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Appetite for Ottawa: With Milestones Grill + Bar headed to Quebec, Mike Cohen provides a sneak peek

    When Montreal-based Foodtastic purchased the Milestones Grill + Bar restaurant chain ( last summer, with plans to finally debut franchises in Quebec, I got pretty excited.

    Foodtastic, a highly successful multi-brand restaurant company, is owned by brothers Lawrence and Peter Mammas.

    Lawrence Mammas tells me that the first Milestones restaurants in our province will open in Laval and the West Island in the fall of 2022.  So in the meantime head down Highway 417 where there are four locations in Ottawa. Milestones has been a leader in the casual fine-dining space in Canada for over 30 years by doing things a bit differently.  Its menu includes various burgers, steaks and pasta dishes, assorted happy-hour fare and a kids selection.

    Unquestionably, Milestones has always been a favourite place of mine when travelling in British Columbia and Ontario. Rather than wait for their first locale to open here, my family and I got a sneak peek on what to expect by experiencing the fine Milestones cuisine at the Ottawa Pinecrest location, complete with curbside pickup and located right off Highway 417 in a mall anchored by IKEA.

    Roasted mushroom soup.

    We were extremely pleased with our Milestones experience. I arranged the pickup for 6 pm. Tyler, the manager on duty, had everything ready for me and perfectly packaged. All menus include the calorie count for each item. I started with a bowl of roasted mushroom soup, which was still piping hot 15 minutes later when I arrived at my daughter’s apartment with the order. When the pandemic started and take-out and delivery picked up steam, staffers did a lot of testing on packaging just to make sure they got it right.

    Spinach and Artichoke Dip.

    The ladies shared two appetizers : crispy Brussels sprouts (vegan) and spinach and artichoke dip. The former was rated “beyond outstanding.” The pan seared Brussels sprouts, with roasted peppers, onions, vegan margarine and chili avocado aioli dip, literally tasted like candy. I sampled a few and let me just say how delighted I would be to get that recipe so I could make anything closely resembling this creation at home. The dip contained Italian style cheeses, fresh cut salsa and  tortilla chips.

    BBQ Ribs.

    For the main course, I jumped at the opportunity to have some BBQ Back Ribs. These pork ribs come with Bulleit bourbon bbq sauce, cajun fries and dill avocado slaw. I substituted the fries for rice. The ribs rolled off the bone like butter and were perfectly prepared.

    My daughter chose the Caprese Crispy Chicken Sandwich, containing mozzarella, provolone, spiced tomato pepper sauce, arugula, red onion, basil pesto and garlic cream sauce, between an egg bun. She also had side Caesar salad and was extremely pleased with her choices. My wife opted for the eight ounce grilled sirloin steak, which was cooked to perfection. It came with seasonal vegetables and roasted potatoes.

    Grilled Sirloin.

    There were some tempting dessert options we will explore on our next visit. You can also order gluten friendly items.

    Needless to say, we definitely recommend this dining establishment and anxiously await its debut in the Montreal area.

    Foodtastic purchased Milestones from  Recipe Unlimited, owner of fast-casual and dining chains such as Swiss Chalet, The Keg, Harvey’s, St-Hubert and Montana’s,  last June. The Milestones chain has locations in British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Ontario. 

    “This acquisition is consistent with our strategy of acquiring quality Canadian brands with growth potential, and we are excited to introduce Milestones to the Quebec market,” Peter Mammas said.

    Chris Lovelace, the regional operations manager for Milestones locations in Eastern Ontario and New Brunswick, agrees that Quebecers will embrace the brand when it arrives. His family has roots in the Montreal area so he hopes to be part of the team that works on the openings.

    “Quebecers have always been trendsetters,” said Lovelace. “Milestones will be a big success there. Customers appreciate our menu, with all of the fresh ingredients. There is a little bit of everything. We are in the people business.”

    Lovelace notes that many of the newer items on the menu actually came from staff suggestions. “That is the kind of restaurant brand we are,” he said. “So we are the perfect fit for a company like Foodtastic.”

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    Mike Cohen

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