Dining Out: At Hunter’s Public House, craft beers and deep-fried choices rule

Findlay Creek, the sprawling new development on Bank Street south of Leitrim Road, is most likely some years away from being a dining-out destination.

Ottawa’s more established suburbs have their special draws. I’d happily venture to the eastern edge of Orléans for some kebab-heavy Persian fare, or to St. Joseph Boulevard for excellent barbecue staples. In South March, there’s South Indian food worth the drive, plus classy small plates at Kanata’s biggest mall. But for now, in the mall that’s the commercial hub for Findlay Creek, familiar franchises reign.

The notable exception, though, is Hunter’s Public House, which opened in October 2016. I ate there there three times in the past week, and while the fare has been a little hit-and-miss, the restaurant does set the bar for what the fledgling neighbourhood offers for an agreeable, casual night out of food and drink.

Owned and operated by Charles and Amy MacInnis, the eatery has some clear focal points in terms of its offerings and ambience.

Craft beer is a big deal here, with an imposing chalk board showing scads of locally brewed choices, either on tap on in bottles or cans. Food-wise, the menu mixes snacks and appetizers that sometimes nod to the MacInnis’s East Coast roots, along with sandwiches, salads and assorted, occasionally beer-infused, mains, the most interesting of which were “copper-pot” stews.

Making a play for the hundreds of nearby families in Findlay Creek, the pub is large, high-ceilinged, brightly lit and child-friendly, with not just a kids’ menu but also Trivial Pursuit cards at the table and crokinole boards that come off the walls for games on Sunday afternoons. There are trivia nights on Thursdays and on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, live music wafts from the bandstand in the corner. A patio currently awaits springtime.

We were almost always pleasantly surprised by the starters here. Tops were tacos made with crisped, meaty slices of pork belly and hoisin and Sriracha sauces ($13), a respectable  transposition of the Asian pork belly buns that were popularized by Momofuku and then went viral.

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