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Monday, 10 December 2012

Ousia - Octopodes and Lingua Franca

I've been rolling around the word "Ousia," trying to figure out how on earth to pronounce it. Oo-sea-ah? Oo-sha? The restaurant's signage didn't help either; the u looks a lot like a v. I've given up on trying to pronounce it and, instead, am reveling in memories of a well-composed foray into Mediterranean cuisine.

Ousia's narrow space is clad in dark hues. Under most circumstances, dark colours make a small room seem smaller, but here they add a metropolitan vibe that somehow reminds me long-ago nights in Toronto. Ousia's menu has the advantage of small plates, where one may compose a meal out of a smattering of small dishes. We begin with Grilled Octopus. This dish is a welcome change from the done-to-death calamari that besmirches most menus. Ousia's cephalopod creation pairs tender tentacles with an alien-looking fennel chip, a wheel of citrus, and a salty Kalamata olive puree. It is, to be certain, an assertive and memorable combination of flavours. (Oh, and the correct plural of octopus is octopodes, not octopi)

Pickled Beef Tongue graces three small chickpea tortillas and is crowned with a hat of radish and a cilantro-scented salsa verde. The tortillas are a bit tough, but the tongue veritably melts on impact. How grateful I am that this city is slowly overcoming with its fear of "unusual" cuts of meat. Surely, this underappreciated body part should become part of our lingua franca.

Croquettes of the day are delightful potato pillows laced with tangy asiago cheese. They are hot, crunchy, and over too quickly.

Feta Phyllo Parcels are admittedly tasty, but are a bit cumbersome for my liking. Their robe of clover honey is a bit cloying, and a larger dose of pomegranate is needed to offset the sweetness. These would do well as smaller parcels with a more parsimonious balance of tart and sweet.

Dessert is a gorgeous duet of Apple Sorbet with Goat's Milk creme and a judicious bowl of Butternut Squash Rice Pudding. This study in contrasts satiates with alternating hits of icy autumn mornings and roaring fire winter's nights. After all of that, I am no closer to pronouncing Ousia's name correctly, but one need not be linguistically adept to enjoy good food.

Ousia on Urbanspoon


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