OddFellows has finally opened. It's been more than a year since Kei Ng shuttered one of my favourite West Queen West restos - KEI - and for a long while after the space was absent of activity and prospects save for a sign in the window that hinted renovations were coming.
Then, back in February, when I connected with Ryan at Castor Design he mentioned that the Castor team of Brian Richer and Kei Ng himself were in the process of transforming the space into a unique dining, drinking and retail experience called OddFellows.
So, when OddFellows at long last opened their doors two weeks ago, I stopped by with camera in hand to discover what the space was all about.
In truth, what I expected to find was some progressive combination of retail store and dining lounge. After all, Castor is arguably one of the hottest local designers right now with their infamous tube lights gracing CiRCA, Delux, Manhattan hotels and the Nike store to name a few; and now being sold exclusively through KLAUS on King East.
But a retail store it isn't. While it's true that many of the design fixtures (including an amazing light fixture above the bar) are works of Castor, they're merely the back drop for what is essentially a cafe by day and restaurant by night. There are no price tags on anything, and nothing is for sale; although, technically, if there is interest in buying something the Castor team can certainly arrange for it to happen.
Inside, the space is defined by one long, communal table that seats around 34. While communal eating isn't anything new in this city, it's certainly rare. It will be interesting to see whether this works or not.
In warm weather months, the patio on the side (not touched much since its KEI days) handles any overflow, people looking to grab a drink or just enjoy the sights at the corner of Queen and Shaw.
During the day OddFellows just might end up being a great new cafe to hang, meet and surf the net. There's free WiFi, baked treats like banana muffins (see below) and all the usual coffee options.
For dinner, the menu (created by KEI and the head chef who used to work at La Palette) features apps like soylent greens ($6) and carpaccio ($12) and reasonably priced mains ranging from a wild boar burger ($15) to herbivore stew ($14) and grilled cheese sandwiches for late night eats.
Keep scrolling for the full menu and more photos of the space.