Cafes, Glebe

There’s Something To Be Said About Little Victories

Two-and-a-half months of vacation before residency begins can only be seen as a blessing. Many of us travel, some get married, others attend weddings and other events. All of us have some fun adulting responsibilities, such as filling out our payroll and insurance forms for our residency programs. Some of us decide to pursue hobbies and interests outside of medicine, such as coffee guzzling and writing. Then there are special people who run around Ottawa making new childhood memories in their mid-to-late twenties.

The doll on the left is my attitude on most days.

Cafe adventures are always more fun in groups, and it was with full bellies and abated hangriness that I brought Sumaiya and Marissa with me to Little Victories Coffee Roasters in the Glebe. As soon as Marissa saw the Suzy Q sign outside the building, I knew nothing would stop her from entering the premises. I personally loved the storefront, with the blue-grey painted bricks and large, beautiful windows.

Notice the Suzie Q sign at the top-right of the photograph.

We were able to grab the tables near the windows. There was a larger table behind us with more seating available, and wooden benches near the cash and washroom. Each table was adorned with a cute plant (succulent, cactus, orchids), which added a simple yet colourful touch to the cafe’s decor. The space was clean, well-kept, and comfortable, with a washroom available to customers at the back of the building. There was a steady stream of customers during the entire time we sat in the shop, with most taking their drinks to go since it was a beautiful sunny day.

She likes it here because there is good lighting.

Coffee drinks are available in small (8oz) and large (12oz) sized mugs. There are also paper cups available as to-go options. For my fellow coffee lovers who cannot tolerate dairy, they offer oat milk, almond milk and coconut milk as dairy substitutes. The only food available was a fantastic selection of Suzy Q donuts, which kept Marissa occupied for at least 7 minutes (shown below). Take note of the vegan options available for vegans and non-vegans alike.

Large and delicious. There’s a flavour for everyone!

The customer service was excellent. We were able to order without a hassle and our drinks were brought to our table. Sumaiya opted for water, which was available in a pitcher at the back of the shop. She noticed there were some coffee grinds in the pitcher when she went to refill her cup, and the issue was immediately taken care of by the staff. She was adamant I include this anecdote in my blog post as she was very impressed.

I ordered an 8oz cafe latte made with oat milk for $4.50. I’ve come to truly appreciate the texture of oat milk; it’s smooth and does not taste as strong as almond or coconut milk. I also find the foam isn’t as thick on the surface of the latte. The oat milk latte I had at Little Victories did not disappoint, and I adored the design in the thin layer of foam.

Marissa opted for an 8oz cafe mocha with regular milk. In her own words:

It was the perfect ratio of espresso to chocolate and amount of sweetness. It tasted rich, more like a dark chocolate as opposed to a milk chocolate.”

After much deliberation, she finally opted for the sugar munkki donut, a simple yet delicious balance to the otherwise rich and flavourful mocha. She found the combination to be excellent.

During our visit, we were not able to find any Wi-Fi networks (we always check just in case). I definitely would not consider this a deal-breaker for any cafe; lots of work can be done without access to the internet, and we had each other to talk to for 2 hours which is plenty entertaining on its own. For some reason, we decided to take photos of our drinks using our current reads and my journal as props:

It is a reflective time in our lives.
….we need a lot of help, okay?

Our vacation time may have led to small existential crises and the only help we’ll accept is from an author who understands the psyche of millennials and explains concepts using well-timed swear words. We actually discussed the contents of these books amongst ourselves and would definitely recommend these books as summer reads. Overall, a great day with phenomenal friends; we went on after our cafe adventure to relive our youth at the playground in Mooney’s Bay.

Proof you can survive 2 hours without Wi-Ffi.

Little Victories has a wonderful Instagram page with gorgeous photos and announcements regarding their special events. Give them a follow if you’d like to learn more about them!

Updates: you can follow the blog’s new Instagram page @ottcafehopper ! You can also follow the blog on Facebook, whichever you prefer (or both).

Happy Monday!

—E.l.

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Back for Good feat. Arlington Five

It seems like Ottawa missed the memo on which season we’re expecting in May. In a way, Ottawa seems to have left Spring on read, and no one likes to be ghosted.

