By Paula Roy / Ottawa at Home
Major renovations have transformed a bland bank building on Richmond Road into a space that is drawing the hungry and the curious in equal measures.
But what about the chosen Dutch moniker?
“It is a word that speaks of conviviality, of gathering with loved ones in an atmosphere that is enjoyable and relaxing,” explains Mr. Beckta. “It evokes very much the spirit we hope to have created here.”
Designed as a neighbourhood restaurant, gezellig is all about fun and accessibility. The warm décor - which features wood accents and charcoal-coloured walls - and the uncomplicated menu creates an atmosphere that Mr. Beckta hopes will attract customers from his own Westboro community on a weekly basis.
“The menu is one page and changes at least once a week,” says Mr. Beckta. “It features things like sharing meals for two – it might be a whole roast chicken, roast bass or braised ribs, and then you get to choose your own side dishes. We want people to feel very much at home, not only with the space but also the food. Gezellig is not a special occasion or ‘destination’ restaurant the way Beckta might be for some.”
The restaurant is also home to the group’s first onsite bakery. Baker Nat Harera is now crafting delicious artisan breads for all three restaurants. Her creations include four varieties for Beckta, a rustic baguette for play - recently acknowledged by Maclean’s magazine as one of Canada’s top 50 restaurants - and then a flavourful sourdough boule for gezellig.