On Saturday evening my family was in town for a visit. I asked my sister to choose a place for dinner and provided her with several suggestions. She came back with a suggestion from her friend Daley. Who recommended Chez Lucien (137 Murray Street, Ottawa) in the Byward Market.
I looked on Urbanspoon.com to find Chez Lucien in the top 10 restaurants. I ventured over earlier in the week to scope out the location of the restaurant as I had read on Urbanspoon.com that it was a small location that was quite busy. So was a little concerned that this place would be cramped or a long wait for a table like other popular chain restaurants.
The outside of the restaurant is nothing to write home about. It looks like a wooden outcrop added on as a mudroom onto an older building. I peered through the front window to find a couple of tables for two and a long bar with some additional seating. Not very roomy at first appearance. I sent a text to my sister asking her to come up with a back up plan if we were not successful in obtaining a table. She replied her second choice would be Tucker's Marketplace (which I visited earlier).
On Saturday my family ventured over to Chez Lucien and arrived at 5:30 P.M. I was a little concerned this would not be quite early enough as sometimes restaurants can start getting busy at 6:00 P.M. onwards.
We entered the restaurant to find it bustling with quite a few people. The restaurant was bigger than I expected with an upstairs balcony with about eight tables and a downstairs near the food preparation area with another eight tables. This was no small cafe but does have room issue due to the restaurant's popularity.
We approached the bar and left our names there on the list. My sister, who left her name, forgot to inquire how long approximately the wait would be. Before we could reconnect with the server, he went upstairs and spoke with a couple of people if they would be willing to move to a smaller table in order to free up some space for our larger party. They graciously agreed and moved tables. The server though, went to another table in order to take a food order. Thus we were puzzled if we were supposed to come upstairs to the table or wait for our seats to be adjusted. But we were eventually ushered upstairs and sat down.
We were not given any menus, so we were a little puzzled what we were supposed to order. One of us found an acrylic table holder which in most restaurants contains the desert menu. We discovered the acrylic menu had the full dinner menu on the front and back. We passed around the menu to each member of our party to choose something from it. The only issue with having one menu, is it takes time to pass around to choose something as opposed to having multiple menues available handed to you as you are seated. But enjoying the company of my family who I had not seen in a while resolved this issue.
The server returned and inquired if we were ready for drinks. We replied we were ready for drinks plus ready for the food order. The server graciously said he was more than ready for everything.
Note: Due to the large party of 5 people I will only provide an order for what my wife and I ordered.
The Order: 1 Grilled Chicken Sandwich Burger with fries & salad and a Kichesippi Blonde Beer and 1 Salmon Burger with fries & salad with a glass of water.
The food arrived fifteen minutes later which was pretty impressive for serving five people.
The Grilled Chicken burger was delicious. The chicken was definately cooked but moist. Garnished with fresh lettuce and tomato it was perfect. The fries were string potato fries served at room temperature. Not great, but considering they had to coordinate the meals with different cooking times all arrive at the same time is impressive though. The fries otherwise were pretty tasty and an interesting take on the regular pub style staple. The salad provided was lettuce, grated carrot and another vegetable I can't remember at this time along with Chez Lucien's homemade creamy garlic salad dressing. It dressing saved what would otherwise be a pretty boring tossed salad. The salad dressing even was pretty good to dip the fries into as well.
The Grilled Salmon burger was also equally impressive. Served with the same salad, fries and other condiments. The burgers all around seemed to be enjoyed by many but this restaurant also serves other pub favourites like liver & onions.
The inside of the bar was mainly clean exposed brick with hand drawn artwork that was for sale by the artists. The juke box played the entire time we were there with mainly oldies being the mainstay of the music.
Overall, Chez Lucien is a hidden gem. The unattractive exterior (as seen on Google Maps Streetview) they apparently gussy up with flowers in hanging baskets and window boxes, only hides the modern interior. The pub also has several local brews on tap like Mill Street and Kichesippi Beer. The food is excellent pub food that many will enjoy for it's freshness and it's taste. We will definately be returning to Chez Lucien. As well, a big shout out thank you to Daley for his suggestion.