The community association isn't having a Board meeting until September, and unlike June and Springtime, things have been fairly quiet for the Community Association (new community garden notwithstanding).
To ease us back into the groove, the CCCA is holding another Gab & Graze--a relaxed social get-together at a Centretown establishment. This month, it's at Jean Albert's*, an American-style soul food restaurant at on Somerset at Lyon that opened earlier this year. We'll be gathering on Tuesday, August 17, 2010 from around 5:30-7:30.
*Bilingual Ottawans should note that it's pronounced in English, like blue jeans plus Fat Albert's.
I went there with a friend in May. The menu is brief but rich. You pick an entrée and two sides--a decision that is complicated by the variety of sides available.
My friend had the southern fried chicken with collard greens and black eyed peas, and I had the juicy chicken breast with candied yams and coleslaw. We didn't realize until after we'd ordered that there were several sauce options, including having the sauce baked into the food.
The portions looked small, but only due to large plates. Separate containers for the sides facilitated sharing. I'm no professional foodie, but everything was enjoyable.
Online reviews of the restaurant are mixed, most praising the food, but some complaining of slow service. Many of the reviews date from the first few weeks since the restaurant opened, so hopefully we'll all have a good time there.
Jean Albert's is located in the house that used to be Hot Pepper's, and the Hot Pepper's banner was still up in late April. That restaurant and its owner, Luc Lapointe, made the news in 2008 when Lapointe protested the City's then-new graffiti by-law.
After our meal, LeRoy and Jennifer Walden came out to say hi, and LeRoy chatted with us for a while. He talked about his vision for the restaurant, including the upstairs lounge (which has since opened), and that he wants the restaurant to be like walking into Grandma's kitchen: leave your troubles at the door, 'cause grandma doesn't want to hear about them.
LeRoy is also very enthusiastic about the history of Hull and the Ottawa Valley, talking about Al Capone's Quadville, Ontario hideout, and other north-of-the-border events that took place during Prohibition. But most of all, he's passionate about food.
This is the third Gab & Graze event held by the CCCA. The first two were held last year at the Atomic Rooster bar & bistro, and the Imperial tavern, both on Bank Street, to encourage people to continue to visit Bank Street during the construction. Gab & Graze is also a good way to get to know other CCCA members outside of meetings.