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Foodie Friday: Oz Kafe executes a perfect trifecta

By Riley Schnurr on August 1, 2014

Although a noticeable lack of emeralds around us, the experience we had at Oz Kafe for dinner was nothing short of a precious gem. Tucked, almost hidden away between Lieutenant’s Pub and Pancho Villa on Elgin Street, Oz certainly delivers a meal fit for a wizard.

Only every so often do you find a restaurant that has “the trifecta” – that is, delivers dinner, drinks, and desserts without comprising one for another. I was strategic in my visit this time, bringing along two friends in order to maximize the sharing-plate opportunity on the menu in front of us.

To begin the triple-threat meal, we ordered our drinks. Though tempted by an elusive Negroni on the menu, we wanted to try some of the house exclusives. A ‘gin fizz’ (egg white, lemon, lime, OJ, soda, and orange blossom water), a ‘grasstini’ (Southern Comfort, rye, melon liqueur, lime), and an ‘Aperol spritz’ (Prosecco, Aperol, soda, and orange) for the three of us. While delicious and refreshing, the spritz I had was as I should have expected – a translucent mimosa over ice. I envied my fellow foodies who encountered green concoctions that tingled and tantalized their taste-buds over a rainbow of citrus.

After deliberation and assistance from our server, we ordered two small plates and two big plates from the menu in order to experience as wide a breadth as we could. A sharing plate to start with cheese and bread and accessories and an order of edamame were the small starting plates. While the menu descriptor uses ‘tossed’, I think ‘drenched’ in butter and salt might have sufficed for the edamame that arrived. I swear if you had closed your eyes it was like eating popcorn at the movie theatre. My friends were enamoured by the healthy-snack-turned-bad, while I focused more on the cheese platter.

A goat cheese, a French blue, and a Gouda anchor rhubarb chutney, roasted and candied almonds, a pickled assortment, and thin baguette crisps with butter as vessels. This plate was phenomenal. The blue was not obnoxious, but present only when actually consumed. The Gouda closely resembled familiar white cheddar, but was good nonetheless. I am always a sucker for a goat cheese, and this creamy spread did not disappoint. The three accessories complemented each other well – a slight sour in the chutney, the sweet almonds, and a subtle acid from the pickling give life to the board.

Out of a selection of bigger plates, we shared a Korean-inspired beef “Seoul Food” plate and a duck breast plate. The duck plate arrives and resembles a classic steak dinner: the breast of meat in slices over a heap of mashed potato and beans, with side salad. Once you indulge however, it becomes apparent this is not another steak dinner. The duck, seared on the outside and nicely pink in the middle, is dipped in accompanying jus which mimics tones of teriyaki, and was sweet enough for me to avoid the grilled apple on top. The underlying mash had adopted the flavours of duck it supported and smokey flavour it was prepared with to provide a more natural and earthy flavour – in a good way. The beef plate comes as unprepared lettuce wraps, with sesame soy paste, kimchi, and some shredded veg. The beef was a medium cook and stayed juicy on the hot plate. The kimchi provided the kick here while the sesame soy was simply present.

We sat and enjoyed the remainder of our drinks for a while after the meal, and because everything had gone so well so far, we unanimously voted in favour of dessert. Out of three specials given by the server, we shared two. The first was a Whippersnapper; a dulce de leche base that was sweet with espresso notes, whipcream, and some ginger snap cookie made each (admittedly large) spoonful an enjoyable one. The second dessert, a nameless underdog, consisted of three chocolate truffles on vanilla-flavoured custard, laced by melted marshmallow, raspberries and mint. One spoonful (all the provisions would allow for each of us to try) was enough to satisfy the sweetest of teeth.

While the trifecta had been executed spectacularly, Oz we found did lack in some departments. The plastic chairs and tables on the patio felt neglected and out of place supporting a meal that radiated with thought and care. I’d like to note the service from all the staff that saw to us was phenomenal as well, and rounded out an excellent journey down a yellow brick road to Oz, an emerald of a Kafe.

Oz Kafe is located at 361 Elgin Street. They are open Tues – Sat from 5pm – 2 am and Sunday from 6pm – 2 am. For reservations, please call 613-234-0907.