a peek inside the fishbowl

18 Jan, 2014

Lunch no.570 at the Flying Banzini

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Ottawa|Recipes and Food

Some of you already know about my #dailylunches project and some of you don’t. If you’d like to find out why I’ve photographed 570 lunches (and counting), you can read this blog post.

Yesterday was a surprise PD day (at least it was for me), so my youngest and I decided to shake things up by going out for lunch together. The destination: The Flying Banzini.

I’ve been intrigued with this restaurant ever since I first heard about it. The owner is a fabulous writer and I am a fan of his blog.It’s a really interesting behind-the-scenes view of the restaurant business, and I’ve actually recommended it to other small business owners as a good example of A Job Well Done. It’s insightful, personal, honest, and you can’t help but feel a connection to the story. I was especially impressed with this post he wrote after his restaurant got a disappointing review in the Ottawa Citizen. It was that post – and the fact that he even promoted the review on FB and Twitter – that basically RE-solidified my quest to go there.

So off we went!

The décor at Flying Banzini is quite attractive. There’s lots of wood, exposed brick, old-timey photos, and a mix of high and low seating. It’s comfortable and welcoming, a friendly kind of place to meet friends or family. This was my daughter’s view (these are her photos):

The Flying Banzini*

The Flying Banzini*

It was a busy place on Friday!

The restaurant experience here is a little different, but not off-putting. Instructions are clearly displayed upon entry: order at the counter, pay, sit, and wait to be served. I had to hold back because I had a tough time deciding what to choose (crispy pork belly! shaved beef! roast beet salad! ack!). As an omnivore I would have been happy with anything on the menu but I eventually decided on a vegetarian panini that goes by the name of Easy, Easy, Baby. It had roasted red peppers, oven dried tomatoes, spinach, red onion, black olive tapenade, cucumber, and goat cheese.

As per instructions, we ordered, paid, sat, and our food was delivered in no time.

This is what it looked like:

January 17 #dailylunches no.570 - a lunch date with my youngest. And there was cheesecake.

My sandwich was quite good, but I was secretly hoping for something a leeeettle more on the savoury side. Roasted veggies are naturally sweet as they caramelize, but I found myself wondering if they’d be happier without being saddled with cucumber as it’s not something I’d usually add to this kind of sandwich. Maybe I’d use a slightly more bitter green instead of the spinach? I’m not sure what the answer is, and I certainly don’t want to give the impression that I didn’t like my sandwich, because I did. It was crisp and hot and satisfying… like a panini should be. It disappeared in a flash.

My youngest ordered a meal-sized Caesar salad, which she declared to be “fantastic” despite her initial misgivings about the word “anchovy” in the description. I asked her about it afterwards and she said “the lettuce was fresh and the dressing was really good.” I would agree as I had a side Caesar with my sandwich, but I’d ask for a lighter touch with the dressing next time. But maybe that’s just me.

As we ate our lunch I watched the owner, Dave Scharf, talking with staff, meeting and mingling with customers… basically making sure the stars were aligned in terms of food orders. He was also pouring water and clearing tables and running to and fro with the broom; essentially doing everything that needs to be done in a restaurant.

Will I go back? I certainly will, and I look forward to bringing the rest of the family and trying a few different items on the menu while we’re there, including the cheesecake. :)

What about you? Have you been? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our two daughters Emma (18) and Sarah (16). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999... which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which! The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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