There is no shortage of coffee shops in Ottawa but most are chains like Starbucks, Second Cup, Timothy’s or the ubiquitous Tim Horton’s. Independent coffee shops are rarer and that’s why I’d like to start this new section, Foodies Corner, with one of my favourite places in Ottawa—Planet Coffee.
Planet Coffee is nested in the courtyard of York Street’s Clarendon Lanes condominium, in the Byward Market. If you are on George Street, turn at the Librarie du Soleil. In the summer, there is plenty of outdoor seating—and if it’s full, you can always sit on one of the benches in the courtyard.
Most places in the Byward Market are overpriced and cater to tourists. Planet Coffee is one of the exceptions. The courtyard is quiet and the atmosphere is very relaxed. While there seems to be a big turnover of staff (that or I really don’t have a good memory for faces!) it still feels like a neighbourhood coffee shop.
So, what’s the deal? Well, drinks for a start. Coffee, lattes, chai tea and the like are available and are reasonably priced, although don’t expect them to be much cheaper than at the franchised coffee joints. There are also cheap cold drinks including most soft drinks, juice and iced tea.
But the real perk of the place is the bakery. Even if you are extremely self-disciplined and really only want a drink, it’s hard to resist the display of cakes. Even worse (for your willpower, I mean), they are baked on-site, right behind the counter, and it just smells so good! I’m a huge fan of their chocolate chips banana bread and lemon square—although come to think of it, their cream cheese brownie is also to die for. Yes, I did taste a lot of these treats—for review purposes, of course.
Service is quick and efficient and even though the place is often very busy, there’s gotta be a chair and a little bit of room for you. Otherwise, you can always share a seat at the long bar at the side of the room. Like the stickers above ironically says, “avoid eye contact at all cost”. Look for other hidden messages around… including on the ceiling!
I haven’t tried the lunch but I’ve heard great things about their paninis and soup. Unfortunately, they don’t offer lunch on Saturdays.
- Cheap and delicious treats
- Free newspapers and magazines to read
- Relaxed atmosphere full of locals
- Only takes cash
- No wi-fi
- The steel chairs feel cold in the winter and the seating isn’t too cozy (think modern rather than your folk’s comfy couch)
At a glance
24 York St. (Byward Market)
Baked goods: $1.25-$3.73