Introducing: Omaw, Matt Blondin’s Carolina-inspired spot on Ossington

Introducing: Omaw, Matt Blondin’s Carolina-inspired spot on Ossington

(Image: Gabby Frank) (Image: Gabby Frank)
 

Our review of Omaw

Name: Omaw
Contact: 88 Ossington St., 416-477-5450, omaw.ca, @omaw88
Neighbourhood: Trinity Bellwoods
Previously: Levack Block
Owners: Matt Blondin, Adrian Niman, Brent McClenahan
Chef: Matt Blondin (Acadia, Momofuku Daishō)
Bar Manager: Alex Harber (Mercatto, Nota Bene, Momofuku Nikai)

The food

Mains and small plates inspired by dishes from the Carolinas, including boudin balls, dumplings and fried chicken. “I didn’t plan to go back to doing this again after Acadia, but nobody else does it in the city,” says Blondin. The menu will change frequently, but will always feature Canadian and American flavours to stay true to the restaurant’s southern identity. There’s a glossary on the back of the menu, which comes in handy if your server isn’t around to explain what burgoo, chow chow or Bayou Blast is.

(Image: Gabby Frank) (Image: Gabby Frank)
 

Mussels on toast: fried baguette topped with corn “smut” (intensely creamed kernels), pickled mussels, celery chow chow and malt vinegar. $13.

(Image: Gabby Frank) (Image: Gabby Frank)
 

A bar snack of chicken liver mousse and dirty-rice crisps. $8.

(Image: Gabby Frank) (Image: Gabby Frank)
 

Aged wagyu with a beef-fat vinaigrette, onion tops, pea relish and coffee. $16.

(Image: Gabby Frank) (Image: Gabby Frank)
 

Gulf prawn tartare with anise remoulade, horseradish and a Creole-spiced potato chip. $12.

(Image: Gabby Frank) (Image: Gabby Frank)
 

Shrimp and grits: Gulf prawns, andouille sausage, mushrooms and pimento cheese. (These are the same highly-acclaimed grits from Blondin’s Acadia days.)

(Image: Gabby Frank) (Image: Gabby Frank)
 

Beef short ribs with capsicum, blackened spice, cane vinegar and puffed amaranth. $14.

The drinks

Ontario and California wines, some available by the glass; classic and original cocktails; a long bourbon list; and draught and bottled beer, including some harder-to-find brews (Rogue, Stillwater) and some local ones (Blood Brothers).

(Image: Gabby Frank) (Image: Gabby Frank)
 

Grow a Pear: Habañero-infused mezcal, house-made plum wine, pear, jasmine, yuzu and egg white. $14.

(Image: Gabby Frank) (Image: Gabby Frank)
 

And Another Thing: Black pepper–infused gin, fino sherry, green chartreuse, cucumber, lime and sea salt. $13.

The space

The main-floor dining room is acting as a restaurant right now, but when the second floor is complete early next year, it will become the more casual bar area. A separate back entrance leads into a dimly-lit, low-key lounge (so, none of Levack Block’s bump-and-grind, just drinks and comfy chairs).

(Image: Gabby Frank) (Image: Gabby Frank)
 
(Image: Gabby Frank) (Image: Gabby Frank)
 

(Image: Gabby Frank) (Image: Gabby Frank)