I have been following oddBird’s Instagram for a while now, enjoying their tantalizing food porn and trying to figure out when they would open the door to their new restaurant on St Paul Street in downtown St Catharines. And, even though their website still had the pesky “Coming Soon” sign on it, I suspected from their social media photos that they opened in early November 2017.
Well, it turns out I was right. They don’t take bookings, but they are open, and it doesn’t seem to be a secret. My first tip would be to go for dinner early or after 8pm, because otherwise, you may be lining up.
On the evening my Chief Researcher and I indulged, we arrived about 8pm and easily slipped into a table for two. However, even with a few free tables, patrons having a raucous good time lined the bar for their meals, which I soon realized wasn’t the bar at all. The restaurant is flipped so the kitchen is open at the front and the bar is hidden in the back, so you can see oddBird’s talented chefs at work.
We were greeted by the kitchen staff as we arrived. Hip hop music from the early 2000s was set at a volume just above atmospheric. The Real Slim Shady didn’t seem to fit with the unassuming restaurant interior, which is mostly tables for two and small posies of dried flowers in glass bottles, and it took us a few minutes and ordering a round of drinks to relax into the unexpected. However, once we did, oddBird delivered a fun night out.
All the food and drinks are listed on a chalk board wall, but, when the menu is as fresh and seasonal as it is at oddBird, what’s the point of printing it on paper?! It did, however, mean popping out of our seats occasionally to inspect the list of unique cocktail and local brews.
We started with a local cherry cider and porter from Collective Arts Brewing and an order of fresh oysters. The tart cider went perfectly with the oysters. I particularly loved the house-made oyster dressings, including Thai Chilli, Banana Pepper, Pickle Brine, Fermented Soy, and a Balsamic Vinaigrette, which were all so delicious that I wanted to eat more oysters to sample them all.
There are plenty of options for sharing at oddBird. We chose two meaty dishes – the House Pork Merguez served with Peperonata and a creamy aioli, and Beef Short Ribs with Potatoes, Cheese Curds, and Jus.
Both were delicious with beautifully balanced flavours and fresh herbaceous ingredients. However, my favourite was the beef short ribs, or more specifically the potatoes. They were roasted till the edges are crispy and dressed with salt and vinegar, like old-fashioned English-style hot chips, which worked perfectly with the rich meat and creamy cheese curds.
We paired our meal with a 2016 Big Head Big Red and a 2012 Meritage by Niagara Teaching Winery. Both went well; the Big Head is more fruit forward and the Meritage, thanks to its age, is mellow.
For dessert, we ordered the Vegan Creme Brûlée. With the kitchen right out in front we could smell the sweet sugar being brûléed just before it arrived. Again, we were a little surprised when a rich dark chocolate dessert with brûléed top arrived in front of us, but, if someone wants to give me chocolate when I expect vanilla – it’s okay with me!
I would recommend oddBird for a fun night out, great seasonal food and local beverages. It’s like nothing else you will find in the Niagara Region, so arrive open minded, lean in, enjoy the atmosphere, and you will discover something different.
Location 52 St Paul St, St Catharines, ON L2R 3M2