Thursday, 15 October 2009


Nestled in the borough of Ottawa known as Westboro, there is a former house that was built in the very early part of the last century. This house has been added onto, modified, and renovated into a busy and noisy pub ironically named Whispers.

Known as the "Friendliest Little Pub in Westboro," this pub is often busy. I mean real busy. After 4pm when everyone is getting off work, this place becomes packed and stays that way. I've driven past at midnight and the two patios are still rocking. The crowd is definitely mixed: seniors, bar flies, young people, couples, English, French etc etc etc., By the time the Sun has set, there is no way you can whisper if you want people to hear you. And forget talking when they have live bands.

As the place was a house, the eatery is split into different rooms and corridors for dinning. There's the bar room, the front left room, the back right room, and 2 outdoor patios. Oh and a recently added upstairs. And the front 'porch'. The room I sat in had maybe 10 tables inside, a fireplace, TV's and currently, Hallowe'en decs. The rooms are a mix of brick and wood, and decorations with local significance like an airplane propeller, and a bell to ring, which indicates you're buying the next round!

My waitress for the late afternoon was Dominique. She answered my questions about the wings and brought me refills on Pepsi unprompted. She gave me space, but was there when I needed her.

Confession: tonight wasn't my first time to Whispers. I actually came several months ago to do a review, but the photos were terrible, and, well, the wings were good enough to come back and try to do a better review. And then I came back again when Dude was down, but I didn't have any food (we just met up with some of his Ottawa friends, catching up, drinking). So I was ready to take one for the team today and eat some wings and do a proper review.

The specials listed outside say there are two wing nights: Tuesday and Thursday. That's pretty awesome. And Wing Night starts at 3pm. So I was there today shortly after 3. Unfortunately, there's been some price increases since I was here last, but there was also some new wing flavours too.

The chicken wings were definitely the popular choice this evening. While I was sitting, two older French-Canadian women came in and ordered a salad to split, and 2lbs of wings. I didn't hear the flavour, but they went to town on them. At the end of their dinner they told Dominique that they had the best wings at Whispers.

When Dominique took my order earlier, she had asked if I wanted sour cream on the side. I had to withhold my snobbery and politely decline. I really wanted to ask why people in Ottawa order sour cream when there are so much better dips like bleu cheese or ranch. Why would anyone actually want sour cream? And then the ladies ASKED for sour cream! This is one culture shock I will never get over.
With 11 sauces, there was a lot to choose from. My favourite thing about wing nights, aside from the obvious cheaper wing, is the fact that you can do some sampling. Having asked about the nature of some of the sauces, I ordered 10 BBQ and 10 Chef's Challenge. The wings are deep fried naked, and then tossed in some generous amounts of sauce.

The wings were a medium size, but very meaty. They came out piping hot - which is bad because I have to wait a minute or two before I can physically attack the poultry, but good because they haven't been sitting around. The skin was nice and crispy, but in a relatively short period of time the sauce wore down the crisp factor and slid into mush territory. It wasn't deep into mush territory, but it means you have to scarf these down fast.

The first wings I saw hit my table were the BBQ. The sauce was wet and gleamed off the drummy's and wingettes, which mimicked the drool from my mouth. They looked like they were going to be a good BBQ sauce.

The sauce looked like Diana's, but one sticky taste and I knew it wasn't so. Not overpowering but still there was what I perceived to be ketchup as the base. Some sugar and spice - not unlike a sweet rib sauce my parents used to make for spare ribs. A good sauce, but not one I would want on more than 10 wings. It became a little much.

I'm always skeptical and excited when I see titles like Chef's Challenge. I always have to the hope in my religious quest for the ultimate wing, that they will blow me away. But such titled wings are usually either wimpy, or a disgusting concoction that is hot, but tastes terrible. Whisper's CC walked the narrow line in between. Twice the chef/owner (?) came out twice to check on how I was doing and how were the CC's.

The sauce was viscous but slightly runny. The immediate flavour was crushed red pepper, but there was a lot of different things going on. There was a good burn (it would definitely cause the faint of heart to die) but it didn't overpower the flavours or my pain receptors. I inquired to the chef/owner (?) about divulging the secrets, and he hesitantly told me a list of items from Jerk spice to crushed chili's to vinegar to wing sauce or whatever he might have on hand. A kitchen sink sauce. It was a good little sauce and I complimented him on how there was flavour but still heat. He agreed and said too many cooks/chef's think it needs to be all heat at the expense of taste, and that just isn't right.

OK, I was feeling gluttonous and went for 10 more wings. I didn't feel like the dry rub sauces (Jerk, Tex-Mex) and I was saddened to hear Honey Hot was just honey garlic mixed into hot. So I went back to basics and ordered the simple hot.

These were gold. Wonderful Buffalo wings. The chicken was hot and crispy. The sauce, kicking with cayenne, tart and runny from vinegar. These were a great wing to end off on.

FINAL SCORE: I gotta say, the wings are pricey. And wing night isn't so great (basically $0.50 a wing). But recapping, the wings were meaty, they were crispy and there was some interesting sauces. I left very satisfied. I haven't been to many pub's in Westboro, but this one was pretty darn friendly. Great vibe, and I'm sure I'll be back for wings again. 7.5/10

Whispers Pub & Eatery
249 Richmond Road, Ottawa, ON


Teena in Toronto said...

You're making me hungry!

You don't usually have such a high score.

Chris said...

"two older French-Canadian women came in and ordered a salad to split, and 2lbs of wings."

And LOTW thought he had found his Cougar wing soul mate.

"and a side of sour cream" close.

Lord of the Wings said...

Teena - they did have a high score . . . hmmmmm, that does seem a bit high for some reason (I may have to go back and fix that!)

Chris - LMAO you got me on the Cougar wing soul mate. If it wasn't for the sour cream!