Feature: Stoneface Dolly's
I recently had the pleasure of visiting the the newest StoneFace Dolly's, which has opened in Ottawa's South end of town. With their Preston St location being an Ottawa go-to spot, Jeff Russell and his father decided to open up a second location in one of Ottawa's most up and coming parts of town, Riverside South. I got to sit down with Jeff and learn all of the interesting stories behind StoneFace Dolly's, as well as sample some incredible food!
One thing that I always find so great when I speak to business owners, is how they came up with the name. Well StoneFace Dolly's has a great story! Jeff's dad bought the original location on Bronson Avenue (which has since moved to Preston St), some 15 years ago from a woman named Doreen. Doreen's mom, a woman from the East coast of Canada, was in the hospital at the time, and she would often go and spend time with her. One of Doreen's mom's favourite things to do was play cards, and she was a master at bluffing, or staying "Stone Faced" against her opponent. And if you haven't figured it out by now.... Doreen's mom's name... is Dolly.
As I mentioned, Jeff's dad bought the original location 15 years ago, on Bronson Avenue. He was born in South Africa, and was originally a salesman. Jeff shared a story with me about his dad that some customers had come in to the restaurant simply for coffee and dessert, but Jeff's dad told him he would be able to convince them that they wanted much more. Well wouldn't you know it, a few hours later, they had enjoyed main courses, bottles of wine and the coffee and dessert they had originally came in for. It's these kind of personal stories that help StoneFace Dolly's keep that local, neighborhood restaurant feel. Jeff's dad enrolled in the Culinary program at Algonquin College and though he was the 'old guy' among the kids, he was very successful. When he purchased the Bronson Avenue location, he brought Jeff in to join him.
Jeff Russell worked in restaurants from the age of 15, starting as a dishwasher, working his way through the ranks, to eventually running a kitchen. He has developed his skill by working and learning from others. While Jeff may be a great cook, he has brought some great young chefs in to help with the creative side of things in the kitchen, and works to help them grow in their craft. Jeff has cooked not only in Ottawa but also when he has traveled around the world. He also is a Muy Thai instructor and has a passion for martial arts.
When it comes to the food at StoneFace Dolly's, everything is made fresh in house, including the breads (you haven't lived until you've tried their molasses bread!), sauces, corned beef, sausages, spice mixes, and the list goes on. This ensures they are always giving their customers the freshest food with quality ingredients. While you may think of StoneFace Dolly's as a brunch restaurant, they want you to know that they offer much more! I've had their brunch items and they are unreal, such as their many Eggs Benedict options, but they also have some great burgers and, as pictured above, a chicken Bobotie. This is something I had never tried in my life, but let me tell you, it is amazing!!! It is a dish inspired by Jeff's dad, from South Africa. It involves a fresh filo pastry, chicken, curry, raisins and almonds, with a yogurt raita and bananas. Let me tell you, I will be going back for more bobotie that's for sure! They are also featuring a new fish sandwich, with fresh mango salsa, served with fries and salad, which is also delicious! The bartender at StoneFace Dolly's also recommended the Jerk Ribs, and says that the jerk sauce is as legitimate as anything you would find down in the islands! I may also have to go back to try those!
The bar is also stocked with some great local Ottawa area beers on tap, such as Beaus, Kichesippi, Whitewater and Ashton Brewing Company. They also try to source local product as much as possible. You can also find hot sauces on every table from Chamomile Desjardins, a local Ottawa hot sauce maker, who can be found at most farmer's markets.
With the hot days of summer here to stay, StoneFace Dolly's in Riverside South, has a great patio and a fantastic cocktail list. Pictured above are the Fresh Blackberry Mojito, and the Rum Punch, both of which are sure to quench your thirst on a hot summer day. I recommend having both!
StoneFace Dolly's believes in helping in the community, as well as keeping their food waste low. They donate all of their produce food scraps to Mariposa farms, and are currently transitioning to paper straws. They also support Ryan's Well, which is a non-profit water charity that provides clean, safe water in developing countries, and host trivia nights monthly, with proceeds going to a local Ottawa charity.
I'd like to thank Jeff Russell for having me at StoneFace Dolly's and sharing stories of him and his dad, how StoneFace Dolly's came to be, and introducing me to the Bobotie! These are some great people, with a passion for making great food. Be sure to check them out, and if you're looking for someone to go have some Jerk Ribs with, give me a shout!
- The Kid