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Ottawa

Contemporary Cuisine at Courtyard Restaurant

Situated in a historic building in the heart of the ByWard Market, Courtyard Restaurant serves up contemporary Canadian cuisine with international flavours.

Situated in a historic building in the heart of the ByWard Market, Courtyard Restaurant serves up contemporary Canadian cuisine with international flavours.

In the heart of the ByWard Market, the Courtyard Restaurant has been serving fine contemporary cuisine for over 30 years. Housed in a handsome limestone building that dates back to 1837, the restaurant exudes a comfortable, yet refined, ambience that is matched by chef Ian Reed’s menu. Here, you’ll find beautifully plated wild boar, pan roasted Pacific halibut, and bacon-wrapped elk striploin. —Amy Allen
•21 George St., 613-241-1516, courtyardrestaurant.com 
Map and reviews

Ottawa Weekend Calendar for Dec. 19 to 21

Singer-songwriter David Myles performs new and classic Christmas songs at the National Arts Centre. (Photo: Hiep Vu)

Singer-songwriter David Myles performs new and classic Christmas songs at the National Arts Centre. (Photo: Hiep Vu)

Friday, Dec. 19

In Freezing, a special holiday performance presented at the Gladstone, the lovable characters that populate the Snow Globe Kingdom work together to defeat the evil Hans, who threatens peace and stability in the realm. Complete with singing, dancing, and lots of humour, it’s great fun for the whole family. Tickets are $42.

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5 Vegetarian Restaurants in Ottawa

BY AMY ALLEN

This hearty chili is just one of many tasty vegan dishes on offer at SimplyRaw Express. (Photo: Courtesy of SimplyRaw Express)

This hearty chili is just one of many tasty vegan dishes on offer at SimplyRaw Express. (Photo: Courtesy of SimplyRaw Express)

In this day and age, plenty of restaurants include at least one vegetarian item on the menu. But wouldn’t it be nice to sit down at a place where the entire menu caters to those who have foregone meat altogether? Well, never fear — the Ottawa region has plenty of delicious options for vegans and vegetarians.

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Rustic Charm at MeNa

MeNa serves up elegant, French-inspired cuisine in a cozy, rustic setting.

MeNa serves up elegant, French-inspired cuisine in a cozy, rustic setting.

Named for owner Bryan Livingston’s wife, MēNa serves French-inspired cuisine in a cozy setting. With an emphasis on small menus and portions, the restaurant delivers such delicious options as lamb leg, arctic char, pork shoulder, beef flank, and corn flan with gnocchi. They also have a sommelier on hand to explain the wine menu and make pairing suggestions. —Amy Allen
•276 Preston St., 613-233-6462, menarestaurant.com

Game, Set, Match: Real Sports Bar and Grill

Real Sports is a great place to take in the big game, or just kick back and relax with friends.

Real Sports is a great place to take in the big game, or just kick back and relax with friends.

Take in the big game at Real Sports Bar & Grill, where sporting events are displayed on a 27-foot big screen and 99 additional HD televisions. Part sports bar, part lounge, it’s the perfect place to not only catch the game on the big screen, but also catch up with friends. The extensive menu boasts traditional and upscale bar fare, and the patio and second floor terrace offer the opportunity to kick back and relax. —Amy Allen
•90 George St., 613-680-7325, realsports.ca/barandgrill
Map and reviews

Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo

Little Ray's has over 150 animals on display, including alligators, pythons, cobras, rattlesnakes, and more. (Photo: Matthew Belyea/MTKS Adventures)

Little Ray’s has over 150 animals on display, including alligators, pythons, cobras, rattlesnakes, and more. (Photo: Matthew Belyea/MTKS Adventures)

With the cooling weather, consider cozying up to some of the world’s cold-blooded creatures. Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo is the largest reptile rescue group in Canada, and displays over 150 live animals every day, including alligators, cobras, giant pythons, and rattlesnakes. The zoo is heavily invested in animal education and outreach, and has 25 permanent exhibits along with 20 feature exhibits that rotate every six months. —Amy Allen
•Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo, 5305 Bank St., 613-822-8924. raysreptiles.com
Map and reviews

Breeding Champions at the Canadian Museum of History

Breeding Champions explores the life of E.P. Taylor, whose prize racehorse Northern Dancer captured the Kentucky Derby. (Photo: Tony Leonard)

