What was formerly the home of a shoe store in the beautiful heritage red brick building at the corner of Bank and Frank Street in Ottawa’s Centretown is now, finally, home to one of the city’s best dining destinations. Fauna officially opened it’s doors on September 4th after 2 years of local anticipation. Now having been open for just over 6 months, the small group of partners behind Ottawa’s latest culinary prized possession, including Chef Jon Svazas and The Azure’s developer John Thomas, can rest assured that they’ve already contributed beyond measure towards the reawakening that Ottawa’s local dining scene has been experiencing.
Fauna refers to “the animals of a particular region or habitat” and every detail of the restaurant, from the small plates meant to be shared and bring people together to the beautifully thought out interior design of the space stay true to this definition. The menu is ever-evolving with the seasons and features local, sustainably sourced products that Chef Jon Svazas transforms into deliciously fresh plates influenced by the seasons and regions of Canada. Svazas describes Fauna as being “about the things we love: eating and drinking with friends and family in a fun space.”
The restaurant’s spacial layout was done by Ottawa’s Linebox Studio, however, Chef Jon Svazas and his wife Kate took on the interior design themselves and their creative vision for the space left no area untouched. The outcome is a fun, welcoming and warm modern design with a touch of industrial flare – a stunning 85 seat eatery spanning 2 floors. Jon and Kate made sure to stay true to the concept of Fauna not in just using locally sourced food, but also in supporting local designers, artists and shops by sourcing all of the finishes of the space’s design locally as well.
The zinc bar by Alan Gustafson of Gusto Metal Fabrications and eclectic lighting are the focal points of the beautiful open concept dining room. Both sets of lighting were sourced by The Modern Shop in the ByWard Market. The pendant lights above the bar were handmade in Vancouver by Bocci, while the funky colourful ones above the banquet hail from Denmark by Scandinavian design firm Normann Copenhagen.
The massive windows look out onto the hustle and bustle of Bank Street. In the daytime the windows fill the restaurant with warm light while at night they offer a sense of illusion, making one feel like they’ve stepped away from the streets of Ottawa into a restaurant you might imagine experiencing in larger metropolises like New York, Berlin or London. The space invites a sense of vibrant energy and good conversation. Most of all though, Fauna provides a relaxed but delicious dining experience, especially with it’s style of open and communal seating at dark, wood grain finished tables made by Interversion from Montreal and Emeco chairs brought in by A Modern Space in Hintonburg.
Large portions of the walls allow the warmth of the red brick facade to be exposed while contemporary Canadian artists adorn the rest. Featured on the walls of Fauna are Ottawa artist Christopher Griffin’s ox piece at the front entrance, Toronto artist Jim Kushnir’s stunning painting of a woman titled Ophelia in the Weeds, and abstract paintings by Keith Woods of Winnipeg. As you make your way downstairs you’ll find a private dining room with a different and slightly darker vibe named the Foundry Room, getting it’s name from the foundry molds brought in from Hamilton and hung in different patterns on the wall. For sentimental reasons, one of our favourite features of the restaurant has a history that most wouldn’t know of. The tin wall encompassing the entire front entrance of Fauna was salvaged from the Pronto Convenience Store that previously called the site of The Azure home.
Everything about Ottawa’s newest restaurant is simple yet significant – from the incredible Canadian comfort food bursting with unsuspecting flavour to the distinctly modern and cozy interior design. Fauna ticks all the boxes you’d expect, and so much more, from a modern and nationally praised restaurant and bar.
Photos: Remi Theriault2