Kudos to Osa
I’ve badgered chef Matt Wick about Osa’s imminent opening every time I’ve run into him for the last year or so. And his answer has always been, “soon!” Well soon finally arrived, and we sped up to Middletown to check out this new eatery under Krust’s umbrella.
One imagines that Matt has spent the time carefully considering the attributes of wild herbs, how to best preserve blueberries, and crafting artful combinations of unusual flavors. This guy’s ideas about local food, how it’s grown, prepared, and presented are serious, to say the least. He’s got a pedigree, too, as ex-head chef at both River Tavern and Otto.
Spare and clad in pine planks, the room has an L.A. meets chalet vibe that is perfectly suited to its clientele of hipsters, foodie freaks, a sprinkling of college students, and regular old people like us. A communal table runs the length of the room ending at a cozy bar, serving up craft cocktails (try the Salers Adrift, a fizzy and light concoction of Salers Aperitivo, Chopin rye vodka, strawberries, and prosecco). You’ll need that drink because you’ll want to take your time with the menu which begs for your complete attention. Segmented into a small section of snacks, then a long list of complex small plates, plus a few main dishes, all meant to be shared. Interesting. While perusing, order some snacks for the table: cracklings for sure, shishito peppers, and Stonington shrimp with crumbs of andouille went well with our cocktails.
Next, we tried almost everything between the four of us. Service is quick; plates arriving at the table in minutes (which allowed us to double up on the luscious Lamb Agnolotti in smoked tomato sauce with salty olive crumbs!). The salad of Mystic’s Melinda Mae cheese, sweet and sour blueberries, and purslane was almost too pretty to eat. Fall flavors are introduced with ringlets of roasted Delicata squash, blue cheese, apple, and spruce. We kept at it with a riff on potato skins: new potatoes stuffed with smoked fish mousse and cured pork (the girls liked this one, the boys not so much).
For main dishes, we were advised to share. The whole poussin, with sweet and sour baby eggplant, cherry tomatoes and freshly picked lettuces, was out of this world. We picked it to the bone (a pathologist at the table with knife skills helped). The chicken is first cooked sous vide, then wood-fire roasted, with a result so succulent and tasty, I’ll be dreaming about it. Desserts were all about fruits of the season: roasted peaches covered in a mound of whipped cream scented with woodruff, and a picture-perfect strawberry semifreddo. This is experimental dining at its best, in simple surroundings, with delightful and honest servers, and prices that won’t break the bank. Thoughtful, deliberate, and genius.
Good to know: no reservations. Go early. Save me a seat.
Open Wednesday thru Saturday from 5pm. 500 Main Street, Middletown osarestaurant.com