How IS Oddfellows?
I keep reading reviews about Oddfellows. They aren't glowing, but they're pretty decent. Is this place all hype? Is it just the latest hipster hotspot or does it have substance? My husband says the communal table will be "fun" ... but I want good food and non-awkward social times!!
Who has been? How was it? Should I go? Will I have to research and then wear a hipster uniform?
An absolutely wasteful way to spend your time and money, imho!
Id had hoped that my first post here would have been more positive but...
I went on the weekend as my first meal out in Toronto based on its inclusion in the NY Times' "36 Hours in Toronto." Unintelligent server and unremarkable food. The lamb stew was old-tasting and nothing i couldnt have made myself, better. The amount of butter in the pate made my wife feel sick and she is a pate fan. Our server knew nothing about the short wine list and seemed more concerned with their friends at the bar than the customers in the room, which is rather silly-looking. I dont understand the hype.
After having lived in Montreal and eaten many meals at Schwartz's, I didn't think the communal dining would be a problem. And mostly, it was fine, but when this place is packed, and loud, it feels VERY communal. I had the venison burger which was rich, juicy but overall unremarkable. The stew looks terrific, and is reasonably priced (~$30 for 2); I'll get it next time.
Just had a meal at OddFellows last night after a reco from a Chowhound here - I was only in Toronto for one week and wanted to check something out. Great to go somewhere even my friends hadn't heard of. :-) Really enjoyed it. Even with a nearly full table of 26 people, I still felt it wasn't too loud and it didn't bug me as much as I thought. (The Neil Young blasting loud over the speakers did up the ante in terms of volume but we could talk just fine without having to earwig too much on others' conversations). Plus, the indoor kettle wood-burning fireplace was awesome.
Foodwise, we had a non-descript veggie stir fry starter (chinese greens, green beans, garlic) which was tasty but nothing you couldn't do at home.
My mate had the pork belly/shortrib combo which was really sweet and unctuous. I think it was two or three squares of each with a rather molassesy sauce.
I had the venison burger which was gorgeous and covered with all manner of cheese and relishes and very tasty - shame, though, because I recently I read a bad review calling out the totally rubbish burger bun that comes with it and I'd hoped they would have corrected something this stupidly easy to fix, but alas. The burger bun was one of those dryer, crap store-bought ones and should have had a slighly more egg-bread or soft, fresh one. Disappointing. But if you get the bugers or their fries, ask for their homemade mayo/relish/tartar-type sauce. It was gorgeous. People next to us had the lamb/pressure-cooker stew (now $39 for two), and on the other side, some folks had the rather odd-looking tempeh club sandwich. Looked plentiful though.
It's simple food, done well-enough (though they could have totally made it excellent by fixing a few simple aspects) and heavy on the meat or straight veggie. Meats are dark and gamey (venison, pork belly etc). Wasn't any fish that I can really remember. Think there was a vegetable pasta too.
No martinis - just simple mixed drinks, basic wines. Service adequate.
I would go actually go back. Didn't feel pretentious when I was there - a cross between hip middle-agers and hipsters, but as my friend said, with only 26 people in the room sharing a table, it's hard to be too snobby.
I've gone here twice now with 2 different dining companions... first time we both got the burger, the second time i got the pork belly short rib plate.
I'd agree mostly with MikalaT on the burger.
It was a HUGE burger, slightly over seasoned on a nice big fresh soft bun (would've preferred it toasted) and there was a perfect burger to bun ratio. Also, what most of you would find interesting is both times the burger was cooked RARE.
I didn't care for the toppings as much, thinking that something plainer would really showcase the yummy meat. the relishes were too strong for me but i enjoyed the thick cut sauteed mushrooms. The fries were also realllllly realllly good. Half-way through I had to unbutton my pants so I could make more room for burger! ($18)
the second time I decided to get the rib combo which was satisfying, but came just warm. I thought it seemed kinda small with 1 piece of short rib, and 3 squares of porkbelly that i needed re-heated because the fat had turned quite hard and unappealing by this time. the bourbon sauce was overly sweet and there was too much on the dish, but just a little drizzle of it would've been quite good.
celeriac puree was good, but was given sparingly. ($16)
this time, my friends burger patty was much smaller but cooked med-rare and still tasted great.
oh. and one of my friends insisted on getting the $7 green salad... which was frisee with a few humble pieces of brie and beets with a balsamic dressing. !!! i never order salads at restaurants i can't make at home in 2 minutes. it was good but $7?
getting your bill in a romance novel is cute, i actually like the communal table - but, the dishware? I'm pretty sure the plates are from dollarama. Something a bit less Corelle-like (even ikea) would have made the experience better since I tend to turn and touch my plate a lot.
The place definitely has a strong hipster vibe, which is not my thing, but I really enjoyed my one dinner experience there and would definitely go back. In particular, I highly recommend the stew and/or the braised ribs.
For more details, see my original review:
re: Sarah Cat
If I remember correctly, I think they had a really yummy-sounding veg option. I would likely have ordered it if I hadn't been in a carnivorous mood. Sorry to be so vague - can't remember the details but it definitely sounded great. There was also at least one fish option as I recall.