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James’s take: Oh, my effin’ god. Exploding now.

Every so often, I’ll accidentally come across something local that kinda makes me go holy crap the awesome. that sort of accidentally happened last weekend. Well, actually, it happened earlier last week, more or less–after a trip to starbucks. One of the folks what works there told May and I about a restaurant not far from there. It apparently only opened a few months ago. They call it the Big Rig Brewery. They make their own beer, plus you know everything in that restaurant’s pretty well made to order. May will probably come up with her own take on the place, but here’s what you’ll find right when you walk in.

From start to finish, awesome slaps you in the face ten-fold. First, and this is an unusual thing for an Ottawa area restaurant, you’re strongly recommended to make a reservation before you go. At first I scratched my head about that one. then we showed up. Oh, my everloving god, the packed. The place is huge, and still I swear it was nearly to capacity. They had decent music, when you could hear it. Just about everything at one point or another ended up played. The service was absolutely amazing, right from when we walked in. Which, if you do the foursquare thing, is quite consistent with what folks who went there before us were saying–yes, for the anti-foursquare types among you, that’s a plus in foursquare’s column, not that I use it very often. Within 10 minutes of getting seated, we had drinks on the way. And because their menu’s online–that’s a plus in just about any restaurant’s column if you’re me, we pretty much knew exactly what we wanted and had it ordered inside of 15. Which edges me towards what we went there for.

Pretty much all of their food has something to do with the beer they brew right there. Usually, if it’s not used to cook with, it’s a recommended pearing if you’re in the mood for something alcoholic. May doesn’t do beer, and I wasn’t in the mood, but that didn’t make their dinner choices any less brainmelty. Or mouthmelty, if you’d prefer. Almost every sauce, seasoning, breaded thing, and pretty much everything else had, if not as the base then as a somewhat minor ingredient, one of their lines of beer. Oh, and let’s not forget–the beer they cooked with was usually the one they’d recommend pearing with. which if I went that way would have probably made it awesome squared, but I’m not sure I could have handled that much awesome.

I’m not usually big on onion rings, but what the hell. I’m there for the food. So I had the onion rings. And holy effin’ crapcracker. Natch, they were beer-breaded. They also, I do believe, may have just made me reconsider my opinion on onion rings. Maybe. But only if I’m there. And only if they go with the rum and coke I chased them with.

I had that, and pasta, which was also freakin’ awesome aside from the lack of garlic bread–really, who doesn’t serve garlic bread with their pasta? I think, though I’ll have to review it, their pasta was one of the very few dishes that didn’t actually use any of their beers as an ingredient. Still, it was wicked enough on its own. I very nearly required a forklift to get me out the door. So of course that meant I had to try dessert. For the record, apple pie goes just fine with rum and coke, thank you. It did nothing to help my requirement of a forklift, but you’ll have that.

Here’s the thing about that restaurant. Yes, we knew what we wanted, more or less. But here’s why it took us 15 minutes to actually get it ordered. Their menu is effin’ deadly. I mean that. It’ll run you over, then turn around to make sure you haven’t moved. We knew what we wanted, but there were about a dozen possibilities between the two of us. so figuring out exactly what we wanted on this particular visit was, well, kind of fun. In a “let’s split your brain in 6 different directions” kind of way. And if/when we go back there again, there’ll probably be twice the breakage. If only because I’m pretty sure we missed a page or two when browsing the menu the first time.

If you’re in the Ottawa area and looking to find somewhere to eat, drink and be merry, the Big Rig Brewery is on Iris street, just behind the Ikea–it’s the only Ikea in Ottawa, so if you can find that, you can find the place. Now here’s the thing. Yes, the food is absolutely awesome. The beer probably is too. But you get what you pay for. So you might want to make sure you’re not gonna run the risk of going broke if you decide to take an evening and go have a little something. But if you do decide to go, it’s well worth it. Oh, but if you’re a foursquare user and you glom on to the mayorship before May does, I’ll just leave the two of you alone for a few minutes. The winner can find me later–I’ll be at the bar, likely enjoying my third rum and coke.

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