A tavern, such as JJ’s Pub in downtown Ottawa, doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to its food: Drinks and a great atmosphere will often bring in a crowd just as much as a robust menu.
However, this pub does excel at delicious food options that make it a welcome dining destination. The price of just $42 provided a substantial meal for three people, a surprisingly low price at a time when the cost of items seems to be going up.
The meal started with crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside pretzel bites that came with cheese sauce for dipping. It was the warm-up leading to the main course of two burgers and a Reuben sandwich.
The first burger was a traditional, half-pound, bacon-and-cheddar burger, with thick bacon smothered in cheese. The second selection was a Cowboy Burger served with cheese, barbecue sauce and an onion ring.
The Reuben sandwich stood out, in part, for its delectable sauerkraut. Whatever type of sauerkraut it is that JJ’s serves in its Reuben, it sets the standard in the Mystery Diner’s opinion.
JJ’s has a menu full of sandwiches, wings, chili, creative soups and other items.
With a few more weeks remaining in fall, JJ’s is a good spot for outdoor dining, just across from the Jordan block. For diners who prefer to stay indoors, JJ’s wood-paneled interior and floors give it an inviting, upscale bar feel.
There’s plenty of Chicago-area sports teams on the big screens and banter among the patrons to keep things loose, making it one of Ottawa’s best places to catch a game, especially when the Chicago teams are in playoff contention.
Overall, JJ’s Pub does exactly what it sets out to do: It provides reasonably priced, tasty bar food that doesn’t stray from the path. And it does so at what’s ultimately a good bar.
At a time when everyone feels the need to make a special blend seasoning for a burger splashed with garlic aioli and lime (and there is a time and place for that), it’s appealing to get a meal that’s satisfying based on its core ingredients, all the while pairing nicely with a cold drink.
• The Mystery Diner is an employee at Shaw Media. The diner’s identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a different restaurant and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a story.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: JJ’s Pub
WHERE: 104 W. Main St., Ottawa