Fans of the food at The Whalesbone and Town have been watching and waiting to see where Chef Steve Wall will turn up next. Known for signature flavour-bomb dishes like tuna crudo with lemon and truffle and melt-in-the-mouth chicken liver crostini, Wall had tongues wagging (and salivating) when he announced a few months ago that he was leaving the executive chef position at Luxe to open his own place called Supply and Demand Foods & Raw Bar.
Wall had planned his menu long before he found his location (not to mention the ongoing process of rounding up a gaggle of investors). But this week he contacted City Bites to share the news that he has secured the space at 1335 Wellington St. W. at the corner of Ross Street, currently occupied by Santorini Greek Family Restaurant (previously a hair salon and a bank).
Ottawa Magazine introduced many readers to Wall back in 2007 in a feature in which he was profiled among the city’s most promising culinary talents. At the time, the 23-year-old cook from Atlantic Canada was taking over for celebrated chef Steve Vardy at The Whalesbone Oyster House. (Vardy called him “one of the best cooks I’ve ever worked with.”)
Wall found a new wave of devotees when he reappeared in 2010 as the opening chef at Town; helping to define its distinctive menu. Wall eventually left Town to become executive chef at Luxe in July 2011, but like Rene Rodriguez before him, many of us knew it would just be a matter of time before we’d see this culinary virtuoso strike out on his own. And we were right. Wall says an opening date hasn’t yet been set but that Supply & Demand will likely open in late-December or early in the New Year. The place will have 58-60 seats (about 10 seats more than Town and about 20 more than Whalesbone).
Wall’s wife, Jennifer — a server at Town since it opened — is a partner in the new restaurant and Steve says it is her design sensibilities that will define the look and feel of the place. The seahorse in the logo (also appearing on the wallpaper that will be used on at least one wall) plays an important role in capturing the quirky and unusual nautical theme. Wall says they are staying away from the industrial look and rustic reclaimed wood that has become de rigueur right down to his local Starbucks. “Jen’s going for a classic look,” he says. “Bentwood chairs, old hexagon tiles on the floor, tufted banquettes.”
Wall will tap into his East Coast connections to bring in the freshest fish and seafood possible — even picking it up at the airport himself. “It’s so important the way you treat the product,” says Wall.” Like wrapping the fish in linen at the end of the night or having a shaved ice machine on the line — it’s the details that make the difference.
The menu will start with raw and marinated items — duck, oysters, razor clams — and then there will be 3 or 4 meat and fish dishes. “I’m so tired of the composed main course plates with protein, veg, and starch. I love the fresh stuff, the lighter stuff with salt and acid that gets you salivating so you can drink more.”
When Supply & Demand opens, it will serve dinner only — no late-night menu, no lunch, no brunch. “We want to do one thing and do it well and focus on it,” says Wall. “Every day, me and the cooks just want to go in there and be obsessive compulsive about what we do.”