For many writers, rainy days simply translate to easy opportunities to settle down in a coffee shop and write the day away. When we push our hearts to the brinks of tachycardia, some of us may switch from soy lattes to mimosas or beer. After all, some of the best writing is done under the influence. Now that I have graduated from medical school (woo!), I have ample amount of time to pack in as many visits to cafes as possible before July. The good news for you, dear readers, is that my medical residency program keeps me in Ottawa, which means another 3-4 years of cafe adventures (at least).

One gorgeous place I’ve visited 3 times since last December is Arlington Five, located in Centretown.

Thankfully there was no snow on the ground during my last visit.

The first thing I noticed walking through their doors was how calm I felt. There’s a type of zen permeating from the space and staff alike, and it was one of the rare moments I could hear myself think clear, unique thoughts (as opposed to the disastrous jumble they usually are). My hypothesis; clean, open space, well-lit, lots of beautiful plants growing on the window sills, and breath-taking art work displayed by local artists = good vibes. They also have a mini library near the stairs at the back, which is always a plus.

Actual footage of my emotional reaction at my ability to think clearly.

Their coffee is sourced by Happy Goat Coffee (which is delicious and I encourage you to try some when you have the chance), and all food ingredients are locally sourced. The menu is written on a chalkboard in front of the cash right when you enter, with vegetarian and even vegan options available. There’s an all-day breakfast sandwich as well as a daily soup and lighter options such as scones, cookies and yogurt. In terms of non-dairy options for drinks, they have soy and almond milk available for the espresso drinks and teas (cold and hot).

The cookies are large and in charge of my heart.

I’m kind of boring in my coffee choices, opting always for my fave soy latte. I’m not a fan of the foam, which is why during my 3 visits here I appreciated the delicate hand pouring the steamed soy milk into my mug. I find the leaf patterns very cute, especially since I can never replicate them at home. I also think it’s great to offer free glasses of water, especially during the summer months. It’s also good to have some H2O to offset the dehydration following intense caffeine consumption.

Marissa, forever indulging my obsessive need to photograph every cafe adventure.

On two occasions, I opted for the veggie deli sandwich (I don’t even regret subjecting myself to the ricotta, it was so good). Highly recommended. On the third occasion, I tried the chickpea salad sandwich which is certifiably vegan and absolutely delicious. You can actually taste every ingredient in each sandwich, a testament to their freshness. I enjoyed the placement of my sandwich in the photograph below, looks like a googly-eyed thing. I also decided to copy my sassy cool fabulous faaaancéeee friend Alex on my 3rd visit by getting a vegan chocolate chip cookie when he got his Skor cookie.

Alex secretly wondering if he can knock me out and eat all my food.

Now, older buildings often have low-ceilings in the basement. I was able to personally experience this as I walked down the stairs to use the bathrooms. Being 5’10 has its perks, except for the increased risk of traumatic brain injury when you forget you’re way above the Canadian height average.

Second puberty?

Great experiences overall, I look forward to coming back with a good book to spend the afternoon reading. Arlington Five is open every day from 8am-5pm; their kitchen is open from 10am-4pm. As is the norm nowadays, they have free wi-fi available and lots of space to sit It does tend to be busy around lunch time, and seating is available outside on warmer/drier days. They have a fabulous Instagram page with more flattering photos and event announcements. There’s some street parking available, but public transportation is the surest way to get there… especially if you’re planning on spending the afternoon working there. Make sure to stop by and let me know what you think!

Until then, I will be working on the next few blog posts for your entertainment while jamming to some RuPaul.

You can follow the blog’s new Facebook page for updates. I am also debating starting an Instagram page, so stay tuned!

— E.l.

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Figaro and Fighting the Urge to Sing

As this is likely the last 2 weeks-straight of vacation I will get for a long time, I am doing my best to make the most of it by accomplishing the following:

  1. Honouring my night owl tendencies and read until 1am and wake up at 10:30am;
  2. Cleaning out my closets and give away anything re-usable or recyclable;
  3. Interview prep-ing at cafés and squeezing out a few blog posts whenever I can.

