Atmosphere: Late Night Southern Industrial
Things To Try: Chicken and Waffles, Bourbon, and the Raw Bar
One thing I love about many places in Ottawa is their emphasis on supporting local and showcasing new, innovative dishes that speak volumes as to how beautiful food can really be. In this case, Hooch Bourbon House really takes the cake, or is rather the toast of the town with it’s alluring industrial scene down on Rideau Street near the Byward Market. A few minutes past the Rideau Centre this southern style hot spot is praised for its farm-to-table menu and its seafood raw bar. Walking into the restaurant you are embraced not only by the staff, but by the captivating interior of the space itself. With hand painted murals and an array of knick-knacks on a series of shelves, Hooch keeps the eyes wandering and the mouth watering with its menu.
After careful consideration and all the wonderful things I’ve heard from previous friends and reviews, I decided to order the Chicken and Waffles. Taking the night one step further, I also ordered a tray of six oysters from their raw bar as an appetizer. Now before ordering I like to solidify my decision by getting a second opinion from the staff. I feel it is always a good idea to get their feedback and it tells a lot about a restaurant by seeing the kinds of people they employ. In this case the waitress who waited on my roommate and I was marvellous and very helpful explaining both the menu and how Hooch functioned. Before ordering, we asked her how each item stacked up against one another and after being wishy washing, we finally made our decision.
In my food adventures there is always room for more ‘firsts’; this time it was trying raw oysters. Nerve racking and excited, my roommate and were craving some morsels from the deep and decided we would try our tastebuds with the raw oysters. Coming out on a bed of ice, we were served three pairs of pre-shucked oysters, all coming from different provinces of Canada. Pardon if I name them wrong, but the server told us we were trying ‘cook’ oysters from PEI, Trump Cups from Nova Scotia, La Bays from New Brunswick. On a side tray was a series of sauces ranging from a big bottle of spicy sriracha to a house bourbon seasoning. Experimenting and topping each oyster off with a combination of flavours enhanced both the experience as well as the appetizer. Now if you’re an adventurer like myself and do not mind weird consistencies in your mouth, then I would highly suggest trying these out. The oysters mixed with a condiment or two made the dish slimy and satisfying! However, although there was a bit of sand in one of mine, the whole experience of giving these a try was worth it, and I am most certainly getting these again soon!
Chicken and Waffles
I can see why people were raving about this dish in many of the reviews I had read, because oh my gosh it was amazing! Now, I always love taking home leftovers but as the waitress suggested my roommate and I should order the half size portion of the meal rather than the full size. I couldn’t thank her enough because I still got to take leftovers home and enjoy an amazing meal! Watching as my plate was set down in front of me, this beautifully fried cornish hen was laying on top of a fluffy buttermilk waffle. Drenched in a chipotle maple emulsion, each bite hits your tastebuds with a note of heat and sweet leaving you wanting more. The skin on the outside of the cornish hen was perfectly crisp and when biting into it, your mouth is taken on a journey. First is the seductive crunch, up next comes the juicy tenderness from the fried portion, and finally you get an amazing explosion of flavour that gives highlights of both soul and southern. The creation and execution of this plate is one to be proud of, and I can see how it has come to be one of Hooch Bourbon House’s signature dishes. If you’ve never had chicken and waffles before, I highly recommend giving them a try; furthermore, I highly suggest you try the ones from Hooch Bourbon House for they are superb.
All in all, my experience at this restaurant was top notch; the service was fantastic, the food was amazing, and it is a really cool place to check out if you’re in the area. It was a Tuesday when I went, so I might have to come back on the weekend and give their infamous bourbon menu a try!