Yesterday I met a wonderful woman who had stories to tell. I always try to respect people’s privacy, but I was so captivated that she and her late husband once owned the Town ‘N Country Restaurant on Carling and Richmond in Ottawa I had to write about it. At 90 years old this woman has more recollections than I do at 65, and she captivated me in the short time we spoke.
In days gone by there were not many ‘good’ & affordable restaurants in Ottawa and the Town ‘N Country Restaurant was indeed a restaurant on the ‘edge of town’. But where else would your server give you swizzle sticks for your Shirley Temples, or enjoy a Mickey Mouse ice cream Sundae, even if it wasn’t always on the menu.
Even if the Town ‘N Country Restaurant was demolished in 1978 it will still be memories of the place to go for special occasions. It was fondly nicknamed to some the “Green Valley West” with its white linen, dark wood, and very good food.
All sorts of special dinners and events took place here over the years. The restaurant was frequently used for meetings and receptions of all kinds and Chicken Kiev and the French Onion Soup was something to remember.
I asked her yesterday what the most popular thing she served at the Town & Country Restaurant and she didn’t miss a beat and said quite emphatically,
“The roast beef!”
According to the newspaper archives the prime rib was indeed the best in the area and for some it was the very place they enjoyed their first lobster meal. Did you know in the 1950s former world heavyweight boxing legend Joe Louis would come to Ottawa as a celebrity judge or referee and he would insist on coming here for the chicken livers which he said were the best in the world. I had no idea about that tidbit but she told me she had quite the hand in the menu. She would try dishes at home and then ask the chef if he would try out her recipe for the restaurant. Chefs today are finicky about advice but she told me in those days they put all her dishes on the menu. After all she said, you had to have what people wanted and if it wasn’t on the menu they would go elsewhere.
Along with the the beautiful needlework portraits of old “Quebecois” characters that hung on the dining room walls there was that Duck a L’orange everyone talked about right down to the beloved foot long hot dogs.
Even though a Shopper’s Drugmart has replaced what was once Ottawa’s dining history we must remember that memories are special moments that share our history. Yesterday this woman gave me 100 feelings, a 1000 thoughts and a 100 memories. Today I was able to document a little Town ‘N Country Restaurant history– as even though she was a stranger, in reality we are all strangers with memories.
Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown Ne