If you’re looking for a fun, delectable night out in Ottawa with friends, family or even co-workers, look no further than Ottawa Tasting Tours.
Coming up on its one-year anniversary, this local company opened last July to offer contemporary and fine dining culinary tours of Ottawa’s historic ByWard Market neighbourhood. On one of these tours, you’ll get to discover some of the best culinary gems downtown Ottawa has to offer.
According to Corey Henry, owner of Ottawa Tasting Tours, his idea for this new walking tour company came to him when he was on a getaway trip to Lake Placid, NY. In an interview with Ottawa Tourism, Henry said that while in Lake Placid, he and his girlfriend were looking for a unique culinary experience, but all they could find were pub crawls. “So we kind of had the idea to feature fine dining or contemporary food,” Henry said. “We thought that Ottawa’s ByWard Market would be the perfect spot for something like this.”
He added that this particular Ottawa area is ideal, as the ByWard Market is walkable and is also home to many great restaurants. “We thought that the ByWard Market would be a great place to start with the eclectic culture and all of the great restaurants that are around,” he said.
Henry noted that what Ottawa Tasting Tours offers is a “progressive dinner” experience, meaning that tour participants get to experience a four-course meal that is split amongst four different restaurants. “Each course is served at a different location and it’s paired with a three-ounce glass of wine,” Henry said. He added that at each location, guests learn about food and wine pairing as well as about the restaurant’s history. Henry said further that the ByWard Market tour also focuses on local Ottawa restaurants that can’t be found anywhere else.
According to Henry, what makes Ottawa Tasting Tours unique is that the experience focuses on higher quality restaurants and higher quality food. “It’s not your average deep fried chicken wings or pickles or something like that,” he said.
On my personal Ottawa Tasting Tours experience – among other stops – we went to Must Kitchen & Wine Bar on William Street. Here, we enjoyed wine paired with a delicious warm fig, goat cheese, prosciutto and balsamic glaze creation. You should definitely try it for yourself!
“It’s a little higher end,” said Henry of the food offered on the tour. Also, Henry noted, as the tour makes its way from one location to another, guests learn about the history of the ByWard Market itself; one of the oldest and one of the largest farmers’ markets in Canada. Along the way, interesting buildings and landmarks are pointed out.
Currently, the two to three-hour Ottawa Tasting Tours experience is available in the ByWard Market neighbourhood year-round. But in the interview, Henry noted that the company has plans to expand its walking tour offerings. He told Ottawa Tourism that a cultural culinary tour as well as a multi-neighbourhood tour are in the works. “It’s kind of a new idea that we’re playing around with because there are so many different cultures in Ottawa,” he said, adding the company is also looking to organize a tour along Preston Street in Ottawa’s Little Italy neighbourhood.
In one year, Henry said, the small local business has doubled its sales in the year’s first few months and it continues to grow “slowly but steadily.” “We do a lot of bachelorettes and we’re trying to focus on some corporate events as well,” Henry said.