker Kevin Mathieson has infused his total commitment and drive to elevate the art of bread making in the Ottawa food scene. He has learned and worked in some of the best bakeries in the world including Ladurée, a shop famous for its magnificent jewel-toned macarons, the Patisserie Canet boutique in Monaco and Steiner bakery in Zurich, Switzerland.
Commitment to excellence is evident when you sample their bread. Their website states that they have made the following commitments to their craft: 1. Only pure ingredients 2. Take time to do it right – time is flavour 3. Never a dry moment 4. The power of touch – hand made breads. The commitment is demonstrated in the flavour. The bread is something you have to try to taste the difference. You can get their breads around town, but I do recommend popping in for breakfast…the smells of array of fresh baked bread from the moment you walk in the door is worth it!
I never would have found Art Is In on my own. They are tucked into an industrial warehouse site just off Scott St, between the ever expanding foodie destination of Hintonburg and Little Italy’s Preston St. We rolled into the boulangerie just after 9am on a Sunday morning. All ready the place was getting busy. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. The bakery/restaurant has a real industrial feel (double checking the website reminded me that this was in fact the case!). The smell of fresh baked breads on the racks was heady. The aroma of fresh baked breads took me back to vacations in France where we often would pick up fresh baguettes from the local boulangerie. As in France, the colourful array of macaroons in the display case begged for my attention, but I was quickly distracted as we checked the menu and placed our orders. So much to choose from, but my heart was set on the eggs benedict – there would be no straying from the plan!
As we sat down, the crowds started to appear. It got busy in an instant – we were lucky to have beaten the rush as tables filled and the orders flew in. I was surprised by how quickly my plate arrived. My friends waited a little longer for their Grilled Cheese Sloppy Joes to arrive, but I couldn’t wait. I dug into the eggs benny, cooked to perfection, and oh, that hollandaise sauce. It looked super rich and I was a little worried. I have had hollandaise sauces at many restaurants where they were too heavy and overpowering, but this sauce melted in my mouth. It had perfect balance. Not too rich with the right hint of lemon. Perfect. My only complaint – my dish was luke warm. The flavours were amazing so it was easy to over look that fact. The grated potatoes were good, although I struggle to remember them after the eggs. My eggs benny exceeded expectations and stole the show.
I will clearly have to come back to sample the lunch menu. Rumour has it that they experience a crazy lunch rush on a daily basis with upwards of 600 people served daily! I have heard that they post their daily specials on their face book page too. There is a loyal following.
Don’t forget to pick up a loaf of bread before you leave. I grabbed a dill, potato and caramelized onion loaf. Absolutely delish. There is a huge range of bread to choose from…I recommend checking out the bakery shelf and seeing what speaks to you. The cranberry and nine grains was looking pretty good as well…I see a return visit.
Earlier this year, I put together a list of restaurants that formed the Ottawa Restaurant Bucket List – an opportunity to eat my way through some of the newer foodie destinations in town and a couple classics that I have yet to try! Art Is In is my first review from the list.
I’d love to hear from you. Have you been? What are your tips? Add your favourite Art Is In goodies in the comments below.