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Espadon @ Osmo x Marusan
Photograph: Courtesy John Mike Leblond

Espadon’s open-fire cookouts at Osmo x Marusan are one of this summer’s hottest pop-ups

Cooking on red-hot coals of an Argentinian grill, this setup from John Mike Leblond and Jessica Midlash is on fire. 🔥

JP Karwacki
Written by
JP Karwacki

If you’re seeing smoke wafting up over the corner of Sherbrooke and Saint-Laurent, there’s fire, but it’s all coming off the hot Argentinian grill of the Espadon pop-up at Osmo x Marusan—a takeover project from Marusan’s Hideyuki Imaizumi and restaurateurs Sébastien D. Langlois and David Schmidt. 

From Thursday to Sunday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. it’s a full-on BBQ party on the 80-seat outdoor patio equipped with string lights and live DJs outside O x M’s stark and sleek café-bar inside. 

"It’s like a party in itself; our strong suit is creating an ambiance with delicious food, natural wine, and cocktails, and we’re super keen on creating a complete a dining experience that’s a little bit outside of the box," explains Espadon’s chef John Mike Leblond, who cooks alongside Jessica Midlash. "It’s more rowdy, a little louder, a little more in-your-face."

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While O x M provides booze in the form of natural wines and sakes from Chinatown Caviste (connected to Schmidt, Imaizumi, and Langlois’ Fleurs et Cadeaux project in Chinatown), Espadon handles all the menus cooked on open fire. “It’s my rejuvenation, my second wind as a professional chef, and I want to put this style of food on the map in Montreal,” Leblond says. 

"We let the fire, and the flavour, speak for itself"

Cooking on Quebec wood, Leblond is working with a range of local products that run the gamut from seafood and fish of Eastern Quebec to vegetable supplier and meat from nearby regions of Montreal. It’s a style of cooking the chefs have been working with since initially launching Espadon in Nicaragua, and menu items from that first experience can be found at the event now: Grilled octopus, whole burnt and peeled eggplant that’s stuffed with whipped feta and topped with za’atar, jerk cauliflower that’s marinated for 48 hours, homemade naan and aioli for kebab sandwiches, and more.

"We let the fire, and the flavour, speak for itself," Leblond adds.

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Throughout the week, O x M continues to do a menu of Japanese sandos—katsu and tamgo (egg two ways)—plus onigiri, salads, curries with mushroom or fried shrimp in a lobster sauce from chefs Kohko Hasegawa and Hiroshi Kitano while Pain D’Épices provides pastries, cakes, cheesecake, and a grapefruit and matcha babka that Eater Montreal swears by.

The culinary occasion will last all summer “until it gets cold,” a flexible event will last so long as there’s a warm breeze in the air. Once visitors place an order, all they need to do is grab a table and either their number will come up to grab what’s ordered from the barbecue or the food will be brought to them—a little bit like Time Out Market Montréal, which puts ‘table service’ in the hands of the chefs and cooks.

While there are 80 seats to start, Osmo has a potentially 50 to 60 seats inside and an interior courtyard with another 50 seats, so this barbecue setup promises to be one of the biggest and most ambitious weekend cookout parties this city’s ever seen from a single pair of chefs. 

The Espadon pop-up will last all summer at Osmo x Marusan (51 Sherbrooke Street West), and runs from Thursday to Sunday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. No reservations.

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