05 June 2009

Dinner Out in the Other Capitale nationale

I am in Ottawa for two days for a meeting and had the pleasure of dining with a friend this evening. We went to a place quite close to the Château Laurier, much bigger than it looks from the outside, and quite lovely. (Below is the Château Laurier, and the restaurant was built in the construction zone seen in the bottom centre-right of the photo.)

The waiter working the section next to ours was quite lovely – tall, shaved head, very good shape – and we were both as pleased as anything that he was at the door when we left, opened the door for us and shook our hands on the way out. I guess he must have noticed that our eyes followed him every time he walked by our table to wait on the tables in his section. ;-)

Something I found quite shocking about the experience of going to this restaurant here was the apparent lack of ability of the staff to speak much French at all. I asked for our table in French and was responded to in English, our waitress spoke to us only in English, and it continued in that vein. (Notice how I didn’t complain about the lovely waiter’s wishing us well in English on our way out – *blush*!) Really, though, we are in the Capital of a supposedly bilingual country, not far away from the border of the big French-speaking province, and the staff of a business catering to travelers and locals alike is unable to function in the other of the official languages? That is truly a shame.

But if that waiter wants French lessons, I’m sure that either I or my friend would be happy to oblige.


Tom Gaylord said...

I LOVED Canada so much when I was there.... it was so strange elaving Vancouver and arriving in Montreal to 'Bonjour'..... whilst being in the same country.... it's enchanting! (well, except your restaurant! hehe)

Ken Monteith said...

Well, I do have to say that waiter was mighty enchanting, and he didn't really even have to say a word. (I was going to say he wouldn't have to open his mouth, but, well, I thought better of that one.)