It’s not too often you get to go to a pub with a secret room that’s hidden behind a book shelf. Union 613 in Ottawa’s Centretown neighbourhood has such a room, which serves as a Speakeasy. The communal tables of Union 613 are where we gathered with various patrons of the Ottawa food scene for our 4th Food Bloggers of Canada and 1st HootSuite sponsored event (#FBCFeast & #HootUpFeast for all you social media junkies).
We had the pleasure of spending time with three very interesting people. We met Kent, a chef who after working in dozens of restaurants, returned to school to become a teacher. He designed a culinary program, which he is now directing at a high school in Ottawa. He teaches students how to cook with whole ingredients, and tries to give them an accurate picture of both the stress and rewards of pursing a career as a chef. It’s a very impressive program, and it was fascinating to hear stories of its successes.
Caylee, a recent Ottawa transplant who is doing a clerkship for the Supreme Court, and Mel, a beekeeper from the area, also joined us for the evening. Her bees are at Roots and Shoots Farm, pollinating the plants and providing her with raw wild comb honey, some of which she gave to us!
Union 613 had an eclectic southern-style menu, and our group was adventurous enough to order duck hearts, hog jowl, and beef tongue (among other dishes). Sometimes tongue can have a texture a little too reminiscent of, well, tongue, but this dish was braised to perfection and incredibly tender. I don’t know how else to say this, but anyone looking for some good tongue should head straight to Union 613.
The fried green tomatoes were another table favourite. Between our experience here and that soup from the Regent café in Picton, we have really discovered a new love for unripe tomatoes.
The menu also featured boiled peanuts, another classic southern dish. Boiled peanuts are prepared by taking peanuts (traditionally green ones, which are neither roasted nor dehydrated) and boiling them in very salty water, sometimes additionally spiced with things such as hot sauce or ham hocks. The result is a salty soft peanut, which is easily peeled and an addictive appetizer to a meal. It was a race to the bottom of the bowl at our table.
Thanks to FBC and HootSuite for hosting a great event and to Kent, Mel, and Caylee for being great dinner companions!
To everyone else, get to Union for some really good southern comfort food, and a secret speakeasy experience…..