When Ottawa’s first market building opened in 1827 in what is now called ByWard Market, it kickstarted a wave of commercial growth that has only amplified through the decades. One of Canada’s oldest and largest public markets, it now serves as a year-round hub for shopping, eating and nightlife. The four-block radius around the downtown retail and entertainment district boasts the densest concentration of restaurants, bars and clubs in the city, making it a hotbed for tourists and locals alike. At the heart of it all is Buvette Daphnée, a wine bar and fine dining restaurant opened last fall — and designed by Montreal’s Ivy Studio, marking the firm’s first project in Ottawa.

Buvette Daphnée restaurant in Ottawa, designed by Ivy Studio

Though chef Dominique Dufour had been in Ottawa for many years, where she made a name for herself showcasing quintessentially Canadian fare, the Montreal native wanted to bring a classic Quebec wine bar to the nation’s capital, seamlessly blending the two cultures. No stranger to Montreal’s hospitality scene itself, Ivy Studio expertly translated Dufour’s vision into a space that feels both nostalgic and of the moment.

Booth with tambour walls and blue cushions

Located in a former industrial building on William St., the nearly 140-square metre space is divided into two distinct zones — the dining room and the bar — unified by a palette of caramel, brown, cream and powder blue, inspired by the retro vibe of Quebec’s colourful diners. The designers opted to leave the exterior brick walls exposed, revealing the character of the original building while layering in complementary finishes.

Buvette Daphnée restaurant in Ottawa, designed by Ivy Studio

In the dining room, a cognac leather banquette runs along the windows, complemented by wooden bistro tables and vintage chairs. A row of two-seater booths acts as a median in the centre of the space, separating the banquettes from a duo of cozy nooks, clad in caramel-coloured tambour and outfitted with powder blue cushions. Adding yet another layer of depth and graphic interest, a custom mosaic floor in the same palette runs throughout the interior and is countered by the simplicity of the glossy cream-coloured ceiling.

Wooden bar with blue and red stools and a red tubular light fixture above

The bar, meanwhile, is where the diner references take centre stage. Blue velvet stools line the u-shaped wooden counter that surrounds the open kitchen, and the server station, lacquered in vibrant burnt orange, provides a retro pop of colour.

Burnt orange server station

Lighting plays a key role in setting the mood in many Ivy Studio projects, and Buvette Daphnée is no exception. The firm turned to frequent collaborator Hamster to design a bespoke fixture that hangs above the bar — a nine-metre-long, vibrant red, tubular track light that resembles a pipe, nodding playfully to the building’s industrial past. Evoking the old-world charm of Montreal, frosted globe pendants by Studio Botté, recycled from the city’s 60s-era streetlamps, appear to float weightlessly within the space. “Much like its celebrated menu based on locally grown ingredients, Buvette Daphnée’s design offers Ottawa an authentic taste of Montreal’s rich culinary culture,” the designers explain.

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