Flocks of Blue Owl lunch and late-night fans can now feed their cravings at nearly every meal with the restaurant spreading its wings for dinner service. “We’re both night people, so we want to be open for dinner,” says Cindy Black of her and co-chef Toi Dennis’s decision to expand.
Talking with these two SBCC Culinary School alumni in their charmingly eclectic Canon Perdido space, the inventive energy is palpable as they bounce ideas off one another, crack jokes, share stories, and lay the groundwork for addictive new creations.
“It feels like family,” said Dennis. “We are in it because we love it.”
Guests can expect plenty of new dishes with the same focus on providing tasty and creative food to their loyal customers and supporting area businesses. Their rotating selection of craft beers includes M. Special and Telegraph, and wines feature notable neighbors such as Municipal Winemakers and emerging Tatomer Wines, by Riesling wunderkind Graham Tatomer, Black’s former Wine Cask colleague.
“We’re happy to support other businesses by having local wine, beer, bread, and farmers’ market produce,” Black said.
While there are plenty of new surprises, including Black’s own sherry punch and white sangria, a late-night buffet for those revelers who simply can’t wait to order, and a rotating breakfast for the dinner menu, the focus remains on quality food and fun for customers.
“I want them to leave fat, happy, and full. I want it to be casual and for them to have a good time,” Black said.
Entering the small, bustling bistro for their first dinner service on a rainy Thursday night, serenaded by a live jazz trio, and gazing through large raindrop-spotted windows onto the busy street, I wasn’t sure if I was in S.B. or N.Y.C. What I was sure of was the deliciousness of the food in front of me. Here’s a taste:
Hand-Pulled Noodles: Whether you order these hand-torn creations with pork or roasted mushroom and fried tofu, rain or shine, this is a dish you could really curl up with. The thick, doughy noodles sautéed in a flavorful soy vinegar sauce, with cilantro, green onions, bean sprouts, snap peas, and chili paste, satisfy all cravings.
Guy Fieri Busts His Britches Burger: “There’s a lot of burger competition around us, so we had to go big, and then make it nastier,” Black explained of her inspiration for the dish which goes beyond a diner, drive-in, or dive burger with Rancho San Julian beef, Stilton cheese, bacon, fried duck egg, fried shallots, date ketchup, and hollandaise.
Farmer’s Sink Salad: Perhaps the perfect antidote for the aforementioned burger, this salad proves Black’s statement: “We wanted something for everyone.” Their mix of farmers’ market, seasonal veggies, organic mixed greens, and thyme vinaigrette is sure to please carnivores and vegans alike.
The Seasonal Berry Shortcake: Mulberry is the featured fruit, and if you haven’t tried one of these sweet and slightly tangy local gems, this shortcake made up of buttermilk biscuits, whipped cream, and flavorful berry sauce is the perfect vehicle.
TFC (Toi’s Fried Chicken): “I love home food, any kind of home food,” Dennis said of her ultimate comfort-food dish of buttermilk cornflake fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and biscuits with a honey-thyme glaze.
Shrimp Guacamole: The strangest combinations can be the most irresistible. Case in point: This mix of rich avocado, shrimp, pico de gallo, feta, and cilantro is served with tortilla chips and spectacular sesame toasts for serious scooping.
Open Tuesday-Saturday for lunch at 11 a.m.-3 p.m, Wednesday-Saturday for dinner at 5:30-9 p.m., and Friday-Saturday late-night until 2:30 a.m.; 5 West Canon Perdido Street; (805) 705-0991; blueowlsb.com