Celebrating the holidays with the return of in-person dining
By Andre R. Gagne (This article appeared in the December 2021 edition of the New Edinburgh News)
With the holidays just around the corner and some of the pandemic restrictions being removed, especially with regard to gathering limits, there is cause for much comfort and joy. Many are looking forward to having Grandma, a dozen cousins and Uncle Marv over again for turkey and all the trimmings, but those still not ready for crowded homes (or maybe you just don’t want to cook) can also rejoice. Some New Edinburgh restaurants have tantalizing festive delights ready to serve and we aren’t just talking about milk and cookies.
“We love the holiday season here at Fraser, and that certainly reflects in our festive décor, ambiance, and menu. Every year we set up our little Christmas tree, hang snowflakes, and play seasonal music,” says Thessaly Lloyd, general manager at Fraser. “Our menu always features seasonal items, and we have fun getting playful with our cocktails to reflect the holidays.” Case in point: in early December, the “Snow Ball” and “Blitzen” cocktails top the drinks menu, while the lunch and dinner food menus feature traditional Christmas ingredients including Brussels sprouts and squash, as well as winter warmers like pot-au-feu (a short-rib stew).
In-person dining has resumed at Fraser, with the standard public health rules in play: contact tracing, vaccine passports, and masks required when guests are away from their table, Thessaly notes. The restaurant is hoping their dry-aging program for their steaks, a first for Fraser, is a mouth-watering lure as well as other items served in generous portions.
“Our portions, flavour, and quality are unmatched, and our Christmas Takeaway menu is no exception,” beams Thessaly as she recounts the offerings available at Fraser’s takeaway business. “It is the perfect option for anyone who is looking for a delicious and carefully prepared meal boasting many seasonal favourites. With detailed reheating instructions included, it is a superb choice for a quick and simple holiday dinner! It has been a tough year, but you’ve all made it possible for us to continue on, and we are incredibly grateful!” Fraser Restaurant, Takeaway & Bottle Shop is at 7 Springfield Rd. Contact 613-749-1444 or frasercafe.ca.
Over at the Clocktower Brew Pub at 422 MacKay St., they just couldn’t wait! Forget the 12 Days of Christmas, they started decorating in November. This being the first holiday season in two years, general manager Manny Garcia is especially excited to have guests back inside for parties and family gatherings.
“We are gearing up to have a busy, fun Christmas Season. We want to be everyone’s Christmas destination where you can meet up with long-time friends or family and have some Christmas cheer,” says Manny, adding that his favourite part of the season is seeing everyone either wearing Christmas sweaters or Santa hats, some even exchanging gifts right there in the pub.
A personal tradition is that before closing up early on Christmas Eve, Manny nips over to Mario’s Food Centre on McArthur Avenue to purchase some Portuguese treats for their everyday regulars as well as his staff.
This year, there’s a new brew on the menu!
“We have a very nice seasonal beer called Billy Goat Brew. It’s an Espresso White Stout. We collaborated with local coffee company Happy Goat Coffee.”
Clocktower staff are grateful to be continuing their Winter Jacket Program for a third year in which, on a coatrack outside of the pub, jackets for all ages and sexes are left for the less fortunate. They welcome donations.
“As a fixture of New Edinburgh for the past decades we truly feel part of the fabric of this wonderfully unique neighbourhood,” says Manny. “We are so fortunate to be able to serve such great guests, many who feel like family. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Holidays to everyone.” Find the Clocktower Brew Pub at 422 MacKay St. Call 613-742-3169 or clocktower.ca.