Scrolling through social media, I noticed a story about a new restaurant in Garretson that specializes in soul food dubbed “O” So Good. Creeping further into the social media rabbit hole, I saw co-owner and executive chef Omar Thornton (the “O” in the business name) has the restaurant, along with a candy shop, coffee shop, and bakery on 3rd and Main Avenue.
Becoming more and more intrigued, our art director and I headed to the small town to see what it’s all about for ourselves. We met Thornton and were taken to the large back room past the coffee shop and bakery to the restaurant. Classic jazz filled the air, which worked well with the eclectic ambience that included a piano and tall stage intended for live music, comedy, and other entertainment. The layout has an open kitchen that literally is among the patrons’ tables. You get to see all of the action, and a couple of times we turned around and asked Thornton questions as he was cooking (which was neat for us, but I’m sure annoying for him).
Thornton, who is super friendly and still very excited from the recent June opening, is eager to have everyone try his food, which he clarified is “not necessarily soul food,” as everyone has been saying.
“It’s more food with Southern flair,” he said, explaining that he grew up in Louisiana. “So all of these are ethnic and other foods I grew up eating in the area, like Cajun pasta, seafood, and fried bread.”
Looking at his website post-tasting, it was interesting to see his inspiration behind the dishes. It states that “O” So Good’s beginnings came from “street style” foods and food trucks, only using whatever ingredients he absolutely needed (it also explains this is because he came from a low income home, and this is how they cooked “to feed the family”).
Ready and hungry, we were served our first dish – the Naked BLT w/ Fruit Cup. The “different” flavored bacon was laid out on a bed of romaine lettuce, topped with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese. This could be eaten with silverware or as a lettuce wrap. Lettuce wraps stress me out (I’m weird, I know), so I chose silverware. The tomatoes were juicy and ripe, and the mozzarella was perfection mixed with that and the lettuce. Let’s talk about that bacon, though. I don’t know how he prepared it, or what “different” flavors means, but whatever makes it different makes it the best. Talk about the definition of crunchy bacon.
As we both were overly impressed with the bacon, my partner in crime mentioned that she appreciated that the dish was so light. “When I think of BLT, I think heavy and full, which is sometimes too much,” she said.
Next up was the Open Face Crab Cake. Advertised as “full of flavor and spice and everything nice” on the menu, the crab cake was placed on a light, buttered, toasted bread, surrounded by mixed salad, and topped off with their famous yogurt sauce. Thornton describes the yogurt sauce as the “ranch of the South,” and says he refuses to carry ranch, so patrons give his sauce a try.
And try it we did. The sauce was drizzled over the dish. Eating the crab cake alone was a delight, as it melted in our mouths. Add the sauce and salad, and the flavors all made the ideal combination. Let’s just say we normally eat a little bit and save room for the next item for food reviews, but this one happened to disappear.
Thornton came over to check on us and explained that though this dish is listed as a sandwich, he only uses one piece of bread since people tend to remove the top piece from being overwhelmed. He also said he “sneaks” salad on the bottom of a lot of his options to get his customers to “eat more greens.”
“I’m like your momma – I’m gonna make you eat ‘em,” he smiled.
He was 1,000 percent correct. Unless I’m absolutely craving it, I won’t choose salad. If you put a salad as a side, I probably won’t touch it, or I’ll nibble a few bites. Putting it underneath had me eating the whole thing. I was (successfully) bamboozled!
Thinking of different dietary restrictions and lifestyles, the restaurant also has meatless options. We tried the Mushroom Melt, which was loaded mushrooms on a bed of mixed salad (he strikes again!) and five types of cheeses. It was garnished with their tomato-based mushroom sauce.
It didn’t help that my co-worker hates mushrooms, but I love them. To be completely honest, I wasn’t totally excited with this appetizer. The sauce seemed a bit too much and strange to eat with the spinach, and I couldn’t really taste the cheeses as much as I would have liked. The mushrooms were large and flavorful, and I did enjoy it overall. Just compared to everything else, it didn’t shine, but I know this is a great option for a vegetarian.
For our entrée, we had the Cajun Seafood Pasta. This is one of my favorite pasta dishes, so I was excited to try his take. We found out Thornton is obsessed with shrimp, so this is always one of the three types of seafood, and is sautéed with garlic, spinach, and tomato, and is served with fried bread.
I found it interesting that in the menu in a huge text box, it says, “Please ask your server what kind of seafood.” When it comes to seafood, I like it, but I don’t order it often, so I was confused. Now I know why (they rotate). Our seafood included the shrimp, scallops, and calamari. The moment I realized it was calamari was when I scooped up noodles and a tentacle revealed itself, causing me to go wide-eyed in panic.
“What is it?” asked my co-worker.
She looked at me in disappointment when I pointed at it, and she stabbed a piece and ate it. “It’s good,” she said, her eyes still showing judgment.
The shrimp was thicker and more substantial than most I’ve had in South Dakota. And the scallops were soft and full of flavor, which went very well with the pasta. A little bit of kale was on the side, and adding that to everything added a different and yummy taste.
Last, but not least, we ate (three) desserts. See box above (spoiler: they’re worth the trip alone).
Being only 30 minutes from Sioux Falls, it’s a great, quick getaway to try a different menu, and to feel the unique, jazzy atmosphere. It’s even more entertaining if you can plan to go for an event (check their website and Facebook for updates). Shrimp is in many of the dishes (but many do not, so no worries), so shrimp lovers shall rejoice!
We had the chance to meet baker Kimberly Grimm, who makes their baked goods. The Key Lime Pie and Pineapple Upside-Down Cake gave us goosebumps and are some of the rotating goods they make. The Hummingbird Cake (a staple in the South) is always available.
A surfboard, the stage, a piano, lounge seating, blue lighting, and eclectic signs and prints add a fun, personal setting. It’s almost as if you’re in Thornton’s house, and feels that way even more so when he’s actually cooking right in front of you.
From what we ate, the Naked BLT was $5.50, the Mushroom Melt was $7, and the Cajun Pasta (with three seafood options) was only $11.50. It’s so cheap for the quality and what you get. It’s almost a steal (but we like it that way).
That was the best crab cake we’ve ever had. And the pasta was delicious. The best part was Thornton said people can request to make the pasta as tame or as spicy as they’d like, though I thought it was great as is. The Key Lime Pie was my favorite in the world (that crust, though), and I’m glad this was my introduction to Hummingbird Cake (it tastes like a giant piece of banana bread cake with some pineapple).
Rating Scale: Ambiance ++++ | Average Price Per Meal: $—$10 & under; $$—$20 & under; $$$—$30 & under; $$$$—over $30 | Taste ++++
It’s the Facts
The restaurant serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays.
Hours include the coffeehouse and treats Monday-Friday 7-9:30 a.m., the restaurant and coffeehouse are open 4-9 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. and 4-9p.m. Friday-Saturday, and 9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
“O” So Good has nights of entertainment, like the upcoming Comedy Dinner September 9 at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $45-$75 and includes a three-course meal.