The revival of La Station

Jul 24, 2008

In 1995, in an old Red Lobster that went under, opened an old-style, old-fashionned deli-bar.

La Station became an institution in Hull, specializing in smoked meat and other delicatessen delicacy. It quickly became a popular hang-out, especially for the twentysomething and thirtysomething crowd, but not exclusively.  It wasn’t rare to see a 20 mins line-up at breakfast time during the week-end.  And, for the party-goers and the bar-closers crowd, the place was open 24 hours from Thursdays to Saturdays, the only restaurant doing so in Hull.  The place was also hosting different community events for charity purposes, such as “Le déjeuner du Commandant”, where SQ officers served breakfast to raise money for La Fondation Québécoise du Cancer.

But it all went up in smoke on the 5th of February 2007 as a fire destroy the place.  The owners, who also own La Cage aux Sports in Hull and Georges Lounge and Grill , a trendy steakhouse in the old Au Coq building, promised to re-open quickly.  They did so in the fall, with a bigger building, a 100 more seats and a new wood oven.

Yesterday was my second visit to the new Station.  I had been disapointed by my first visit after the re-opening, but I decided to give it another try because I did enjoy the old Station very much.

So I went yesterday with my lady and another lady friend for a late night dinner.  And, again, the old Station I remember so fondly is long gone.  The ambiance used to be quite warm and friendly, with all kind of old school memorabilia, signs, posters, items of all kinds hanging around, giving it a very cool retro look and feel.  All gone. The fire is to blame of course, but the owners could have found some items to decorate.  Instead of the good old deli feel we had back then, we now walk in a cold and very noisy place without a soul.  No need to believe me – here is how our young waitress described the new place: “It’s like working in a big cafeteria!” she said.  No kidding.  You are drowned by loud hip-hop music and the very high ceiling and open-space concept does carry people’s conversations and kitchen noises.  And the crowd is now much younger then it used to be.  Or is it me that is getting much older?

Anyway, now about the food.  I ordered the deli club sandwich, a thick serving of their delicious smoked meat, topped with crispy bacon, cheese, tomatoes and lettuce.  It’s a nice twist of an old classic, and I added some dijon mustard to complete it.  It was very filling, to say the least.  It came with french fries, the battered and breaded kind which were alright, and with a side of a very boring and watery coleslaw.

My partners in crime last night went for simpler items – neither were disapointed.  The all-dressed pizza was very tasty, with a zippy tomato sauce and fresh toppings.  Cooked in the oven wood, it had a fabulous crispiness.   The italian poutine was a very filling serving of their fries, topped with their thick and meaty spaghetti sauce and fresh cheese curds.  The sauce could have been warmer to help the melting of the cheese, but it was still very well done.

With a pitcher of beer, we chipped in about 20$ each.  Not bad, but I sorely miss the old Station.


La Station on Urbanspoon

Go Rapidz!!

Is there anything better then a hot dog and a cold beer at a ballpark?Well, yes, there is.

But nevertheless, it is pretty fantastic!!!

Yesterday, I brought a bunch of friends to a game of the Can-Am league between the Ottawa Rapidz and the Atlantic City Surf at the Rapidz Stadium on Coventry Road in Ottawa.  It was the Guns N’ Hoses night – in honour of cops and firefighters, and only 1500 fans showed up – probably scared away by the afternoon shower.

The menu has quite improved since the Lynx left town for LeHigh Valley in Pennsylvania.  And the beer is cheaper, 4.50$ a glass.  The beer is even cheaper  the inning following a homerun by a Rapid – it goes half price!  In our case, oufielder Pete Pirman hit his fourth of the year in the fourth inning so we could enjoy a few cold ones for a few less dollars.  Their beer selection is not huge – your pick of Budweiser, Bud Light or Keith’s – so Keith’s it had to be.And to accompany your cold Keith’s, nothing better than a hot dog.   The Rapidz are calling their dog the Forum Dog and you can get one for 2.50$.  A juicy, classic hot dog sausage in a toasted bun, much better then a soggy steamed bun that most sports complex serve to the fans.  Now, if only they would serve them in a paper wrap as opposed to the aluminum bag, it would be perfect.

The aluminum does keep the food warm, but it makes the bun soggy if you keep it in too long.  So remove your treat from that bag asap, add two servings of mustard for one of ketchup, you can also add relish and raw onions if you feel like it, and PLAYBALL!!

Other popular items on their menu includes the Grand Slam Sausage, which is basically an all-dressed dog with a big european style sausage, the BBQ ribs on a bun, the All Star Burger and even the Whole Wheat Turkey Wrap if you somehow think that a ballpark is a place for eating healthy.

As for the game, the Rapidz lost 9 to 4, the Surf banging the Rapidz around for 18 hits.  It was the 41th loss of the year, and the Rapidz are on pace for a 25-win season, which would set a record of mediocrity, as the now-defunct Elmira Pioneers went 28-64 in 2005 to post the worst record in league history.

