Thankfully, pickled eggs have long since been dropped from the menu at Ottawa’s oldest surviving hotel, formerly known as The Albion Hotel.
The staple bar snack was served when the hotel’s tavern was a popular haunt for the legal community, as it was right across the street from the old courthouse and jail. The hotel, built in 1871, was also where juries were housed overnight when they were unable to finish their trial deliberations before midnight.
Today, those pickled eggs have long been replaced with more tasty dishes created by executive chef Jesse Bell, who’s been working diligently over the past year toward the opening of The Albion Rooms’ new Heritage Room Gastropub, located at the Novotel Ottawa on Nicholas Street.
On Thursday, it attracted a more diverse crowd for the official grand opening of the gastropub. Former politician-turned-diplomat Stéphane Dion, who’s a regular guest of the hotel, was there.
Other attendees included Mayor Jim Watson; Steve Ball, president of the Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association; Peggy DuCharme, executive director of the Downtown Rideau BIA; and Catherine Lindquist, executive director of the Council of Heritage Organizations in Ottawa.
Also spotted were chief executive Alexandra Badzak from the neighbouring Ottawa Art Gallery (it’s currently undergoing a beautiful new expansion slated for completion this fall), with Peter Honeywell, executive director of the Ottawa Arts Council.
Bringing some celebrity power to the event was Ottawa RedBlacks defensive lineman Nigel Romick, with his girlfriend, Melissa Lamb, from CTV Morning Live.
There to welcome everyone was Bruno Beaudoin, the general manager of Novotel. It’s owned by the multinational hotel group AccorHotels. He was joined by his energetic and engaging chef, who’s offering five-course table dinners, with wine pairings, every Saturday at 7 p.m. at the new gastropub.
“I’ve spent a lot of the last year really working with my team to create something unique, I believe, in this city,” Bell told the room. “I like to support the community in every way I can, and that’s where so much of my inspiration comes from.
“Every time I’m going through our local farmers’ market or I’m walking down the streets, I feel like I’m at home, I feel like Ottawa is the best place to be.”
The mayor presented Beaudoin with a framed certificate to commemorate the official opening of the hotel’s Heritage Room Gastropub. He then pulled from his catalogue of jokes his promise that the certificate is worth one-hour of free parking (that line never fails to get him big laughs). “Just put this on your dashboard and it expires at midnight tonight,” Watson quipped.