Mill Street Ottawa it's not me, it's you.


They say that presentation is everything. Most people would agree that if something looks good, it usually is good. But how you present, shouldn’t be all you're striving for. There has to be a solid base to back up a great presentation, a real dedication to the product you’re putting forth. Presentation can be everything, but shouldn’t be the only thing.
I recently had an opportunity to drop in at the Mill Street Brew Pub Ottawa. I had been there before but this time I went with the express intention of stopping to smell the roses. I think the first two times I went I was so awe struck by the place I didn’t take the opportunity to really enjoy it. This is an establishment that takes the precepts of great presentation to new heights. The Brew Pub opened this year, in what was once a pulp mill, just off the Ottawa River. It’s a fantastic location and a beautiful building. I am a fairly big Mill Street fan and was very pleased to hear they had opened up an establishment in Ottawa. It’s a nice blend of rustic and modern inside, and has a serious cool factor about it.  There is a fantastic glass enclosure in the center of the building where you can see the burnished copper of the brew house and admire the several gleaming vats of their in-house brewing operations. The menu is fairly standard pub food with a few stand outs like pulled chicken poutine, port steak salad and brewery tourtiere. All the menu items are prepared with Mill Street beer so they do try their best to sew it all together. The wait staff were helpful and courteous and did try to help me out with my beer choices, though suggesting the seasonal offerings seemed to be their “go to” when making suggestions. As some of you may know by now, beer is my major concern, so I took a moment away from my musings on the establishments other offerings and got down to beer business. I studied their beer list and was frankly a little underwhelmed. I didn’t see anything that really got my beer brain excited. When coming to a destination spot, like a brew Pub, I’m often looking for, and expecting, something special. I want something I can’t get at the LCBO. I want something that peaks my curiosity, something unique. Sadly, in this case, I found nothing to stimulate my barley senses. I settled on their seasonal Frambozen and found it decent but unmemorable (I’ll let the boys who do the beer reviews give you the skinny on this). After the Frambozen I decided to mix things up, literally, and ordered a flight. The flight was reasonably priced and allowed me to give a few old favourites a run around my taste buds. I should point out that the Ottawa Mill Street Brew Pub does brew 3 Ottawa specific beers: Amber de la Chaudiere, Irish Valley Red and Portage Ale. These have all been available in mixer packs at the LCBO from time to time. The Amber de la Chaudiere is quite good, with great flavour but the other two did not register on my “gotta have it” list. I was thoroughly disappointed to find out they did not have their new Brown Ale on tap as I had tried it at another Ottawa establishment earlier in the week and loved it.
All in all, once I took the time to sit back and look past all the glitter I found the Mill Street Brew Pub was trying a little too hard. They put on a good show, but couldn’t really back it up. The beer is cold, the food is decent and the service is standard, but the whole package was a bit of a let down. Sure it’s flashy and did a few things very well but I found the follow through lacking. You want to showcase what you’ve got, not gloss it over with a few fancy tricks. Mill Street is a fantastic organization and brews some of the best craft beer out there. They should focus on that, not on all the glitz and glam.