This fall, we went on a search for Ottawa’s next Foodie Blogger, and we found her! Sylvie Hill is an energetic local who is passionate about food and writing. Here’s what she had to say about her experience at The Fish Market Restaurant.

Succulent seafood so fresh, I can hear the crash of waves…

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One of the reasons I entered the Fish Market, Coasters Seafood Grill and Vineyards Wine Bar Bistro contest to become their Project Food Blogger 2012, aside from being a foodie, was because this long-running trio of restaurants excels where a couple of other popular ByWard Market restaurants failed me, in my opinion.

It’s obvious how Fish Market owner, Barbara Mireault, is deserving of the Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2011. Let’s put it this way: her dedication to service excellence shows among her attractive crew of managers and supervisor(s). And they serve superior seafood.

Here, it’s style and substance.

I’m sentimental about the Fish Market Restaurant. When my father used to come to town from Toronto to visit my sister and I, he’d take us here for seafood! At only eight years old, I knew my bream from my cod and my mollusks from my crustaceans. I always chose crab.

Being back at the Fish Market returned me to that home-like feel, which hasn’t changed a bit. It’s the wood. The nautical and marine theme, evidently. The candles. It’s that Barbara the Owner has been a part of the Fish Market when they had a location in Windsor! At 17, she started out as a waitress. Consistency, top-notch service and class in a relaxed setting, this Fish Market. It’s a perfect place for a long family dinner, a romantic meal, or flying solo as we saw one man seated next to us with a Corona, his meal and a Kindle. (I’m definitely going back to fly solo with some Cajun salmon, a Corona and a real book!)

For my purposes on a Tuesday night, it was a very welcome, cozy place to kick back with my manager, and my Ottawa and Montreal work colleagues. We work in communications (technology) for the federal government. We needed a place to regroup, relax and eat after relentless learning and networking at what was starting off as a week- long conference just down the road at the Convention Centre.

I wouldn’t be telling you about the service, ambience and how the positive memories endear me to the Fish Market if the food was rubbish. It was fresh. It was wonderful.

We started with bread baked especially for the restaurant with a humus spread and special oil dipping, seasoned with fennel and other herbs, which is Ms. Barbara the Owner’s secret recipe. It works. With a glass of Pinot Grigio from California, recommended to us by André, the Supervisor, the night was off to a great start.

Well, along with the wine and bread, we moved to a generous heap of Prince Edward Island mussels in a light-leek sauce and, of course—the famous crabcakes. The mussels were meaty, almost earthy tasting. As a mate suggested: “Might you have heard the crash of waves as you ate one, Sylvie?” Why yes: That fresh. I enjoyed a half-dozen PEI

oysters, all by myself, and very much to my satisfaction. If you’re looking to enjoy fresh oysters in a more-relaxed setting than cramped, loud oyster bars, this is your place.

For the main, our team’s manager, Ms Kathryn, had one-dozen butterflied shrimp with fresh crabmeat stuffing full of fresh herbs and garlic bread crumbs. Ms Nancy took the shrimp and scallop entrée with red peppers, fine herbs and garlic butter. And, Ms Karen chose the Cajun salmon salad entrée for her main that was decorated in pear slices, dried cranberries and candied walnuts tossed in a house vinaigrette. I tried Nancy’s scallops, which were cooked beautifully, not a second too long in the pan. I found the coating on the breaded shrimp a bit fluffy, but then again, I take my shrimp cold or as nigiri. The ladies enjoyed their meals immensely, commenting on the freshness and the ideal size of portions. We felt our Atlantic-region colleague, a real Maritimer who was unable to make it down, would approve!

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My main—surprise, surprise—was one and a half pounds of large Queen Crab Legs, steamed. The entrée came with garlic mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables glazed in a sweet sauce. When I cracked apart that crustacean, BEHOLD!—long, sweet, tender tubes of delicious, fresh crabmeat sprouted from broken legs ready to be pulled, and devoured, but only after a faint brush of drawn-butter dip. Mmmm! I was a half hour behind the rest of the ladies, cracking away, but I’m also known for taking forever at restaurants. No matter, more wine, and it all helped the girls make room for dessert!

By dessert time, we made room for the Dolce Vita Chocolate Cake, absolutely full of fudgy layers of dark chocolate and expresso mousse in a dark chocolate glaze. We also shared the wild raspberry cheesekcake where, true to the menu, pockets of blended raspberries really did peek—and seep—out of a creamy cheesecake, sitting on a two-tone crust. What I appreciated was the richness without the candy-bar sweetness you find in cheap desserts.

Thanks to Barbara for stopping by, and for André’s personable and professional service. I was also lucky to meet the very beautiful managers, Jaden and Ashley. Something tells me that you don’t need to be a contest winner to be treated like a prize here. Well worth the money for quality, and a very special night out.

Fun Fact: when Platinum Blonde was in town recently, they chose to eat at the Fish Market then cozy on down to Vineyards for drinks. The restaurants are not unknown, I’m told, to celebrities!

If you would like to see more pictures, please click here to go to Sylvie Hill’s Blog.