The Lieutenant's Pump  (361 Elgin Street, Ottawa -


The Lieutenant’s Pump is one of those well established Elgin Street restaurants that always seems busier than it should be.  Tucked into the corner of a below street level alcove, there was little indication that just inside the non-descript doors awaited a crowd of hungry customers all contributing to a thirty minute wait.  Lucky for us, the hostess lied to us and we were seated in fifteen.

Reading the menu, I was immediately put off by the price.  The ham and cheese omelette I was considering had one descriptor: 'eleven dollars and fifty cents'.  Not exactly the kindest words you could use when describing a dish, but I suppose it's important to most. Reassured by our pleasant server that the dish came with homefries, I committed to my decision and ordered in faith, hoping for the best.  I was certainly relieved to see not only a large portion of egg served with thick-cut potatoes, but also a mound of fruit and even a piece of chocolate.  Fully impressed by the variety, I abandoned my initial impression and accepted that this was a good breakfast at good value.

For a dark restaurant that operates in the basement of a building, my experience here was easily above expectations.  They under-promised everything and constantly over- delivered.  The Lieutenant's Pump also seems to have cornered a niche market in Ottawa, constantly broadcasting at least one game of European style football on strategically placed televisions throughout the restaurant.  Although I'm not an avid spectator of soccer, I found this added to the overall pub atmosphere, giving the Lieutenant's Pump an authentic feeling that is somewhat uncommon in Ottawa. 


Saturday morning is the perfect time to go out for breakfast, and we definitely like to take advantage of this.  One cold and windy morning, we decided to walk down Elgin and choose the first breakfast place that looked enticing.  And so we came to The Lieutenant’s Pump, a cozy looking pub nestled halfway underground in an apartment complex on Elgin.  There was a pretty substantial line-up, but since LP is so large, it was only a few minutes before we were seated.  One thing about LP is that it’s kind of dark for a breakfast place, since it’s mostly below street level.  But fortunately, this morning we were seated right under a window, so we had some great light streaming in, and we could see outside. 

I ordered a large glass of orange juice and their French toast with bananas and strawberries.  This turned out to be a pretty amazing choice, because most of the breakfasts served at LP come with a pile of fruit anyway, so I had fruit and more fruit (in case anyone was wondering, I really like fruit).  And so much French toast!  It had been cut into triangles and arranged fanned out on the plate, with wedges of bananas between each slice, and strawberries on top.  And not only was it nice to look at, but it tasted pretty good too.  It wasn’t as good as my grandmother’s recipe, but I have to say it came close.  The toast by itself wasn’t sweet, so the addition of fruit and syrup was perfect.  The orange juice I had ordered was large enough to last my whole meal, and it wasn’t from concentrate.  You don’t find many places around that will serve freshly squeezed orange juice.

Despite the large number of guests, and the overall busyness of the place, the service was great and the food didn’t suffer.  If you don’t mind braving the crowds on a Saturday morning, The Lieutenant’s Pump is a pretty good choice for a satisfying breakfast.


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