Which brings me to Figaro Coffee House (650 Industrial Ave) at noon on this lovely Saturday. Actually, the real story is that my boyfriend gets exasperated by my obsession with Starbucks and supporting non-Canadian coffee chains and strongly suggested I pay Figaro a visit. Hard to argue with that logic, and the point of this blog is to highlight local coffee shops. Off I went to Figaro’s with my 2 residency interview prep books and my teen fiction novel (Pretties by Scott Westerfeld)

I admit I’ve gotten spoiled since buying my car 2 years ago. I spent my first 6 years in Ottawa taking public transit with varying levels of success, and a car came as a real treat since it meant sleeping in and stressing out less (mostly) about getting to places on time. However, one of my biggest pet-peeves with Ottawa is its parking situation. I’ve rarely had so much trouble parking in any city, and Ottawa tops the list. When I pulled up to the coffee house, I realized I done-goofed and had to reverse my way out of the dead-end to find parking elsewhere. I apologize to the drivers behind me who gave me the stank eye (and probably retracted it once they realized why I was safely backing out of the lot). Luckily, there is parking behind the Nordstrom Rack, and it is a short walk to the café from there.

Side note: I think every shop and restaurant in Ottawa should have a “Parking” tab on their website to help customers find free or paid parking. It could be as simple as uploading a local map with big P’s to help us out.

As usual, I generally try not to include people in my photographs unless they provide verbal consent. The website has plenty of lovely photos of the place in case mine don’t do it justice (they don’t) and, as it turns out, you can 3D tour the place from the comfort of your own couch.

Figaro Coffee House has a warm, friendly atmosphere. I immediately fell in love with the ashy wood floors and dark wooden tables and cabinets which immediately confer a modernesque feel. I also am a huge fan of floor to ceiling windows which make the place feel larger and ensures it is well-lit no matter where you choose to sit. The music ranged from classical to jazz to opera and remained at the perfect volume to study, read, chat or people-watch. As far as first impressions go, I enjoyed the feel and cleanliness of the shop.

I will definitely need an espresso machine in residency.

I had the luxury of choosing a 4-seater table, and so I strategiclaly laid out my books, notepad and laptop before getting in line. Within 5 minutes, I had a hot, medium soy latte in my hands for $4.30. I forgot to ask, but I do not believe they charge extra for non-dairy options. The latte was done to perfection, not a trace of burnt espresso and a pleasantly light coating of foam. It provided a well-needed hug-from-the-inside after braving the chilly morning.

Interview preparation requires serious caffeination and scheduled distractions.

I did end up getting another latte and a falafel wrap for lunch, but I was so hungry I devoured it before I thought of taking a picture. It was delicious and warmed to exactly the right temperature. Everything from their sandwiches to pastries to their coffee is prepared fresh daily, and it makes quite the difference in terms of taste and texture.

Coffee beans by the barrel!

There was more seating space around the corner where customers could purchase ground coffee beans for home. My close friend and colleague has informed me she purchases her espresso from this location and adores her home-made lattes.

Another positive aspect is their opening hours; Monday – Thursday from 6am to 9pm, Friday – Saturday from 7am – 10pm, and Sunday from 7am to 7pm.

One downfall: the lack of electrical outlets. As someone who works primarily off their laptop, the free wi-fi is great, but it is useless if I cannot charge my computer (more reason for me to invest in a Mac? Another discussion for a different day).

Their full menu is available online for your convenience, with pricing available in-store.

If you’ve been to Figaro’s, what did you think?

I am also taking in suggestions for Ottawa cafés to check out before leaving for my pan-Canadian interview tour. I was thinking of checking out the Feline Café in Hintonburg because who doesn’t love coffee and cats?

-E.L.

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CaRMS, an Excuse to Tour the Country

Happy Holidays everyone!

I hope this has been a time of relaxation and celebration as 2018 comes to a close. On my end, I have been climbing that steep learning curve they call clerkship in medical school, and looks like the final stretch has finally arrived. For most of the month of January, I will be touring the country once again for medical residency interviews.

This past Fall was full of travels in itself. My first stop was  west of Toronto in a city called Guelph. They have some cute cafes over there, however, I cannot seem to find my photographs at the moment. I am so relieved that non-dairy milks have become more and more common since starting this blog.

My second destination was out east to the beautiful City of Sydney in Cape-Breton, Nova Scotia. The featured image is actually a photo from the popular Dillan’s at Wentworth. I gratefully sampled their soy cafe mocha and chicken burrito with chili on a cool Fall day after clinic. If you ever find yourself in the neighbourhood, I definitely recommend you check them out!

