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Introducing: Fishbar, the new Ossington seafood restaurant from the people behind Salt

Fishbar’s dining room is adorned with Edison lights and salvaged and reclaimed furniture (Image: Gizelle Lau)

After keeping eager would-be patrons waiting for almost six months, Fishbar, the new restaurant from William Tavares (co-owner of Salt Wine Bar just a few doors away), will officially open tomorrow. We snuck in during Fishbar’s soft opening to see what it was all about and meet the staff Tavares has assembled for the front and back of the house.

Committed to using as many local and seasonal ingredients as possible, Fishbar relies on trusted purveyors like 100km Foods and Hooked, and is thus able to offer a fish selection that’s largely Ocean Wise certified. The evolving menu is made up of tapas-style dishes, backed by a list of 12 whites and 10 reds by the glass. Specialties include oyster platters (at least five varieties offered every day) at market price, wild-caught shrimp cocktail with Mississippi cocktail sauce ($13), and St. Ambrose beer-battered fish and chips, made with line-caught haddock and served with house tartar sauce ($10).

At the front of the house is Jamie Duran, who has over 25 years of experience in restaurants like Centro, Le Sélect Bistro and Chiado (where he and Tavares first met almost a decade ago). Behind Fishbar’s oyster selection is Mark Moore, who learned the trade during an eight-year stint at Rodney’s Oyster House, Fishbar’s current oyster provider. In the kitchen, chef David Friedman (Table 17, Kaiseki Sakura, Fuzion) executes Tavares’s vision for Fishbar: “[to] take the flavours of fish and make them exciting, innovative, better.”

After a complete renovation to the space (previously home to Todo Fusion Resto-Bar), Fishbar leaves no trend behind. Retro garage-style fixtures show off bare Edison bulbs, which warm up the space and illuminate the exposed brick walls. Repurposed 1950s school chairs are paired with banquettes made from reclaimed butcher’s block wood (both from the Junction’s Smash) to provide seating in the main dining room. Tables are natural elm wood with high, bar-style seating in the front and back of the room.

Fishbar, 217 Ossington Ave., 647-340-0227,

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  • foodie

    Great article as usual – i will have to drop in soon.
    Just a correction to mention, i believe that there is no association between FISH BAR and SALT wine bar except that FISH bar is run by an ex-employee of SALT (Mr. Tavarez).
    Did i get this info right??

  • allthingsfood

    i believe you’re right.
    i heard he left salt to work on fishbar

  • cookie

    Cannot wait to try . Please share what days/hours Fishbar will be open ?

    Dinner only or lunch and or weekend brunch ? Not mentioned in your article or on their web site or twitter

  • gastrognome

    Went last night to the eagerly anticipated fishbar. Always on the lookout for a great fish and seafood place – and the menu reads like a dream. All the more reason to be utterly disappointed in the experience on every level:

    -back-breaking wood benches
    -staff moving around at a frenetic pace without really doing/accomplishing much (at one point a server came over, looked me in the eyes and asked if we wanted more water. I replied affirmatively. She proceeded to fill one of my companion’s glasses, then turned and walked away. hmm.)
    -ordered a wide variety of dishes (mostly small plates) to share with three people and none excited the palate whatsoever. total lack of seasoning, poor presentation, no finesse, no creativity.

    I get the bare bones, let the product be the star of the show concept – but this requires an immaculate preparation and presentation, and sadly, no dish accomplishes this.

    Guess I’m still fishing.

  • R

    Was really excited about going to fishbar as I love seafood and I loved the fact that the restaurant only uses Ocean Wise products, however, I have to agree with the above poster.

    The service was horrible. We waited 30 minutes before anybody noticed us and gave us water. There seemed to be more than enough waitstaff, 5 by my count walking about, and they couldn’t handle the 50 people in the restaurant?

    The food (which we got after one hour of sitting there) was disappointing too. The haddock fish and chips were bland; the aparagus was good but nothing to write home about and I’ve had seriously better tuna loin in more restaurants than I can count. The plates were not served at the same time despite request so I started eating after my husband (still hungry after the FnC) was done.

