It’s been a long while since the Ottawa food scene has so hotly anticipated the opening of a new restaurant, but Gezellig (337 Richmond Road) was worth the wait!

(gah-zell-ig) Dutch adj. for convivial, cosy, or nice atmosphere,
but also belonging, general togetherness, or time spent with loved ones…

From Stephen Beckta and Chef Michael Moffatt (the duo behind Beckta and Play) comes a new venture that wants to be Westboro’s go-to neighbourhood restaurant. A place where you can relax at the end of a long day with family and friends. Where the food is as tasty as it is comforting.

White bean truffle spread

So far, I’d say they are doing a kick ass job. I went for lunch with some of the lovely ladies I work with and we were all happier than could be with our meals between the table of us we tried the mussels, the tagliatelle and the duck stew. Not to mention a few desserts including the infamous butterfinger (which is awesomeness in its purest form).

The restaurant itself is so much transformed from its former purpose (a bank), that if it weren’t for the vault in the basement (which is being used as a wine cellar) you wouldn’t believe that a space could be repurposed so beautifully. It’s bright, comfortable and elegant. Great place to bring a date, but an even better place to bring family and friends to enjoy a wonderful meal together.

I was so sorry I agreed to split this… so, so, sorry.

Much to my amazement, Chef Moffatt agreed to spend some time with me to talk about Gezellig, the restaurant business in Ottawa, and what little sleep he requires. Because he’s camera shy I agreed to stick to photos of the restaurant itself, but ladies do yourself a favour and google images of Chef Moffatt. You’re welcome.

Try as he might to distract me with those pretty blue eyes, I was still able to sputter out a few questions. I could try to pretend that I wrote down word for word what was said, but that’s just not true. So here is the summed up, in a nut shell version of our conversation. According to Chef, everyone deserves a great meal. And that’s what they plan to give their Westboro patrons every night. They truly want to be a neighbourhood restaurant where families come in every week or a few times a week. And luckily the neighbourhood is responding warmly. They are offering up feedback and suggestions so Gezellig can reach its potential.

There has been a few harsh words about Gezellig. But the truth is that they have just opened. And even though it is their third restaurant, every new opening had its own unique challenges. Chef says it took 5 years for Beckta to be exactly the kind of restaurant they wanted it to be. It took Play 2 years. It’s hoped that Gezellig will take even less time, but there are still some growing pains to be sure. On one hand having a reputation like Beckta’s and Moffatt’s means you aren’t given the leeway that many other opening restaurants are given. But on the other Moffatt says it is that reputation that pushes them to be better and to set their standards higher and higher.

What it boils down to is that they are here to make you happy, and they are good at what they do.

I’m already in love and hoping to be back soon.