Eats and Exploring in Orléans, Ottawa East
As with any city local, it is common to explore in your own backyard before venturing into different parts of the city. As someone who typically sticks to the west end of Ottawa, I wanted to spend a full day exploring the East end. I’m not sure why I waited! The various Ottawa neighbourhoods all have their own vibe, and driving around Rockcliffe and Orléans felt like experiencing a new city. Here is how I spent my Ottawa East adventure.
A cozy café in Rockcliffe offering both sweet and savoury treats, along with a range of coffee and tea. Currently they have a simplified menu. Order from the front window display to-go or sit at one of the few bistro tables outside. My partner and I left with two coffees, a carrot muffin and grilled cheese.
The Rockcliffe lookout is a beautiful view over the Ottawa River to Gatineau. There is space for a few cars parked directly at the lookout, or you can walk up from the park. Rockcliffe park is one of the oldest and largest urban parks in Ottawa, with a conserved natural state. It is a beautifully wild escape within the city.
Once I had enjoyed the lookout and read the corresponding history boards, I ventured to Cardinal Creek Karst. Honestly, this visit was anti-climactic. I was expecting an interesting hike with a cave feature, and it ended up being a short, paved pathway with a fenced in cave system that was difficult to see. The cool thing about this is that this karst is recognized as the 12th longest cave in Ontario.
Within the Greenbelt, Mer Bleue provides a unique opportunity to enjoy northern boreal landscape close to a large city. You’ll find abundant wildlife, and trails for hiking and cross-country skiing.
The Mer Bleue Bog Trail is the most popular in Mer Bleue. It features an accessible boardwalk with interpretive signs. There are also outhouses and a picnic area; parking at P22.
The Dewberry trail is also part of Mer Bleue; parking at P23. It is a short 1KM trail, perfect for kids and hikers of varying abilities. It can be extended by connecting to other trails.
This waterfall is a beautiful feature, part of a buried river system. You can access the falls directly off of St Joseph Boulevard or from Brookridge Crescent via simple hiking trails. Parking is available on local side streets, including Brookridge Cres.
Keep in mind it is a popular photo spot, and there will likely be photoshoots occurring on a warm, sunny day. It’s best to visit on off times and practice patience.
I enjoyed a pint of the Anytime pale ale, out front on their patio. The patio is partially covered and extremely dog friendly (check out @dogsofstraydog on Instagram). They do not have their own food, but encourage orders from Bistro L’Entre-Deux next door.
Broadhead is within the same plaza area as Stray Dog. I would have also stopped by their patio for a drink but my adventure buddy was the DD for the day, and I felt bad enjoying too many beers on my own, haha.
For more local brewery details, check out the Brews & Views brewery directory.
Hiking trails, food hut, beautiful beaches and boat rentals… you could easily spend an entire day on the island alone. You can rent kayaks, canoes and paddle boards from Oziles’ Marina; you can’t miss it when you are first driving onto the island. They are also a full-service marina and bait & tackle shop. There is parking along the road, but plenty of parking space once you drive further inland, towards the main beach and trails.
Families and friends were enjoying a day at the beach; lounging and swimming. We enjoyed the views and walked along the easy hiking trail, passed the beach and food hut. Bananas Beach Grill offers standard BBQ food such as hot dogs, burgers and jerk chicken, and ice cream at the ice cream shack. Look out for the fairy home in the trees not far from there and continue on the hiking trail until the end marker.
With so many breweries in the east end, we had to visit one more! Orléans Brewing not only creates some refreshing beer, they have a full kitchen and bar menu. I recommend trying a flatbread pizza, as they have a wood-fire oven on site!
A storm began right when it was time for dinner, but the original plan was the OCCO Kitchen patio. I will return! They describe their food as ‘artisanal street food’, everything is made in house daily. The menu has everything from a classic cheeseburger or fish n’ chips to pierogis and tuna poke bowl. This location offers takeout, dine in and patio service plus there is a downtown restaurant.
Wow what a sugar rush! Chocolat Favoris ice cream was our treat of choice, but I doubt you could go wrong with any of their fine chocolates, fondue dips or seasonal packages. You can customize your ice cream with different dips and toppings… I decided upon a cookie ice cream sandwich, with two different cookies! I saw a lot of lovely gift ideas for any chocolate lover.
If you luck out with nice weather and you’re in the mood for a patio with a view, check out Tavern on the Falls on your way back west toward downtown Ottawa. You can also enjoy a drink at Clocktower Brew Pub or The Royal Oak – Beechwood.
There are some other tasty looking restaurants in the east end including;
Rayan Poissonnerie, a casual dining seafood restaurant.
Meatings just moved to Orléans. They specialize in all things BBQ, particularly whole pig and lamb roasting. I enjoyed their pulled pork nachos from their food truck at Overflow Brewing Co, and truly they were some of the best I’ve had!
Sula Wok blends traditional Asian cuisine with street food. Their dumplings and Asian tacos are high on my ‘must try’ list.
Great Canadian Poutinerie has three Ottawa locations, working with the business model ‘good food, good ingredients at great prices’. You can customize your poutine with various meat and veggie options.
Venture even further East and find the town of Cumberland. There is another scenic waterfall to enjoy, Beckett Falls. The Black Walnut Bakery has been recommended to me on several occasions, and I cannot wait to try it. Find a beautiful sunflower field in August, part of Wilmead Farms. Wilmead Farms also sells produce, fall décor such as pumpkins or hay bales, and honey.
In Cumberland, you will find fresh produce, seasonal festivals and occasional events at Proulx Sugar Bush & Berry Farm. Events include Pumpkin Fest in September and Maple Fest in February. It is also the home of Screamers haunted hayride leading to Halloween.
Do you have a favourite restaurant, shop or adventure in Ottawa’s East end? Let me know in the comments!
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