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Sweetgrass Reviews


Written by Aaron Shaw

Phoebe Taste Testing"Sweet" is in the name, but Sweetgrass Aboriginal Bistro is definitely about the savoury too. Billing itself as Ottawa's first and only restaurant featuring First Nations cuisine, it's the inspiration of chefs and owners Phoebe Sutherland and her husband Warren. The two honed their skills at the New England Culinary Institute and took over the locale of dessert purveyor Oh So Good on Murray Street.

The chefs worked for a time in Arizona, and that influence is reflected in the chipotle glazed salmon and Pueblo grilled smoked pork chop.



There is something about the opening of a new restaurant that fascinates and knowing that there are only two of these types of restaurant in Canada adds to that mystery.

The Sweetgrass Aboriginal Bistro, located at 108 Murray Street in Ottawa opened its doors at 5.30 pm on November 15 to become Canada's second aboriginal restaurant. (The other one is the Liliget Feast House in Vancouver)

The restaurant is located in the trendy Byward Market area of Ottawa. It has 57 seats and is decorated appropriately with aboriginal paintings and artifacts. There is even some very soft aboriginal music being provided for background to your meal. This provides a very pleasant ambience for one's meal.



"Sweetgrass hits the sweet spot"

10a.m. We catch Phoebe Sutherland on the phone, and she already sounds exhausted. Turns out, she’s been at the office since 5:30, taping a segment for the New RO’s morning show. Seems everyone wants a piece of wife-husband restaurateurs Phoebe and Warren Sutherland. Why? Two reasons: One, because their brainchild, Sweetgrass Aboriginal Bistro, is getting rave reviews, and two, because, well, aboriginal restaurants don’t pop up every day (theirs is only the second in Canada).

So how did Ottawa land Sweetgrass? Mainly because Phoebe, a Cree from James Bay in northern Quebec, grew up in the capital and knew the scene here well. She had long thought about opening up an aboriginal restaurant but first needed some background. And so followed the circuitous journey that ended at Sweetgrass.