Neighbourhood: South Osborne
Address: 725 Osborne St
At the time of Prohibition and other restrictive liquor laws, many illegal establishments hid dining rooms and bars behind front businesses, often exhibits of natural wonders or animal curiosities, earning the nickname “blind tigers”.
South Osborne’s Blind Tiger Kitchen + Bar takes up this moniker with tongue in cheek, presenting an earnest fondness for the past with a sleekly modern twist.
Antique chic décor adorns exposed brick walls, from wrought iron farming implements to an abstract art piece made from a deconstructed piano. Paired with slick dark tones, leather, and a gleaming backlit bar, the space easily blends old and new.
There is food to match, flowing steadily from an open kitchen. Elegance on the plate plays well with the convivial atmosphere, backdropped by lively chatter and the fragrant hisses of sautéing and simmering. Excitement for a dining hub along the South Osborne strip keeps the room hopping with neighbourhood diners and food lovers from across the city.
The menu betrays a fondness for the classic sauces, proteins, and techniques of classic French cooking, with dishes and components that have fallen out of favour in restaurant kitchens revived in clever new applications.
An appetizer of grilled prawns balances contemporary trends with this throwback predilection, pairing the shellfish with pickled lettuce and sauce Americaine, a misnomer historically served in Provence. Alongside Francophone favourites like escargot and chicken livers, delicate devilled eggs make an appearance on the selection of appies, piped with light as air yolk.
Old school French staples make up the entrée selection, like bouillabaisse and niçoise salad. Several steaks with pairings from bourguignon to sauce chasseur suggest the presence of a saucier in the narrow open kitchen.
Dips into bistro fare include mountains of perfectly tender mussels in classic preparations. A Normandy-style rendition is simmered in a creamy broth, umami-laced from pops of bacon and topped with tart matchsticks of green apple. Thin and crispy frites under a heap of funky Parmesan are perfect for sopping up broth.
Oversized pillows of Parisian-style gnocchi underscore a creative willingness to take influence from all areas of French cuisine. The vegetarian dish gets protein and heft from meaty oyster mushrooms, tossed in a pistou redolent of fresh basil.
Service is without pretension, blending airs of fine dining and a comfortable neighbourhood haunt. In keeping with the tribute to classic French cuisine, a glassy, smooth crème brûlée is in order. Despite a concept based around secrecy, the recent removal of the window blinds reveals a lively room, an invitation to settle in over another cocktail or dessert.
Blind Tiger is open Mon-Thu 11:30 am-12 am, Fri 11:30 am-1 am, Sat 5 pm-1 am, Sun 5 pm-12 am.