Lavender Grill and Lounge opened in the Byward Market in the summer of 2022, the vision of owner Reza Khakbaz.
Lavender, of course, is a light shade of purple or violet. It applies particularly to the color of the flower of the same name. Khakbaz and his team have certainly taken advantage of the connection, from the décor to the coloring of some of the drinks like my blackberry smash tea mocktail, a combination of blackberry and Earl Grey tea,
There are 100 seats inside the restaurant and a lovely terrace which can accommodate 20. That is where we sat. The menu contains a touch of Dubai and Iran, two countries where Khakbaz has lived. But make no mistake, the items to choose from are all very familiar from steaks to pasta.
Khakbaz has lived in Dubai since 2001 and now commutes back and forth. He obtained permanent residency in Canada in 2017 and from that point on he set about seeking a good business opportunity. Ottawa and the trendy Byward Market appeared to be calling his name. In the past, he was a partner in a pizzeria and a coffee shop. This represents his first full foray into restaurants and he has hit the ground running.
“When I moved to Canada in 2014, I lived in Ottawa for nearly four years,” said Khakbaz. “During that time, I found the ByWard Market area a popular destination where people spent time and money. Beyond its popularity, I also had a personal connection to Ottawa as it was the first point of entry for me and my family to Canada.”
How did Khakbaz come up with the Lavender theme and integrate it into so much of the menu and the restaurant design? “As a businessperson who has had the opportunity to travel worldwide and live in Dubai for many years, I noticed that lots of special restaurants gradually opened their branches there,” he responded. “Considering this, I believe the theme I have in mind can work for the area. Of course, we faced several challenges and various changes during the process. I want to thank my manager Hano. He has been a great asset, as he significantly helped us in finding the best theme and menu for Lavender.
Hano was there to give us a warm welcome when we arrived. When a chef brought out one of our items, I asked Hon for his name. “At Lavender Grill, we really rely on teamwork,” he responded. “All of our food and menu are results of the teamwork with direct supervision of myself, using my culinary experience in fine dining restaurants. So all dishes come from the Lavender Kitchen Team.”
What are the most popular menu items with clients? Hano lists Lavender gnocchi, Lavender ravioli, rib eye steak, grilled salmon and salmon tartare. As for the drinks, there are the Lavender Gin and Tonic, Lavender Mocktail, Sunset Boulevard, Lavender Royale and Kiwi Breeze
Business, says Hano, has been solid. “We are a fast-growing business,” he maintains. “It’s been six back-to-back months that we are breaking our sales records.”
We began our meal by sharing two bowls of delicious and piping-hot carrot soup among the three of us. That was followed by a bruschetta, which had a sturdy crust and was firm enough to hold the diced tomato and red onion toppings. We also split the salmon tartare, sushi-grade salmon with chopped shallots, chives, parsley, dill, capers, a splash of chardonnay, soya sauce, grainy mustard, tabasco, lemon and lime zest,
While I quenched my thirst with a mocktail (yep I am a safe driver), the two others enjoyed some Lavender royales, containing Saint Germain, London Dry, Crème de Violette and Prosecco.
For the main course, I went for the chicken parmesan, tenderized chicken breaded and fried, topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella. It was served with tomato pasta on the side. The portion was so plentiful that I brought back enough to eat for lunch the following day.
As for the others, they sampled the Lavender ravioli and the filet mignon. The four cheese ravioli was tossed in creamy Lavender sauce and mushrooms, with onions and garlic and topped with Lavender crumbs. The eight-ounce filet mignon was served with a side of vegetables and a garden salad. For dessert, we shared the chocolate explosion -chocolate cake, topped with chocolate sauce and blackberries.
Lavender Grill and Lounge is located at 47 Clarence Street. Opening hours are 5 pm to midnight Wednesday to Friday and 11:30 am to midnight Saturday and Sunday. For more information call 613-569-6605 or log on to www.lavendergrill.com