Dining Out: The Jack Ketch in Stittsville riffs on British fare in a cosy setting

The Jack Ketch
1536 Stittsville Main St., Stittsville, 613-831-2624,
Open: Tuesday 5 to 11 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday 11:30 a.m. to midnight, Saturday 5 p.m. to midnight, Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., closed Monday
Prices: appetizers $6 to $13, mains $18 to $26
Access: steps to entrance on the side of the building

This year, I’ve had more good meals than usual in Ottawa’s suburbs. I’d happily send you to Orléans for Persian dishes at Persis Grill, Portuguese food at Caravela or barbecue fare at Meatings. It’s hard to top the South Indian cuisine and small plates that the Kanata restaurants Flavours of Kerala and Aperitivo respectively serve.

I hoped for similar satisfactions in Stittsville at the Jack Ketch, which opened Oct. 21 on Stittsville Main Street. After a lunch and a dinner there, I definitely see its potential. But I also think a few tweaks would improve some dishes.

Behind this cosy place of less than 30 seats are chef Kevin Conway and server Allison Pearce — and as far as I can tell, that’s it. Kudos to Conway, who is from Stittsville and has cooked in Toronto and at Social, MeNa and Whalesbone in Ottawa, for launching a more personal, smaller-scale gastropub-style eatery in his home town.

The Jack Ketch is a narrow, simple place that gives visitors a view of Conway working in its modest kitchen as soon as they enter. There’s a wee bar of just a few seats, and beside it the grey-blue walled dining area with its wood banquette along one wall. There are some small paintings on the walls. I didn’t look too closely, but the impression I got was that fortunately, the ambience did not nod overly to the eatery’s notorious namesake — an English executioner of the 1600s who, as the stories go, was too incompetent to dispatch his victims quickly and made a gory, painful mess of things.

More appealingly, the connection to England pops up on Conway’s menu in some smaller dishes that we’ve had and enjoyed. The slab of pork pie ($12) that we tucked into as an appetizer was a spot-on delicious, meaty indulgence with a rich, melting crust. More pork pie is probably what I’d be most craving on my next trip to Stittsville.

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