Hidden Gem Restaurant Review, The Grilled Tomato 70 Bongard Ave., Ottawa

Last week, I was visiting Ottawa for a string of meetings and decided to reroute my last morning meeting to a restaurant. One of my commitments for 2023 was to network more and I always find a sit-down experience to be a bit more impactful. Because I was already at Collabspace – a great coworking and event space that you should definitely check out if you’re in the area – I landed on The Grilled Tomato, a little Mediterranean restaurant tucked in a side door of the same building. 

I went in near the end of what would normally be “lunch hour” and it was bustling! Despite being so busy, everyone seemed to be getting their food quickly and the “regulars” seemed very happy to be there. I took a look at the menu and was delighted to see that there were several things that I could eat on mt stupidly restrictive anti-inflammatory diet. I ordered the falafel – oh, how I love falafel – aaaand they were completely sold out! I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s because they’re so delicious that they disappear long before the end of the day.

With falafel not an option, I ordered a salad and the lovely, friendly lady at the cash register convinced me to add a grilled chicken skewer on top. After a short wait (they really were an efficiency machine) my food arrived and I took a bite into my chicken skewer and promptly declared, out loud, “OH MY GOSH! THIS IS SO GOOD.” Don’t worry, the lunch crowd had cleared out my this time and only the staff was on hand to hear my outburst.

This expression of gratitude for my food prompted a conversation with the owner who was absolutely delightful and chatted with me about future plans for menu, decor, and more. I raved about the chicken being, perhaps, the best chicken I have ever eaten (the salad was delicious too). He told me the process for making those skewers taste as heavenly as they do and you could feel his love for what he does.

Shortly after, my meeting guest, Randy (the fellow who inspired me to be involved in Tower Gardens) arrived and ordered hummus topped with prime rib and, yes, it sounded like it was just as good as my magical chicken. I have no doubt that everything on their menu is of the same high standard.

The Grilled Tomato is an excellent example of the value in being a bit spontaneous. I had no intention whatsoever to go there when my day started. I even bought snacks so I wouldn’t have to stop for lunch. I have seen this restaurant many, many times but today it called to me. I answered that call, and I’m so delighted that I did.


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