Old Spaces, Fresh FoodPublished on March 17, 2019

  • Emma Campbell and Caroline Murphy
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • Corner Peach
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • Jamari Espresso House
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • Jamari Espresso House
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

  • Working Title Kitchen—Café
    Photo by: Mark Holleron

Ottawa At Home checks out three of the newest arrivals to Ottawa’s ever-evolving food scene, all housed in beautifully repurposed spaces in the heart of desirable neighbourhoods.

Corner Peach

Emma Campbell and Caroline Murphy, both veterans of the local food scene, have teamed up to realize their shared teenaged dream of owning a restaurant. Corner Peach on Somerset Street in the heart of Chinatown is a carefully retrofitted heritage space. The stylish yet relaxed décor is the perfect backdrop for a seasonal menu built around the freshest local ingredients, right down to all the jars of peaches they canned themselves.

Shifting gears from being a coffee shop in the morning to a casual eatery at lunch and a fancy diner at night, Corner Peach delivers exceptional food in a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere with exposed brick, a distressed heritage tin ceiling and retro-styled touches that include gorgeous mint-green barstools.

With a mission to share, learn and satisfy, Corner Peach offers locally-roasted coffee, tea, juices and kombucha, plus house-made pastries including scones, hand pies, and Portuguese egg tarts. Lunches feature deluxe sandwiches, soups, and salads, to be eaten in or taken out. It is a perfect pit stop for afternoon drinks and snacks, segueing to dinner after 5 pm where the vegetable-centric menu also offers tantalising meat options, with small and larger plates available along with house-made sweets. Licensed, it’s stocked with a fine selection of favourite local and regional beverages.

Jamari Espresso House

A small sign on Hamilton Avenue, just north of the Parkdale Market, whispers at the promise of something special inside. Upon entering Jamari Espresso House you’ll be met with intoxicating scents of cinnamon, coffee, essential oils and more, while your eyes feast on the visual delights within.

Jamari—the nickname given to owner Janet Nicol by her husband—is not your average coffee shop. With a delightful mishmash of stools, tables and a Balinese hanging basket chair, plus a lounging platform that converts to a stage for live jazz on Sundays, it’s a perfect spot to relax, unplug and connect with people, which is exactly the kind of place Janet strove to create.

Located in an old industrial building, Jamari shares its space with Janet’s other business, the eclectic, appealing Metta Movement and Meditation Studio. As befits a place of wellness and tranquility, the café’s short but tempting paleo-inspired menu features bone broth, vegan broth and chaga mushroom broth along with tasty topped toasts, energy balls, raw chocolate, rotating soups and more.

The beverage lineup includes coffee, chai from San Francisco’s legendary Samovar Tea House, seasonal smoothies, kombucha and intriguing lattes. A newly-acquired liquor license will see delicious updates to the Jamari menu; planned additions include organic wine, local whiskey and beer plus charcuterie plates and tapas for everyone from vegans to omnivores. 

Working Title Kitchen—Café

Head through a set of red doors under the historic bell tower of the former All Saints’ Anglican Church in Sandy Hill and you’ll discover a charming new eatery called Working Title Café. It’s the latest kitchen to welcome talented young executive chef Kyle Mortimer-Proulx.

Housed in a 120 year-old building which was deconsecrated, purchased by a group of community investors and reimagined as a multifaceted event space, the café boasts original stone walls and old brick complemented by poured-concrete countertops and herringbone tile under the bar. Clean, industrial-chic touches add a modern warmth to the historic space.

The menu showcases Kyle’s love of local and seasonal ingredients. Freshly baked daily from scratch treats—dubbed “not your average church bake sale”—might include quadruple chocolate crunch or peanut butter and pretzel cookies, along with muffins and scones. Soups and salads change often and the inventive sandwich lineup is refreshed every few months. Also available are freshly-made take home meals for reheating.
Enjoy a fun 5 à 7 menu on Thursdays and Fridays, featuring local beer and wine, creative cocktails, charcuterie and cheese boards and more. As a bonus, inexpensive onsite babysitting is available on Friday evenings. Monthly pop-up dinners are in the works and spring will see the arrival of a 50-seat patio.

Paula Roy

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