Through the good shots and, sometimes, the not so good, our restaurant critics tell you about their experience, introduce the team in the dining room and in the kitchen, while explaining what motivated the choice of the restaurant. This week: Osmo x Marusan coffee.

Where the heart of the metropolis beats, very close to the corner of Saint-Laurent and Sherbrooke, Café Osmo was born in 2016, a project of the foundation of the same name, to which we owe the preservation of the Notman heritage house, which has become a start-up incubator now called Campus Notman. The café was designed in the continuity of this social mission, in order to encourage creative exchanges and meetings between the various start-up companies that pass between its walls. Since spring 2021, Osmo has partnered with Marusan. Its surprising interior space reminiscent of the brutalist architectural style and the oasis of greenery of its hidden terrace at the back remain a nice secret to discover in this nerve center of Montreal. On the menu in this “social club”: lattes, sandos, natural wines and vinyls!

David Schmidt is the brainchild behind some of the industry’s most inspiring projects: Le Mal Nécessaire and its tiki cocktails, Tiradito and its Nikkei cuisine, Le Fleurs

It’s easy to walk past the Osmo’s entrance without noticing it. Partly hidden by a green roof, set back from Clark Street, the discreet door in no way announces the place that unfolds once you have crossed the flight of stairs: an atypical space, slightly below the street, bathed in light , where concrete and green plants offer a successful marriage. It’s fairly minimalist, but nicely done up by Montreal firm MDT Mobilier, with long tables and galvanized steel fixtures. At the back, a space to shop for vinyl records and a booth where guest DJs spin every week. “We even have an ‘open deck’ system where people can offer their services, like we could do in the days of Laika. We try to revive the spirit of this place which was for me a real social club where everyone is free to express themselves,” remarks David Schmidt.

The place is a meeting place open to all. The crowd is colorful, mainly young people, students or young workers armed with their laptops or in a brainstorming session and friends chatting over a tea latte. It’s unpretentious, laid-back; we simply order at the counter and the staff comes to bring our dishes and drinks to the table.

Precisely, the cute sandos that arise in front of us are just waiting to be eaten.

The tamago sando, topped with two breaded soft-boiled eggs coated in a creamy Mornay sauce, has it all; it’s hard not to succumb to karaage – especially for fans of this Japanese-style fried chicken. New on the menu, the katsu (breaded pork with slightly sweet miso sauce) is also doing very well.

Hideyuki Imaizumi is of Japanese origin, but has lived in Montreal for over 20 years. It says “revisiting Japan” rather than offering 100% traditional food. In addition to sandos, the short menu includes a vegan curry – to which you can add katsu pork or fried chicken. The meatless version tastes great, but its smooth texture surprises: the tofu and vegetables have been mashed with the sauce. Beyond the surprise, it is true that the taste is famous; full of umami, a little flavor bomb. A dish probably more winter than summer, to accompany tsukemono (pickles of the day), such as watermelon or celery!

Of course, we serve coffee in many variations here (Montreal microroaster Escape Coffee Roaster). The tea program is also solid; we do business with the Toronto importer Hokusan and the quality can be tasted and felt in the matcha (ceremonial grade), the hojicha (Japanese roasted green tea) latte and the other specialties of the house. Natural wines, pet nat, sakes (including the very cute “in a cup” sakes), all privately imported, are on the alcoholic side, complemented by an inspiring cocktail menu (rooibos hibiscus sour, espresso martini, etc.) on Fridays and Saturday evenings.

It will cost you $10 to $13 for a sando, $15 for a curry. Other items on the menu include miso soup ($4), karaage chicken side ($6) or matcha tiramisu ($7).

Osmo x Marusan is a cafe, but also a social club. Many events and pop-up offers are held here on Fridays and Saturdays, when the doors close later in the evening. These days, Stronzato serves its pizzas cooked in a wood oven on Fridays on the terrace.

Osmo x Marusan is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and weekends from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. – and until 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.