Some restaurants seem to have a knack for regularly attracting high profile clients. While good food is always fashionable, it takes a special touch to become a "see and be seen" venue.
We've scouted some locations in Ottawa that are known not only for their fine food, but also for their ability to draw celebrities from the political, sports and entertainment worlds, offering the rest of us a chance to do a little star gazing while we dine.
Métropolitain Brasserie at lunch
Aside from its very popular after-work "Hill Hour", the Métropolitain Brasserie is also one of Ottawa's busiest lunch spots, thanks to its prime downtown location, close to the Parliament Buildings and numerous major tourist attractions.
Both the beautifully-appointed interior and spacious seasonal patio are ideal for those who want to see and be seen. Recently spotted at the Métropolitain were entertainment legends Bryan Adams, Henry Winkler and Hilary Duff along with lots of A-list political types, including Justin Trudeau.
Anything seafood on their authentic bistro-style menu is worth ordering, particularly the oysters, shrimp or mussels & frites.
The Métropolitain Brasserie is at 700 Sussex Drive; 613.762.1160 or www.metropolitainbrasserie.com
Social is consistently cited as one of the best venues in the ByWard Market's vibrant restaurant scene. Just steps away from Parliament Hill, it is perennially popular with politicos at lunchtime.
Then, as the sun goes down, Social fills up once again with hip young professionals gathering for drinks and dinner. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, the energy level is high, thanks to the talented house DJs.
Come summertime, Social is the go-to spot for live jazz in the beautiful Clarendon Courtyard. It's an ideal venue for people watching, indoors and out.
While the cheerful staff at Social take great pride in respecting guests' privacy, they do admit their chic restaurant is a favourite among Senators - both the political and hockey ones! On any given night, you just might find yourself rubbing shoulders with some Hollywood types along with the nicely-dressed urban crowd.
Executive Chef Matthew Carmichael's food is the perfect complement to Social's timeless décor which is classy, but definitely not stuffy. Not to be missed is the fantastic duck confit, as well as the salmon and other sustainable delights from the sea.
Any sweet tooth will surely be satisfied by either the carrot cake or crème brulée, both of which are decadently delicious.
Social is at 537 Sussex Drive. Visit www.social.ca or call 613.789.7355.
OsteriaStella offers more than just a casually elegant, energetic vibe. It's also a restaurant that was specifically designed to provide good sightlines throughout, making it all the easier to see and be seen.
Drawing everyone into the action is also what co-owner Ida Firestone describes as a "living room feel," thanks to an assortment of banquettes and small tables with stylish chairs.
The space is enhanced by two semi-private nooks and, throughout summer, both a street-side and rooftop patio. Ottawa's social elite seem to favour Stella, as do many politicians plus the embassy and hockey crowds.
The name is widely known, with many bands and famous comedians hitting up Stella when performing in town. Rounding out the clientele are devoted patrons who return for the food, the atmosphere and also the chance sightings of the famous or near-famous.
Favourite menu items include the deep-fried ribbon zucchini, lemon garlic tiger shrimp and Stella Italian salad. The handcrafted flatbread pizzas are a sure hit, as are the braised short rib gnocchi and linguine de mare. Sweet temptations include a unique chocolate crème brulée.
For this family-run business, it's all about service. The sommelier and chef are always pleased to personalize your experience, helping to maintain Stella's reputation as one of the ByWard Market's favourite spots.
Stella is at 81 Clarence Street. Visit www.stellaosteria.com or call 613.241.2200
Fratelli - Kanata
Much like the iconic Beantown bar called Cheers, Fratelli boasts legions of regulars, including both high profile locals and international celebrities. Like all four Fratelli restaurants, the busy Kanata location is affordable, unpretentious and fun.
In Italian, Fratelli means brothers; it's Ottawa's gregarious Valente brothers who welcome you to their bustling restaurant, a favourite among visiting hockey players and political leaders. Lots of actors and musicians also stop by, thanks to Fratelli's proximity to Scotiabank Place, Brookstreet and other west-end hot spots.
Run like a cozy neighbourhood trattoria, Fratelli is a place where friends gather before or after an event; many come to spend the evening in the casual, convivial atmosphere.
Known for its customer-first attitude, it is the consistency that propels Fratelli onto the "must visit" lists of those in the know.
Most popular menu items include pastas such as the penne pasquale, fusilli genovese and the fettuccine sila. Equally praised are the pizzas and the sambuca shrimp, but be sure to save room for a serving of their fantastic nutella cake or chocolate terrine.
Fratelli's Kanata location is at 499 Terry Fox Drive. Visit www.fratelli.ca or call 613.592.0225.
Renowned for its discretion and long considered one of Ottawa's finest Italian restaurants, Giovanni's Ristorante in the heart of Little Italy is where any hip celeb can slink in for gracious service and authentic Italian cuisine while local socialites and discerning diners enjoy their own romantic or special evenings.
The European influenced décor, with sparkly chandeliers and terra cotta walls, provides the perfect backdrop to Giovanni's impressive menu and outstanding wine cellar.
Among the most popular dishes is the Vitello dello Chef, a sublime dish of veal, jumbo shrimps and mushrooms, napped in a beautiful cognac and cream sauce. The seafood risotto, cooked to toothsome perfection, is another perennial favourite. A finishing note to any meal would be their authentic tiramisu, offering up creamy, satisfying sweetness.
Giovanni's has hosted such notables as celebrities Tori Spelling, Jon Bon Jovi and, most recently, Pauly D from the hit TV show Jersey Shore. It's also favoured by hockey players, high ranking politicians and high profile locals, all of whom appreciate both ?the fine food and delightful atmosphere.
Whether you are looking for a spot to have fun with friends or have an intimate evening, Giovanni's is a great option.
Giovanni's is at ?362 Preston Street. Call 613.234.3156 or? visit www.giovannis-restaurant.com.