REVIEW: OSMA: The Scandinavian cuisine which is simply seductive

As a self-proclaimed foodie bore, it is more often than not that I find myself wistfully skimming through the Michelin Guides pages, raising a brow at photographs of meticulously presented globs of sauce on petite pieces of meats galore, as if my pockets could stretch to infinite lengths. It was on one of these occasions I recognised the name OSMA. 

The two syllables themselves, catapulted me backwards in time to the hip and refined food hall, Exhibition, which opened its doors on Peter Street around the festive period of 2022. My fellow food lover friend and I had been welcomed with open arms, after being told we were some of the first ‘normie’ customers after a bustling period of press and influencers, following the quintessential trendy buzz. 

“After being ushered into my champagne leather booth, with a chestnut marble table, it became clear the place oozed a laid-back kind of sophistication.” 

Yet the food presented to us, was a far cry from an overly roused Instagrammable fad restaurant. Between Sao Paulo, by MasterChef Brazil’s, Caroline Martins, including hand dived scallops, with cassava mousseline and hearts of palm, and OSMA’s succulent beef tartare and hispi cabbage, I was left salivating for more. It is these two vendors that must answer for my lack of enjoyment of my Christmas dinner a few weeks later.

Little did I know the Michelin man would lead me on an unexpected excursion past my old student digs, through Salford, to the heart of leafy Prestwich, where OSMA’s unassuming base lies.  Contrary to its neighbour, Karen’s diner, where receiving the middle finger upon entry is to be expected, OSMA’S service was more akin to a well-oiled machine. After being ushered into my champagne leather booth, with a chestnut marble table, it became clear the place oozed a laid-back kind of sophistication. 

Oyster with shiso and shallot vinaigrette

I started with a tipple, fruity and heady, the cherry sour did the job on the packet prescription, and could fulfil any fantasies of embodying miss Del Ray herself. Then it was time for the small plates to elegantly arrive in two by twos, with a flourish. The order of which, had been cleverly coordinated, and not just when ready.

The small sharing plates menu was split into a mixture of hot and cold dishes. I opted for a solitary oyster as a pleasingly refreshing palette cleanser, paired with a tangy shiso and shallot vinaigrette. Following this, came a couple of the petite two per portion hot dishes; filo pastry stuffed with asparagus, feta, and mint, drizzled with truffle honey, as well as the lamb belly croquettes with wild garlic mayo.

Behind: Filo pastry stuffed with asparagus, feta, and mint, drizzled with truffle honey. In front: Lamb belly croquettes with wild garlic mayo.

We were off to a rocky start with the filo dish, due to my friend flinging it with great aplomb onto her plate in anticipation. The pastry itself was a little chewy, perhaps slightly skimping out on the feta, but it was made worthwhile with the generous burst of truffle flavour glazed on top in a sticky hue.

Despite that, the croquettes solely impressed, with succulent lamb meat which slipped apart like butter and each ball letting out a bellowing puff of smoke when pierced, complimented by a rich goo green garlic mayo.

Next came out the St Austell mussels with Aji Amarillo chilli cream, pecorino and garlic and the celeriac skewers with miso spring onion and truffle.  A drinkable tangerine coloured broth imbued the mussels, with a generous shaving of the pecorino cheese, adding an element of nuttiness, to the discreetly ocean mussel flavour. Meanwhile the celeriac was chewy but would pop in your mouth with a juicy piquant flavour, with hints of apple and the subtle crunch of the spring onion. A dish I’d recommend for vegetarians as it substituted a meat like satiety and was drizzled with dollops of creamy miso glaze. 

Celeriac skewers with miso spring onion and truffle

As a mushroom fanatic I’d been eagerly awaiting a deep and earthy dish, with the fresh tagliolini with wild mushrooms, celeriac and Lincolnshire poacher cheddar. But alas the wheaty tagliolini’s bouncy texture reminded me of a Konjac noodle, and the glistening green sauce, however attractive plopped on top of marble earthenware, perhaps lacked depth of flavour. 

Fresh tagliolini with wild mushrooms, celeriac and Lincolnshire poacher cheddar.

Nevertheless, I opened the gates to my third stomach for the finale of a beautifully cooked seabass, with artichoke, hazelnut fish cream, nasturtium and apple. The sturdy artichoke, seemed to be the ideal vessel for the sauce, soaking up the juices and gushing them out again after hitting the lips and the pairing of the crunchy apple with a nutty velvet sauce, was an ingenious choice.

Osma is a woman ran business, owned by Sofie and Danielle, hailing from Oslo and Manchester, which is where the name itself takes inspiration from, as a fusion of both. Our waiter told us that the menu is not only seasonal, but changes weekly, with the team meeting on Wednesdays to try another week’s worth of inventions and tantalising pairings alike. 

Seabass, with artichoke, hazelnut fish cream, nasturtium and apple.

I could not depart without at least endeavouring to try a dessert dish from Osma’s dynamic menu. I decided upon what I assumed would be no more than a petite sweet treat, with the disguisable name rose truffle, but in reality, was a generous block of chocolatey galore. Thick and formidable with a voluptuously moody texture, which certainly left me swooned and ready to be rolled home along the M62 back to Yorkshire. 

Chocolate Rose Truffle.

Three beverages, one bottle of water and eight courses came to a tolerable price of £129.69 for the two of us, with the service charge included. Certainly not an everyday endeavour, but when you’ve saved up your hard earned cash to splash out on a particularly memorable date night and do not want experience or taste to disappoint, OSMA, should be high on your list of contenders.

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