Sunday, May 19, 2019

Eating off the Hill: Berlin streetfood comes to Ottawa with Wolf Down

Ottawa is the town where shawarma is king. Don't believe me? We have Shawarma King and Shawarma's King within a few blocks of each other -- yes, two different reasturants. Ottawa has a new challenger though for meat sandwich supremacy -- ironically, nearly across the street from Shawarma King -- and it's straight out of Berlin: Wolf Down.

Located at 380 Bank Street (and James) in Centreton, this new start-up is dedicated to one dish, and it's classic Berlin street food: the döner sandwich. You can also have it in salad form, should you for some reason choose to. You can choose your protein:  chicken, beef or tofu; your veggies: lettuce, cucumber, tomato, onion and cabbage; and your sauce: secret (a mayo herb combo, basically) or spicy. But that's about it; other than your drink, that's the menu.

I've been to Berlin twice in my 40-ish years, and it's a great city. And I have fond memories of what I recall as the döner kebab. Brought to Berlin by Turkish migrant workers, this quick and easy lunch soon took the city by storm. My first trip to Berlin was in 1994, as part of a three-month exchange stay in Germany during high school. The German government took the Canadian students to Berlin for a few days and, after a morning of touring, would drop us off somewhere central and peel us each off a 10 (was it euros or marks in 1994?) to go find lunch on our own. I remember always buying a doner kebab from a truck for 5 and turning a nice profit on the meal.

My next trip to Berlin was as part of a work conference with German software company IDS Scheer (no relation, I don't think) in 2008 and, that trip, I was all about the currywurst: chopped sausage mixed in a curry ketchup. So good.

But back to Wolf Down. While it will set you back $11 instead of $5 (granted, some inflation in 25 years is inevitable), it's still pretty good value that will leave you satisfied. The Art-Is-In Bakery sesame-crusted bread has a nice chew, the veggies are fresh and plentiful, and the meat (I had the beef) is well-seasoned. It's another take on the donair, familiar to Halogonians -- same meat, different veggies and bread. And, important for me, a different sauce -- I'm not a fan of the sweet donair sauce.

The feel of the reasturant is industrial, and it's wide-open -- but with limited seating. There's certainly space for a few more tables to be added, and it was pretty busy on this second day of opening, as the Ottawa rain chased people inside. Ordering is quick but prep takes a little while. And, something I didn't see on the web site -- they're cashless.

Also of note, my bottle of water came in a little Wolf Down cozy. I don't know if I was meant to keep it; I left it on the counter just in case. But a cute touch.

I enjoyed my sandwich, and will likely be a regular, particularly as it's two blocks from my condo. A welcome, and healthier feeling, alternative to the ubiqutous Ottawa shawarma. I would like to see them expand on the Berlin theme though, and, if they decide to add a second menu item, please make it currywurst. Then you'd never get be out of there...

An industrial vibe.

A close-up before I began wolfing it down.
Veggies are great, but I love the point when you're down to mostly delicious beefy goodness.

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