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Back in Ottawa, I tended to stick to my favourite Starbucks locations. The above is their relatively new Starbucks Reserve location in the Byward Market. I had a reward that day, so I opted for my favourite Venti Soy Hazelnut Latte (my preferred Fall beverage, sorry PSL). Perks of being in Ottawa include being able to study with my wonderful partner in crime (who is one year behind and just starting clerkship).

Speaking of my partner in crime, I followed him to his hometown of Winnipeg for two weeks. We spent one morning studying in a St-Boniface coffee shop called Café Postal:

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Notice how the studying has amped up to research articles about infectious diseases.

It is safe to say I have continued my cafe adventures during this last year of medical school. Another cool place I visited was Mamie Clafoutis in Westboro (Ottawa):

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Their butternut squash soup was scrumptious, and their freshly made baguette and pastries were also a pleasure to devour. I ended up ordering a spicy chai soy latte (shocking, when have I ever done that?) which ended up paying off. All in all, a great foray into the unknown!

I hope to visit and review mores cafes over the holiday break, as well as during my interview season. Stay tuned for more posts on where to find the city’s best coffee spots!

– E.L.

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Coffee Drip Stat

Despite the busy schedule the past 3 years, I have still managed to visit many coffee shops in Ottawa, new and olf favourites included. The most recent target: The Cupcake Lounge in Westboro Village.

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Luckily for yours truly, they have vegan cupcakes available! There are also delicious gluten-free options for my celiacs. The hot chocolates were exquisite, some of the best I’ve had in a long time. I came here last night on a date after eating at Pure Kitchen nearby. I’ve been meaning to do a special post on the best date-worthy cafes in Ottawa, probably stratified by time of day and occasion.

Another place that opened recently is Happy Goat Coffee on Elgin St. I neglected to take any photos except for the following:

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That’s right. After months of living inside hospitals, I finally reunited with an old friend. We spent 3 hours chatting over coffee (I had a soy mocha, delicious, will take a photo next time). I admit the menu is pricey, 5$ for the mocha and it was an average-sized serving. The ambiance was very chic, however, and there was plenty of room to sit comfortably. One thing I didn’t notice was the electric plug situation, which I will have to inspect once I return for a study session.

I recently had my wisdom teeth removed, so my return to the food and coffee scene will be slow. I hope to be able to visit the new Feline Cafe next, after making a stop at Stella Luna’s for some gelato to ease the pain and swelling. A liquid only diet isn’t as glamourous as it sounds, especially when hot coffee is off the menu for the next little while.

A la prochaine!

-E.L.

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Wild Oat Bakery & Cafe: A Sunday Success

As promised, I am posting my latest cafe adventure AT LAST. Hopefully I’m earning some points, guys.

I would introduce you guys to a new partner in crime, aka Melissa, aka fellow Oakvillian med student, but unfortunately she did not survive the morning’s workout. Kidding. She had stuff to do; she promised to come next time.

After an intense bout of Body Pump, I walked down Bank Street towards my next hit: Wild Oat Bakery & Cafe. I found this cafe after doing a quick search for vegan/vegetarian/gluten-friendly cafes in Ottawa, and it was the closest location to the gym. Ravenous and caffeine-deprived, it took all I had to take the above photo before rushing inside.

The place was packed. I don’t mean packed like a TTC subway cart in Toronto; it was much more pleasant than that. It gave me the impression it was a warm and welcoming place much beloved by its Glebian patrons. The cafe is separated into two areas: the first is the actual bakery portion, where deliciousness is displayed in various shapes and forms.

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(For new readers: I try my best not to capture faces in my photos, to protect the innocent. On that note, go little kid repping Canada like a pro #Canuck).

On the right, there is a hot food table where you could get yourself scrumptious portions of VEGAN red lentil soup:

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There seemed to be something for everyone to eat, even myself with my ridiculous dietary restrictions (which don’t include meat, by the way; I’m just a semi-vegan).

As I was on the hunt for coffee, I passed over to the other side to see what additional wonders Wild Oat Bakery & Cafe held. The cafe and breakfast/lunch portion was located on this side, with tables and stools for patrons to sit and eat their food. As I mentioned earlier, the place was pretty much at max capacity. As I stood in line, I read the fabulous chalkboard menus while attempting to be stealthily non-creepy about photographing the place.

