Since my parents moved to Niagara-on-the-lake, I’ve been bookmarking restaurants to try. One of the first eateries I came across was oddBird. I’m not sure why exactly it’s taken me forever to get there, but seven months later, on a sunny afternoon in June, I finally found myself where all the cool kids eat.
Located in the heart of St. Catherines, owners Justin Duc and Scott White founded the restaurant in 2017 and have been serving up a fancy French fare with a Canadian twist ever since. In fact, the duo even opened another location called oddBar that caters to a more casual clientele of pizza cravers… but back to oddBird.
With a space that seats no more than 20 people, oddBird has a sort of badass bistro vibe. Although the fare might suggest otherwise, the eatery isn’t the least bit pretentious. It’s welcoming and eclectic and weird and just everything that I’d want my ideal restaurant to be. As the body-rumbling rap music hummed through the open kitchen and into my bones, I took a moment to admire my surroundings.
A collection of funky painted chickens decorate the walls alongside random knick-knacks and PBR memorabilia. A random rubber chicken or two dangle from light fixtures—it’s all very edgy and quirky in a way that’s also effortless. Given the limited space, there’s bar top seating, which is fun as you can see directly into the kitchen and watch the chefs do what they do best: make delicious magic.
With a menu that’s always subject to change, you never know what you’re going to get. But, you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be some super unique items. While they offer unreal burgers and fried chicken sandwiches (I was lucky enough to try both when they collaborated with Silversmith a few months back!), know that oddBird also serves up menu items like duck tongue, beef tartare and even escargot—crazy, I know, but crazy in the best way possible.
Scanning through the signature cocktails and craft beers, I decided it was a wine day. I settled on a lovely little bottle of 2020 Chenin Blanc from Pearce Predhomme. A collaboration between Toronto sommelier Will Predhomme, Ontario wine importer Nicholas Pearce and Stellenbosch’s Radford Dale winery, I put on my own sommelier cap and tried to think about the tasting notes I’d studied about Chenin. I found this wine to be super fresh, teeming with crisp apple and lemon flavours. Because it was also dubbed a sustainable wine, it received a super thumbs up from me.
Then came the important stuff, the food. We ordered:
Pickled Mussel Crostini
I’m not sure why but anytime I see “pickled” anything on a menu, I immediately need to try it—once a pickle girl, always a pickle girl, I suppose. Lucky for me, my pickled love affair pointed me in the right direction. A two-bite moment, the crostini was topped with steamed mussels, sliced shallots, pickled chilis and a healthy drizzle of olive oil. I could have probably eaten 100 of these, they were that delicious!
Made in house, the duck prosciutto was interesting. I had recently watched an episode of Chopped and saw it as a basket ingredient which piqued my interest, so I thought I'd give it a go. Topped with some sweet local blueberries, microgreens, shaved fennel and pecorino, it was quite tasty. That said, this Italian girl is still a fan of the OG piggy prosciutto.
I’ve written about escargot a few times (here and there), but I had yet to actually try snails for myself, that is, until I saw them on the menu! Five plump mollusks covered in a thick, creamy sauce of garlic, butter, and white wine and served with baguette, I was pleasantly surprised. They were meatier than I had anticipated. Texturally, they reminded me of a steamed mussel, but after swallowing an intense herbaceousness filled my mouth as if I'd just taken a bite out of a daffodil. It was an awe-inspiring moment and wasn’t so scary after all.
Another stellar dish, this was such a fun take on a tourtière. oddBird flips the traditional French-Canadian meat pie on its head by breading and frying a patty of minced pork until golden brown. Served with a dollop of mustard and a few crunchy cornichons, this was so creative and so deliciously rich.
Braised Short Rib Poutine
Since I can never see poutine on a menu and not order it, we had to try it, despite being semi-stuffed from all the luxuriously decadent sharing plates we’d already devoured. Crispy salt and vinegar potatoes, gooey cheese curds, warm gravy, a hunk of melt-in-your-mouth braised beef—do I need to say anything more?
Olive Oil Cake
Every dinner needs to end on a sweet note. I don’t care what anyone says, it's just the law. While I was swaying towards the maple rosemary and pistachio crème brûlée, I’m glad we opted for this limited edition menu item instead. Like a semolina cornbread, the cake was fluffy and paired amazingly with slightly macerated berries and velvety whipped cream. It was the perfect finish to a perfect dinner.
Overall, I had a wonderful experience at oddBird. I’m obsessed with the food, loved the vibe, the staff was super friendly, and the price was actually really great bang for your buck—seriously, I’ve had a single cocktail and an entrée for $$$ at mediocre restaurants in Toronto. What I’d classify as the coolest bistro in St. Kitts, oddBird is definitely an eatery that you should check out.