    Definitely not going back.

  • dundasvillage

    actually im Sure William Tavarez is the creator of Salt and Fishbar, I believe he still has shares in the company of Salt but is very displeased at the way the shareholders are trying to run this business. the only way they know, Portuguese, how original!
    Fishbar is a new business, they are ironing out their kinks. Give Fishbar credit for not taking the standard road that Salt has.

  • RS

    How do you ensure you won’t be on the recommended list of restaurants in TO? Cancel a reservation for 7 made weeks in advance for a special birthday an hour before the designated time, citing “an emergency.” No apology, no effort to compensate. The kicker is a sign on the door “gone fishing for the weekend.” We’ll do the same and go fishing elsewhere—with ALL our seafood-loving friends.

  • MW

    Went for dinner last night. I don’t see it around in the next year or so. Horrible experience. From the first bite of the still-raw calamari, to the poor service, to the waiter telling us AFTER he dropped off the bill, and after we waited for another 20 minutes and after we put down a credit card .. that the system was down and that they were accepting cash only. Told us to go to a bank machine. Would not do a manual transaction and actually gave my dinner companion attitude about being asked. Horrible meal, horrible service, incredibly unfomfortable seating, and warm white wine all added to a resolve: never to come back here again and make sure no one else does either.

  • IJ

    When management thinks it’s okay to cancel my party’s reservations 50 minutes
    before we’re all supposed to show, citing a phony excuse and offering no apologies nor acknowledging the inconvenience it would cause it’s not a stretch to see that they generally hold their customers in low regard. Save yourself some aggravation and go somewhere else. There are an abundance of great restaurants in this city that deserve your patronage. This is not one them.

  • jason

    whats wrong with you people, give the restaurant a chance, theyve only been open for 10 weeks, which newborn can brush their own teeth or comb their own hair, give them credit for sustainable product and for doing the right thing, im certain Fishbar will be around for a long time!
    im a believer.

    seriously people!

  • foodie

    went twice (once when they just opened and again two weeks ago).
    The first visit was not great … slow service, tastless menu but every start up needs a second chance. The second visit faired slightly better than the first but found only one of my tables 6 menu choices to be up to the standards of the other restaurants that the Ossington strip showcases.
    I was very much confused as to why they are taking cash only for the last three months – must be enormous technical difficulties (or cash flow one’s).
    I think the concept is great … but their execution is inconsistent, bland and left a bad taste.
    FYI … I asked a server if there was any relation between FISH BAR and SALT wine bar and I was glad to hear that there isn’t one because I’ve had great dinning experiences at SALT

  • Guest Last Night

    I was in last night for dinner. The food was delicious; the space was well done. One big critique is that the server with the longer black hair kept on staring at my wife which made us pretty uncomfortable. Other than that it was a good time.

  • good dining experience

    I enjoyed my dinner. I live and work in the neighborhood and look forward to lunch!

  • Fish lover

    I had the pleasure of dining at Fishbar this week on a few occasions. I was in TO for business and staying at the Drake Hotel nearby. I found the service good, the food excellent and the overall atmosphere incredible. I aat in the chefs table in the rear. So much fun. The only negative i have for fishbar is echoed earlier on this blog. There was a waiter serving near us with longer dark hair who kept on staring at my coworkers. They were commenting on it throughout our meal. It didnt bother me, but my fdmale colleagues were definitely taken aback. I would recommend the food and the ambience…I wouldnt recommend sitting in this guy’s section though!

  • J. Paulino

    Fishbar,is actually a transformation of “Todo Lounge” originally owned by Mr.Paulino and his wife Nao ,owners of “Vintage 1″on 186 ossingthon. A partnership was formed and Nao and Jose are still shareholders of this venture.they are not visible because of unresolved financial payments from mr.William and ms.andreaza to Jose and Nao .