A first look inside Paul Boehmer’s eponymous Ossington restaurant (and details of his new Dean and Deluca-esque retail shop)
Paul Boehmer’s soon-to-open restaurant is like the cherry on top of the Ossington sundae. The eponymous eatery was one of the last to obtain a restaurant and bar permit before the city imposed a one-year moratorium on new establishments last May. “People around the neighbourhood thought that I was opening a nightclub, but since I told them it wasn’t the case, I haven’t received any complaints,” says the former Stadtländer apprentice, who has also cooked at Rosewater Supper Club, Six Steps and Scaramouche. He expects Boehmer to open in less than a month—about six months later than originally planned.
This new addition only compounds Ossington’s reputation for having the city’s greatest density of quality cooking talent. Across from Boehmer are Corinna Mozo’s Delux and Paramour, the fine-dining French bistro owned by the duo behind Levack Block. The buzz around Teo Paul’s Union is still strong, and hours-long queues at Pizzeria Libretto and Foxley speak to their status as perennial favourites. The neighbourhood’s ethnic roots are evident in the two rival Vietnamese joints (the Golden Turtle and Pho Thien Thanh), and Salt Wine Bar (also one of the last places to sneak in before the ban) is set to throw open its doors any minute.
As for Boehmer, he’s bringing to Ossington his take on Canadian cuisine, with an emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients and the occasional exotic import. “I’ll be making my signature dish, a pan-seared foie gras with blackcurrant purée and maple-glazed mutsu apples,” he says. “I came up with it when I worked at Opus. They still serve it there because people complained when it was taken off the menu.” Other ingredients he’ll have in his kitchen include caribou, sweetbreads, homemade ravioli and Ontario cheeses supplied by Cheese Boutique.
The simple and spacious interior is a collaboration between Boehmer, Roy Banse and furniture designers Brothers Dressler, who created the long communal dining table (“It’s boring to sit by yourself at dinner,” Boehmer says) and giant wooden chandelier dripping with Swarovski crystals. The space’s previous incarnation—a garage—is evident in the concrete floors, exposed-brick walls and incredibly high ceilings (a bonus; Boehmer is six-foot-seven). Elements of Boehmer’s home life are also sprinkled here and there, such as a portrait of him at Stadtländer’s farm and paintings done by his late father.
Next door will be Boehmer’s retail space, set to open later in the spring. Using Dean and Deluca as an example, Boehmer says the shop will have prepared meals, cheese, meats, sauces and vinaigrettes prepared by him or other local chefs. What’s missing from the strip, he says, is a bakery or a shop that draws people during the day.
As for criticism that Ossington will become a gentrified, cookie-cutter party zone like Queen West, Boehmer says the landlords here are devoted to upholding the street’s new-found reputation as a gourmet destination, and are selective about whom they let in. “Everyone has their own niche, so there’s no competition. This is the street for food, and there isn’t another place like this in the city.”
Boehmer, 93 Ossington Ave. (at Humbert St.). Opening soon.