After work one day Hubby and I met up with a couple friends with the idea that we would head out for drinks and maybe a small bite to eat. We ended up at the Black Thorn, a restaurant that hubby and I had been to for dinner previously and I had loved. Since then I know they have had some staff changes – but one thing remains the same, a wonderful patio! In the end we ended up having dinner – here is what I found.   

Price – Quite in line with Ottawa’s bistro prices – diner can cost you anywhere from $15 for pasta to around $30 for steak. Drinks are well priced, in fact it was $5 martini night when we arrived on what I believe was a Thursday.   

Ambiance – The Black Thorn is in a lovely historic old home with exposed brick, lots of windows and hardwood everything. It’s gorgeous and elegant, but great for a casual drink as well. No need to dress up, but if you like to get a little fancy you wont feel out of place. At night when all the candles are lit, it is very romantic.  

Menu Options – Here is where I have an issue. They have so much to pick from for dinner that the first time I went I was unable to pick for almost 15 minutes. All the entries sound amazing and many are made with great local ingredients and things like Free Run chickens which I really appreciate. However, when our evening started I was just looking for a drink and maybe an appetizer, assuming that a place with a happy hour drink special and fabulous patio would be able to deliver. I was wrong. The appetizers are almost the same price as getting a pasta course, but with much less food. And there really aren’t many options.

Food – The first time I went I had a chicken pasta that I raved about for many months. It was one of the main reasons I was recommending this restaurant to anyone looking for a nice night out. This time I had the spinach pasta, and was really disappointed. It was bitter and lacked flavour… well it lacked good flavour, there was plenty of bitter. But the drinks were good – I love any place that has beaus on tap, and hubby seemed to enjoy his meal alright.   

Overall – I have to take into account the two experiences I’ve had here. I know that with staff changes comes a learning curve and perhaps it was an off night at the Black Thorn. On my first visit I would have easily given it a 4.5 out of 5, but on this second try – one that I ended up apologizing to my friends for, I would have said 3 out of 5. In the end I’m giving it a 3.5 out of 5 stars with a promise that I will return to give it another chance in a couple of months. This time I will go in with less expectations and we’ll see what happens.