Sherman's Food Adventures: Opus Co

Opus Co

More than ever, it seems that some independent restaurants (those that are not part of a chain) are taking more risks as in offering up nose-to-tail cookery.  Furthermore, the farm-to-table movement is becoming more mainstream where diners are focusing on quality and fresh ingredients.  Of course, that usually comes at a price and frankly, a large chain would have a hard time with that kind of commitment.  That is where a small place such as the newish Opus Co comes into the picture.  This was something that fit Miss Y like a glove as the "Opus Feast" was as Paleo as it gets for dining out.

The aforementioned Feast is their tasting menu for $50.00pp that features shared plates that are chosen by the chef.  We decided to sit right at Chef's Counter where we could watch our food being prepared.  We began with a small Charcuterie Plate consisting of house-made sweet capocollo with sesame salt, lamb spam and turnip with shrimp paste.  This was a simple plate that highlighted their use of Asian seasoning.  We loved the lamb spam (made with cured lamb belly and trimmings) as it was meaty and lean while being easy on the salt.  The fermented saltiness of the shrimp pasted turned an ordinary turnip into something flavourful and impactful.

Next up was the Kale Salad with roasted squash, Asian pear, peanut sauce and cilantro vinaigrette.  This was another flavour explosion thanks to the aggressive use of the tangy and bright dressing.  I appreciated the restraint with the cilantro as it can be overpowering if not used properly.  Due to the intense briny saltiness, it appeared there was fish sauce in the vinaigrette. We did agree that there was probably just a tad too much dressing though.  The robust texture of the kale did stand up to the strong flavours though while the peanut sauce added creamy aromatics.

Onto the mains, we shared the Pan-Seared Steelhead with kasu "risotto", beets and grilled treviso.  If there was perfection in preparing the steelhead, this would be it.  The skin was appealingly crispy and well-salted while the flesh was just barely cooked through which meant it was flaky, moist and buttery.  On the side, the beets were tender and sweet while the grilled treviso was crunchy and lightly bitter.  By employing the leftover lees from sake-making, the kasu riostto was an interesting addition where it was soft and lightly creamy with a bright and only mild sake background flavour.

From fish, we went with Pork Belly with crispy rice with pork fat and dressed with fermented black bean sesame dust.  Another side consisted of salted radish.  The rolled piece of roasted pork belly was sliced and then seared.  The result was a wealth of fatty aromatics combined with the caramelization of flavours.  We could really taste the pork since it was not overseasoned (this was a good thing).  It was super buttery and tender where it didn't take much effort to cut and chew.  The rice was crispy and chewy with the essence of pork fat while the dust added a nutty saltiness that accented the pork.

Our last savoury item was the Lamb Loin rubbed with anchovy and garlic atop a miso creme fraiche accompanied by pickles.  Prepared a beautiful medium-rare (close to rare in some parts which was fine by us), the meat was succulent and fatty sporting caramelized exterior.  The flavours were intense with a briny saltiness, yet restrained enough that it didn't overshadow the delicious fattiness of the lamb.  The side of pickles added an acidity and crunch that helped cut through the fatiness.

For dessert, we were presented with a duo consisting of Bay Leaf Buttermilk Ice Cream with candied squash and a cranberry shortbread cookie as well as Carrot Cake with a sticky marmalade on top.  Creamy and lightly woodsy, the ice cream was purposefully sweet.  Loved the robust sweet squash on the side.  As for the carrot cake, it was fluffy and light where the sweetness was surprisingly restrained.  Even the marmalade was not over-sweet.  As you can plainly see, we enjoyed our meal at Opus Co where the food is interesting and well-prepared.  The Feast is an incredible value and I just might head back when I'm in town.

The Good:
- Well-prepared proteins
- Interesting and good use of Asian flavours
- Well-priced

The Bad:
- Super small dining space


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