Personally, I couldn’t disagree more.
You could definitely argue I have a bias, pledging allegiance to a city I’ve grown up in and love, but remember who hosted an absolutely wild NHL All-Star weekend last year? Notice how Ottawa is welcoming high-end U.S. retailer Nordstrom at the same time as Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver? And if you haven’t heard … Bieber is town.
Maybe in the past Ottawa was held back when it came to solidifying itself as a booming entertainment sector, but I know I’m not alone in the belief that that’s changing.
So, it was not as much of a surprise as an applauded addition when Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. decided to open their second ever location of the acclaimed Real Sports Bar & Grill in the Nation’s Capital.
However, with a capacity of almost 500, two levels, 82 beers on tap, 99 HD TVs, a 27 foot high-def screen that can be seen from any seat, and a central location in the hub of Ottawa’s nightlife district, it definitely does bring something completely unique to the city`s center.
Real Sports officially opened its doors Monday, and I have already been … twice.
What can you expect from a night out at the venue everyone in the 613 is talking about? A hospitable staff, lively atmosphere, surround sound, screens you can’t ignore and surprisingly, really great food that strays from traditional pub fare, without forgetting the classics.
On Tuesday, Kate & I sampled some of the most talked about appetizers – I was crazy about the Lime Salt Wings, while Kate’s favourite were the Chicken Lettuce Wraps. With NHL hockey on pause, we were less interested in what was on the larger than life screen in front of our barstools, and more intent on taking in the atmosphere, chatting with friends who were doing the same and sampling a few beverages (read: too many).
On a Thursday afternoon, the place was absolutely packed, with everyone from government workers, to university students – and curious young women – crossing the threshold to take a peek and cheer on some mid-day football.
And ladies, I can assure you, even if you’re not much of a sports fan, there’s plenty to like at this athletic mecca – like healthy food, cute bartenders and bumping beats in between plays.
When a manager asked Kate & I if we thought it would live up to the Toronto hype, our answer was a resounding “yes”. In fact, in many ways these kinds of venues thrive in Ottawa. They become hubs where you can guarantee a good time and to run into a familiar face. Take something flashy, exciting and new to a city that really has nothing else like it, and you get a spot where you know you’ll be among friends. And, in a nutshell, I’d take that over being lost in the fray.
Real Sports Bar & Grill Ottawa is located at 90 George St. in the ByWard Market. For more information visit ottawa.realsports.ca.