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Brian Montgomery, the co-owner of Oat Couture Oatmeal Café, wants to change how people in Ottawa look at their morning bowl of oats.
“People have been putting things on oatmeal for centuries and as a grain it’s no different than quinoa or rice in terms of what you can do with,” Montgomery said. “But it’s stuck in this breakfast slot.”
The new restaurant at 1154 Bank St., in Old Ottawa South, turns the classic porridge into a meal for any time of day, featuring bowls with toppings like beef brisket, caramelized onions, crispy prosciutto and goat cheese. For people with a sweet tooth, other bowls include shredded coconut, pumpkin spice puree, toasted marshmallow or whipped cream.
Trying oatmeal with unusual ingredients is hard for some people at first, Montgomery said, but most people end up liking it. The Kyoto bowl, with beef brisket, shiitake mushrooms, pineapple, peanut, sesame and green onion, is one of the most ordered things on the menu because it sounds so different, he said.
The idea for Oat Couture came after realizing the lack options for healthy, fast casual food in Ottawa. Other than shawarma or big chain restaurants, Montgomery said he found it hard to find something that was healthy but also tasted good.
“You should be able to eat healthy food on the run rather than going to a fine dining, white tablecloth kind of restaurant,” he said.
“There’s a couple notable salad chains and they’re doing a great job if you want a salad, which I don’t because I’ll be hungry in 20 minutes.”
Oat Couture opened on April 3 after seven months of renovations to space. Montgomery opened the café with chef Ben Baird, formerly of the Urban Pear, who designed the menu and came up with the idea to add savoury ingredients to oatmeal bowls. The restaurant has already become part of the community, he said, and sales have been better than expected.
Montgomery said the concept of a restaurant specializing in oatmeal is unique in Canada. There are a few other resaurants that make gourmet oatmeal, he said, but they are in the United States and Europe.
Each bowl also comes with an ingredient to stir in, which saves people from having a dish of unflavoured oats after eating everything on top.
“It makes it good all the way to the bottom, otherwise you get that big puck of oats at the end. I didn’t want to see oats going into the garbage all the time,” Montgomery said.
The rest of the family is also involved in the business. Montgomery said his wife is running the operations of the café, his daughter runs the restaurant’s social media accounts and his son works in the prep kitchen preparing the ingredients for the oatmeal bowls. A photo mural of Montgomery’s father, uncle and grandfather on a hunting trip is also displayed on the back wall of the restaurant. He said it’s an iconic family photo and thinks his relatives would have had a bowl of oatmeal in the morning before setting off hunting.
Montgomery said he’s thinking about expanding to more locations in Ottawa and possibly bringing Oat Couture’s creative take on oatmeal to other cities.
Oat Couture is open daily from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.