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Have I ever mentioned how much I love chalkboards? The colours here are glorious, and apparently they serve wine, beer, and cider:

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Literally, there is something for everyone here. On top of that, the prices for coffees were fairly reasonable. I opted for a hot drink this time, ordering a medium soy latte for about 4$. You can order drinks with organic milk, soy milk, or almond milk, and they have cream available on the coffee prep tables for those ordering simpler coffees. For those craving cold, non-alcoholic drinks, they also have a selection of iced coffees/lattes/mochas, as well as some ultra healthy smoothies. I ordered a sandwich as well, and was given my latte and a number (which I brought to my stool near the window).

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Go #1! And look at that latte froth. Perfection. I think it was the first time I drank coffee from a pint, and I would do it again. It’s classy.

I didn’t have to wait long for my sandwich. I ordered the East Meets West grilled sandwich (my apologies to the cashier for messing up that tongue twister at the cash). I ordered it on whole wheat bread, and it comes with tofu, tahini, pesto, cilantro, tomato, and greens (I asked for no onions).

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My entire order cost about 13$ in total, and it was delicious. The sandwich was hot, the veggies tasted fresh, and I found myself enjoying the seasoned tofu quite a bit. The coffee stayed hot throughout the entire meal, and I had a lovely view of the Glebe sitting at the window. They also have seats outside in the shade, in case anyone is claustrophobic.

Funny but awesome aside: I barely gazed at my phone the entire time I was there. Why? Well, let’s just say I had an actual interaction with an actual person like they used to do in the pre-cellular device era. Since the place was busy, I had the wonderful opportunity of sharing my table with someone who proved without a doubt the world is extremely tiny. It turns out this wonderful lady is close to a potential future medical student who interviewed at uOttawa. As if that wasn’t crazy enough, this medical student hopeful’s aunt is one of my small group teaching mentors. We had a good laugh over that. Also, this lady is a major Greece fan: I will break a plate for you in your honour, hope you like the blog! I will also check out the places you suggested and look out for possible mutual acquaintances!

All in all, I really don’t have anything bad to say about Wild Oat Bakery & Cafe. They have their public health certification (right under the hot coffee menu), the place is kept tidy, and the staff are friendly and polite. For those interested in the menu, a reviewer sent a copy to the Zomato website: https://www.zomato.com/ottawa/wild-oat-the-glebe/menu

Have you ever been to this Glebian cafe? How was your experience there? Do you have any other cool places to suggest?

Happy Sunday!

-EL

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Once upon a time, in med school…

As Snoop Dog would say in a Katy Perry song: “Greetings, loved ones”.

I can’t believe I just wrote that.

Anyways, I know it’s been a long time since my last post, and at this point any promises to write more posts mean little to my dear readers. BUT I think I have a semi-solid excuse and I hope this flies for you:

I’m in medical school.

Holy crap. I can finally write that on a public blog. Feels great! So that’s why I haven’t written anything since February 2015. At that point, I was in my last semester of undergrad, I was prepping for my medical school interviews, and I was trying not to lose my mind working two part-time jobs. Thankfully, hard work pays off and I am now in my second semester of my first year of medicine. Time flies, but at least now I can percuss people’s chests and abdomens semi-well.

I also no longer have red hair. For the first time in 5 years, I had my natural colour back in its entirety. Until April 15th, 2016.

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That’s right. I went greeeeeeeeeen.

The conversation with the stylist went pretty much as expected.

Stylist: So you want your hair cut and styled with partial highlights? What colour were you thinking?

Me: I was thinking blue/teal. Or red if you don’t have blue.

Stylist: *comes back from checking* I have green.

Me: ….sold.

Hence, I went to Med Ball 2016 with mermaid hair. Creds to Arzie at L’essence salon in St-Laurent mall for the fabulous job (follow her on Instagram @hairbyarzie).

In regards to coffee, I’ve been to a few cool places in Ottawa during my hiatus. I have decided to reclaim the blog and continue my coffee adventures, green hair and stethoscope and all. Actually, you all have a fan to thank for this – hi Farrah and friends! – as they have commanded I continue my blog for their post-first year undergrad entertainment.

I’m hoping to hit up some places this weekend as I write an essay on a new HIV drug that’s been approved in Canada. Bring on the coffee!

Happy Tuesday!

-El