Introducing: L’Ouvrier, the newest addition to Dundas West’s restaurant row
Back in August we told you about L’Ouvrier, the new restaurant and bar on Dundas West, which takes its inspiration from a line in Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London: “The cook does not look upon himself as a servant, but as a skilled workman; he is generally called ‘UN OUVRIER’ which a waiter never is.” The workman in question would be Angus Bennett, who along with Justine Fowler opened the doors to their new spot last night.
A large WWI-era image of hard working chefs looms over the space as a reminder of Bennett’s food philosophy: “Cooking is less about art and more about hard work and dedication.” The menu, which jumps around the world from cuisine to cuisine, dispenses with titles for the dishes, instead listing each ingredient as it’s found on the plate. Some of the house favourites include an Asian hot and sour soup with chicken dumplings, ginger, scallions, cilantro and shiitake ($8), a tuna tartar plate with a side of crispy chips and avocado puree ($14) and roasted salmon with lemongrass, coconut milk, Thai basil, coriander, lime leaf and ginger ($21).
The large open space was once an illegal after hours club with dark walls and small, presumably smoke-filled rooms. Bennett and his team stripped the space down to its concrete floors and added a coat of white paint to achieve a minimalist feel. In the middle of the room is a large, 12-seat bar, which will likely be the hub of activity (and noise). There’s also a smattering of tables of various shapes and sizes. The lion’s share of the decoration comes from installations by artist and friend Courtney Wotherspoon, who adorned the space with industrial materials from the reno job, including electrical wire, nails and little plastic bags filled with nuts, bolts, pegs and paint. Breaking up the white are splashes of decidedly non-work appropriate hot pink: there’s the one pink table, the hot pink aprons servers will wear, some hot pink string art on the walls and the hot pink neon sign in the window.
L’Ouvrier, 791 Dundas St. W, 416-901-9581, louvrier.ca.