Breeding Champions explores the life of E.P. Taylor, whose prize racehorse Northern Dancer captured the Kentucky Derby. (Photo: Tony Leonard)

Canadian business magnate E.P. Taylor was a prolific man. He launched his career by building the largest brewing company in the world and went on to become a famous breeder of thoroughbred racehorses. His stallion Northern Dancer was the first Canadian-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby. Breeding Champions, an ongoing exhibition at the Canadian Museum of History, explores how Taylor built his stable, Windfields Farm, and became one of the best breeders in the world. On display until Jan. 18, 2015. —Amy Allen
•Canadian Museum of History, 100, rue Laurier, Gatineau, 819-776-7000. historymuseum.ca
Map and reviews

Northern Exposure: Arctic Voices

How much do you really know about the Arctic? This exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Nature will challenge your perceptions about Canada's northern ecosystem.

How much do you really know about the Arctic? This exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Nature will challenge your perceptions about Canada’s northern ecosystem.

There’s more to the Arctic than meets the eye. It’s not a barren wasteland of ice and snow; it’s home to a surprising diversity of wildlife and many different indigenous groups. Through photographs, videos, specimens, and interactive experiences, visitors to Arctic Voices will challenge their perceptions about the Arctic and discover the ecological impact this remote northern region has on the entire planet. On view at the Canadian Museum of Nature from Dec. 5 until April 30, 2015. —Amy Allen
•Canadian Museum of Nature, 240 McLeod St., 613-566-4700. nature.ca
Map and reviews

Lifecycles: Meaghan Haughian at La Petite Mort Gallery

Meaghan Haughian's mixed media art explores the dualities of life. (Photo: Tom Evans)

Meaghan Haughian’s mixed media art explores the dualities of life. (Photo: Tom Evans)

Meaghan Haughian’s art is simultaneously personal and universal. She uses old family photographs as the basis of each work, which lends her pieces an autobiographical element. The themes she explores, however, tackle much broader issues, such as the cyclical nature of life, history, identity, and memory. On at La Petite Mort Gallery from Dec. 5 to Jan. 4, 2015. —Amy Allen
•La Petite Mort Gallery, 306 Cumberland St., 613-860-1555. lapetitemortgallery.com
Map and reviews

Lovely Lyrics With Alejandra Ribera

Alejandra Ribera performs at the National Arts Centre on Dec. 6.

Alejandra Ribera performs at the National Arts Centre on Dec. 6.

DEC. 6 Alejandra Ribera’s sound is difficult to define. She first captured public attention in 2009 with the release of her debut album, Navigator, Navigather, which was comprised mainly of untamed, Latin-styled music. Now, she’s back with album number two, La boca, and it’s a more mature, deliberate offering. While it retains some of its Latin influences, Ribera also sings in French and, primarily, English. —Amy Allen
•National Arts Centre, Studio, 53 Elgin St., 888-991-2787. nac-cna.ca
•Map and reviews

Christmas Events in Ottawa: 9 Must-See Performances

The Alberta Ballet's production of The Nutcracker is sure to delight. (photo: Darren Makoivichuk)

The Alberta Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker is sure to delight. (Photo: Darren Makoivichuk)

Christmas only comes once a year, and with it, some truly spectacular, entertaining, and engaging holiday shows. Here are some of our picks for the season’s best performances.

THE NUTCRACKER
December 3 to 7
A Christmas classic, The Nutcracker returns to the National Arts Centre courtesy of the Alberta Ballet. With exquisitely painted backdrops and bejeweled costumes, the company brings Tchaikovsky’s timeless masterpiece to life. From $25.
•National Arts Centre, Southam Hall, 53 Elgin St., 888-991-2787, nac-cna.ca 

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What to Do in Ottawa: Can’t Miss Events in December

The National Arts Centre English Theatre performs Alice Through the Looking Glass. (Photo: David Krovblit)

The National Arts Centre English Theatre performs Alice Through the Looking Glass. (Photo: David Krovblit)

Come December, the city’s stages play host to an assortment of holiday-themed acts. But fear not — there are plenty of non-Christmassy shows to catch if you’re not feeling the holiday spirit quite yet. (Come back on Monday for a roundup of our can’t-miss holiday events!)

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