It was pouring rain as I exited the cab in search of Cafe Osmo.
Surely in the midst of a downpour people would rather stay at home, I thought.
My eyes searched the ground level and landed on a gas station. According to my GPS I was in the right place.
Tucked half a level down from the ground level, I saw the entrance for Cafe Osmo, and hurriedly crossed the street to get indoors. Cafe Osmo is housed within the Notman House, named after William Notman, Canadian photographer and businessman (8 March 1826 – 25 November 1891).
I shook off my umbrella and surveyed the space. Comfortable, deep-seated bright teal chairs circled the tables, and circular skylights welcomed natural light from above, to create a safe haven from the downpour.
Patrons stared into their laptops, some on headphones, some huddled in what appeared to be work groups. In the back area, comfortable, lived-in leather couches invited customers to relax and sink deeply into the chairs, adding warmth to the concrete and steel design elements of the cafe. On a sunny day, the spacious, landscaped patio would be open, and customers would sip their coffee and do their work in the sunshine.
One of the reasons why many choose to work at Cafe Osmo is because of their location, which is the basement floor to the Notman House. The Notman House is now a technology hub that provides office, event, and communal space for startups, investors, technology partners, and community group, and Cafe Osmo is the cafeteria for all the startups in the building. The high-ceiling indoor space with natural light and hanging greens naturally also attracts groups to use the space for special events.
After I had settled at one of the tables, the first thing I ordered was a hot cup of coffee before contemplating which dishes I would try. Cafe Osmo is known for offering a full menu, meaning you can either grab a delicious pastry (most are made in-house with the exception of the croissants) or a lunch meal from one of their seasonal creations. The cafe has its own gardens on the second floor, and seasonal vegetables are integrated into the menu items.
The first item we tried was the Tomato Pie puff pastry. The buttery, flaky base with the tangy tomatoes, dijon cheddar, yogurt, peach sumac and fine herbs from the garden is a great savory, warming pick.
For those who want a light salad and protein for lunch, the refreshing zucchini salad with olive oil, green olives, sliced onions, hard-boiled eggs and fresh herbs from the garden would be your go-to. Simple and fresh ingredients don’t require fancy cooking techniques - they taste great as is!
I definitely recommend grabbing one of the tasty croissants on your way out, and suggest Cafe Osmo if you are looking for an inspiring space to work and surround yourself with other ambitious entrepreneurs!
51 Sherbrooke St W, Montreal
Photos: Florence Leung