Harmons Steakhouse opens at Elgin St. with chef Michael Korn at the helm – Apartment613



In late September, Ottawa’s newest steakhouse, Harmons, quietly opened its doors to the public. Although work on the restaurant is still unfinished, diners were invited to see, experience and taste what is finished, and the reviews so far are very positive.

At the helm is chef de cuisine Michael Korn, a veteran of Ottawa’s finer cuisines and formerly a senior saucer at Beckta. He moved to the Whalesbone group for the opening of their Elgin St. location that quickly rose through the ranks from senior chef to chef de cuisine, a position he held for four years. Korn credits the group’s head chef, Michael Radford, for helping him develop into a chef and leader.

“He has been a really important mentor to me,” says Korn.

During his time at Whalesbone Elgin, Korn was particularly interested in the hardening and aging chamber the restaurant had installed.

A tomahawk steak in dry storage, perfectly cooked and rested with salt. Photo by Kim Vincent.

“First, we bought dry-stored meat and just finished it in our chamber,” Korn recalls. “It was okay, but it was not our. I knew we could handle the whole process. So we bought some non-aged meat for the restaurant, put it in the chamber — and then the longest 40 days of my life began. ”

Patience and a few sleepless nights paid off, as the meat had actually aged properly. Korn and his team got the green light to age all their own meat and perform experiments with more than just beef. Ducks, veal, pork and lamb have all been treated in that space, drying, aging and becoming increasingly tasteful.

“The smell of properly aged meat, cooking of steaks you’ve stored internally, those are always proud moments for me,” Korn says.

The dry aging program gave Whalesbone Elgin its own identity. Although it was still a fantastic seafood restaurant, it also boasted a fantastic selection of aged steaks and chops, with Chef Korn keeping a watchful eye on them all.

So when the Whalesbone group decided to open a steakhouse, they had already lined up their secret weapons.

“Pete [McCallum, majority owner] came to me and asked me if I wanted to open a steakhouse, ”says Korn. “He brought me into the room, which was still Fox & Feather. I was floored and thinking about opening a restaurant of this size during a pandemic, three blocks from our current store. ”

Any insecurity chef Korn may have had was pushed aside as he accepted the new role. Due to his good status in the restaurant community, many former colleagues reached out, eager to work with him again.

“It has been humiliating,” he says, “and a little unexpected to have chefs I have worked with in the past call you to be a part of this project. I have always tried to cure an environment of positivity where my chefs can be successful. It’s a very pleasing part of the job. ”

Yet Harmons still needs staff to reach its full potential.

The full Harmony experience will ultimately accommodate a trio of concepts. Harmons proper will be upstairs: A beautiful, sumptuous steakhouse that Ottawa may not have seen since Hy closed down.

Harmony’s sumptuous, yet chic dining room upstairs. Photo by Kim Vincent.

Downstairs in an equally lovely 40-seater room will be Abby’s, again named after Abby Harmon, whose school for young ladies was the original tenant of the building. This room will boast lighter bistro dishes with the same emphasis on vegetables and fish along with meat.

The other side of Harmon’s main floor will be a slaughterhouse and bodega that sells all the pieces of meat you can eat at Harmon’s to take home, as well as a selection of homemade spices, sauces and curated items. Chef Korn smiles as he thinks about what the bodega can develop into.

“I hope it can fill the void that Boushey’s leaves,” he says. “We could cure a good selection of cheese, start making charcuterie in the house. And if we were to do that, then there’s no reason we could not run a sandwich counter for lunch. Of course, if it took off, then meals could be a different path in the future. There’s just so much potential here. ”

Korn knows how important it is that people have different ways of enjoying Harmons. Lessons learned during the pandemic are used here. “This will be a place you can experience the way you want,” he says. “Whether it’s a big festive evening for a fantastic A5 Wagyu steak and all the sides, or a few quick plates at Abby’s, or even taking a steak to grill at home in the backyard, we want people to know that we are more than one destination once a year. ”

As the work continues, Harmons will continue to evolve. There are plans for a chilled seafood section on the menu, and Caesar salads at the table are also underway.

Canadian Prime steaks with the house’s Bearnaise sauce, perfectly made at Harmon’s. Photo by Kim Vincent.

“Most of all, we try to offer comfort. We take good ingredients, do not overmanipulate them, and give you the best version of what these products can be. It’s a bit of mom’s cooking, done in restaurant style. Simple, identifiable food. ”

While Chef Korn is quick to say that Harmon’s was not opened to him, one can easily trace the steakhouse’s steps back to the dry chamber. Korn’s ability to store meat, his honest approach to food and his humble leadership style made him an easy choice to lead this massive new venture.

“My hope for the future is that we are unusually proud that the food leaves the kitchens, but just as proud of the people here. That we continue to have a positive, productive work area for people. I hope that in five years we can sit back and reflect and know that it was worth it that we have done something positive for the city, the people who work here and those who come here to enjoy it, we make. ”

Harmons Steakhouse is now open at 283 Elgin Street in the former Fox & Feather room.

Leave a Comment