But we still had a lot of fun. I got an autograph from Noel Baca III (1-7 so far this year), we heckled a lot – including Cecil “Big Daddy” Fielder, whom, believe it or not, is now managing the Surf. Atlantic City is certainly an interesting choice for the former MLB slugger, considering his past gambling problems as reported by the Detroit News.

Among other highlights, I can point out to the ejection of the Rapidz manager Ed Nottle, who couldn’t believe first base umpire Yves Lamontagne blew another call at first in the top of the fourth.  And the Surf’s first base coach, Mike “Rubber Arm” Moseley, was amused enough by some of my heckles that he gave me an authentic game-used Can-Am official baseball!

Even though the Rapidz are struggling, it is still good ball and a good time for all to enjoy.

You can get tickets here.

Wanna grab a bite? Sure, where?

How often do we ask each other that question when it is time to go for some food? 

No matter the occasion, we often end up at our favorite locations because we can’t think of anything.

This little guide can come to the rescue.  I am a very sporadic contributor (and therefore I won’t make any money if you do buy it!!) to CheapEats Ottawa, but I find it very handy as a foodie looking for new places to indulge.

It is well organized by types of cuisine and neighbouroods, has pretty straightforward ratings and give you very direct tips about what to get wherever you are.It includes restaurants across the entire Capital Region – from Barrhaven to Wakefield, from Orleans to Kanata.

So, what is a CheapEats?

Very simple definition, in fact.  A place where you can get either:

– Breakfast for under $5
– Brunch for under $10
– Lunch for under $10
– Dinner for under $15;
INCLUDING taxes and a drink!!! (Mind you, a soft one)

And you can even get Jack Layton‘s own recommendation in it!!

The 2008 Ottawa International Invitational Chicken-Rib Cook-Off

Ya ya ya.I know this happened three weeks ago, but I still had to add a few thoughts about this year’s ribfest.I moved to Ottawa 11 years ago, and every year at the end of June, I am looking forward not only to the end of the parliamantary session, but more importantly to the International Chicken and Rib cook-off, held on Sparks Street.

Folks often don’t realize that east of Bank St., there are more bbq shacks. And usually not as busy. Carmello’s patio is big, and they invited you kindly to enjoy your ribs as long as your purchase a beverage.  It is the case for most patio on Sparks Street, kudos to Carmello’s and Brixton’s especially, but for some reason the people at the Centretown Tavern (the trendy-ish waterhole attached to the not-so trendy Yesterday’s) are stubbornly refusing to join the fiesta and are turning ribfesters away.  We were six enjoying a beer there, and we left when we realized we couldn’t eat the tasty bbq treats there. Not very smart, and not good for business.  Shame.On a funny note, Jazz’oo Cafe’s daily special on the Friday was ribs.  Interesting timing.


Kilgore: Smell that? You smell that?

Lance: What?

Kilgore: BBQ, son. Nothing in the world smells like that. [kneels]

Kilgore: I love the smell of BBQ in the morning. You know, one time we had a pig roasting, for 12 hours. When it was all over, I walked up. We didn’t find one of ‘em, not one stinkin’ bone. The smell, you know that sweet smell, the whole pig. Smelled like… victory.


This year, I had the opportunity to try – in chronological order :
Uncle Sam’s, Silver Bullet, Camp 31, Gator BBQ, Crabby’s.

Camp 31

Now, I wouldn’t want to upstage the stellar judges (btw, you must see the performance of Sandy Sharkey of BOB-FM), but here are my choices:

Gator BBQ had baby back ribs, which were cooked to perfection, even though we went on Saturday morning as most of them bbq folks are still waking up.

Gator BBQ

A little citrus tangy taste to the sauce, I enjoyed them at Carmello’s with a pint of lager. Great combination.

I’ve got to go with Gator BBQ again.  The crew from Florida’s chicken was tender, juicy, tasty, with none of the dryness that sometimes plague the birds at the BBQ shacks.

Silver Bullet, no questions asked.  Spicy, very nice heat, not too thick, it was certainly one of the highlight of this year’s cook-off.

Silver Bullet

It was particulary great with the pulled pork, as the meat absorbed the flavor very well.  Not bad on the ribs as well.

Silver Bullet, I think mostly because of the sauce, but also the tenderness of the meat.  Unlike Camp 31′s pork, which was really oily and had no distinct flavor to it, the Bullet’s hit the target with their slow cooked piggy meat.  No dryness to it at all, and very well pulled in small chunks as opposed to sloppy big dry pieces we could find at other locations.

The familly deal at  Crabby’s.   For 40$, you got half a chicken, full rack of ribs, a pound of pulled pork, two servings each of cole slaw and beans, and a bottle of sauce.  Sweeeeet.