OSSINGTON AVENUE RESTAURANT OMAW MARKS CHEF MATT BLONDIN’S RETURN TO THE CUISINE OF THE AMERICAN SOUTH
You might think it’d be easy for a top-tier catering company to open up an equally prosperous restaurant. But the two operations don’t necessarily go hand in hand. Recipes don’t always translate. Staffing requirements are different. A restaurant’s customer base can be unpredictable at best. Toronto’s Food Dudes caterers, however, seem to have found some success. In business since 2007, chef Adrian Niman’s outfit rolled out a still-popular food truck in 2012, and in 2014 its Rasa bar and restaurant became an instant Harbord Village hit—thanks to its trendy yet accessible ambience and cosmopolitan cooking. Late in 2015, the company launched its second bricks-and-mortar space, in collaboration with noted chef Matt Blondin.
Omaw, on hip Ossington Avenue, moves away from the Food Dudes’ more pluralistic culinary outlook and instead focuses on Carolina Lowcountry cuisine—the kind of U.S. South cooking Blondin became known for at a previous post, but now arguably even more refined, and definitely a little more experimental. Take a recent offering of wagyu beef: more than a mere slice of steak, it was instead served as a paper-thin square coloured by a Pollock-like mélange of pea relish and onion slivers. Or order the keylime pie, whose meringue looks like it was made by Frank Gehry. The drinks selection, too, is worthy of both the menu’s provenance and the restaurant’s chic address, with bourbons, craft beers and short list of original cocktails. —Craig Moy