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Introducing: Rock Lobster, the new Ossington incarnation of the popular pop-up restaurant

Introducing: Rock Lobster Food Co.

(Image: Renée Suen)

Recently there’s been a slew of Toronto Underground Market vendors graduating to permanent operations. First La Carnita opened on College, then Fidel Gastro’s launched a food truck, and now Rock Lobster Food Co., whose first TUM appearance was only nine months ago, has opened up shop on Ossington. Co-owner and chef Matt Dean Pettit partnered with Darryl Fine (Bovine Sex Club, Shanghai Cowgirl) and Alan Thomson (Sotto Voce) to open the restaurant, which features a lobster-centric menu of comfort seafood sold at pop-up-friendly prices.

Pettit designed the 72-seat room, warming up the former Watusi space with a mural painted by his father, a trio of large Canadiana paintings by Mike Spazz and an array of repurposed wooden crates on the back wall. Bare light bulbs hang from a vintage oar above the bar, which is made from repurposed bowling alley boards, and off to the side is a semi-private dining space called the Anchor Room, which fits 10 or so people around a walnut harvest table.

Fans of the pop-up will be happy to note that most menu items stay within the $15 range (Pettit works directly with a wholesale company from Nova Scotia, which keeps the prices low). The dishes include Pettit’s popular lobster roll ($14), of course, but also whimsical items like lobster “cappuccino” (bisque with crème fraîche, $6), lobster poutine ($13) and lobster mac-and-cheese ($14). There’s also a traditional lobster dinner that comes with all the fixings and dessert ($39; Sundays until Christmas, $25). Non-lobster options include jerk crab and shrimp ($13), changing selections at the raw bar ($2.25–$10) and flank steak with a fried duck egg ($14). Josh Lindley (Campagnolo, GwaiLo pop-up) is responsible for the drinks list, which includes the Rock Lobster caesar ($12), garnished with a half lobster tail, draught beers ($6.50–$8) like Guinness and Molson stock ale, and Vineland Estate wine on tap ($1 per ounce).

Rock Lobster Food Co., 110 Ossington Ave., 416-533-1800,, @RockLobsterFood

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  • Ozzie

    By far the worst meal I’ve had in over a year. We honestly felt like we were at a Red Lobster, only the food tasted dreadful. This restaurant has completely missed the mark as to what it takes to be ‘hip’ on Ossington. It is trying far too hard and anyone from the neighborhood will be immediately put off by the contrived, suburban feel emanating from this food joint. The food itself was bland, predominately deep fried and tasteless. The service of the dishes in baskets with checkered paper would have been great if we were at KFC or Dairy Queen. We are residents of the neighborhood, but we will certainly not be back. Hopefully this is not a trend for Ossington, because if it is, we all might as well move to Woodbridge.

  • cpt. joshua slocum

    who would expect anything else from the smirnoff vodka of seafood restaurants. ‘good seafood is not cheap, cheap seafood is not good’

  • Anne Popoff

    You guys are harsh! Had their lobster roll at the GFWE and it was to die for!!!!

  • notyouraverage

    For anyone of the posters that have been to a TUM event, you must have been the ones who didn’t want to wait in line for the busiest vendor in the place. So much so, they had to have their position moved to accomodate the massive line. When you try something new, you need to ask yourself “was this good enough to want to come back and try again…maybe bringing some new friends along”. This is the case for Rock Lobster. A pop-up turned restaurant, spurned on by the demand of the loyal twitter followers, TUM patrons, corporate companies using them for catering. Last time I checked, I didn’t see a chain restaurant boasting the same following. Far from being “a suburban resto”…we can leave those to the Baton Rouges, Red Lobster, or one of the thousand new burrito or burger joints. Anyone who has been to the East Coast would know that this is how seafood is meant to be…fresh, clean, and not convoluted with atypical pretentious ingredients. Fun, lively, friendly, entertaining is what I remember from my trip to Rock Lobster. A breath of fresh air in my opinion. Well done. Can’t wait to go back…ps try the snow crab.

  • Wakeuptoronto

    Basically diner food , they are better off calling it a diner , these pop up places are like pop tarts

  • Moi

    UGH. I hate Toronto Food Snobs! you should all make a blog and complain there.
    I say congrats to Rock Lobster.
    Merry Holiday! :)

  • cathie

    Moi, they already did. Its called chowhound!. (haha). I’m so glad I’m not picky with my food, because I can’t wait to go here and try the lobster rolls, because I’m sure I’ll love it. Good luck to them.

  • jay

    Gotta love those lobster rolls, can’t be beat!

    Also @Ozzie, did you just say Red Lobster’s food is good? Kinda invalidates your whole argument. Enjoy your endless bowl of greasy garlic butter shrimps.

  • pinchy

    @notyouraverage – how many bland tasteless rolls/bags of chips does RL pay you a week to be their PR person? Cause your posting REEKS of an employee, if not the actual PR person for their resto. “A pop-up turned restaurant, spurned on by the demand of the loyal twitter followers, TUM patrons, corporate companies using them for catering” – ??!REALY??!?! That’s a wikipedia entry not a rebuttal to someone saying their food stinks. Oh and by the way their food stinks. I don’t like Red Lobster, and I’m not going to move to Woodbridge over this place, but I am from the east coast and anyone who knows a thing or two about authentic lobster rolls knows this is one sad attempt at $14 bucks.

  • lora

    congrats from a former TUM vendor that supports independent restaurants. I don’t think there is anything wrong with Woodbridge either, there is actually some great food to be found there.

  • jk

    Honest review here…. Im not a hipster from Queen st West so I wont go into the “vibe” and “image” of the place and what not…but I agree with the previous comment on it being more of a diner with bar food. Im not calling lobster and steak ‘bar food’, but the portions and the “high + low” combo sure does fit the bill. HOWEVER, the overall environment was nice and the drinks were really good. I recommend it as a nice place to try something different… thats all..

  • Greg Withers

    From Boston Ma, Went up to Toronto this week with my Girlfriend for two days. The Bartender at our hotel recommended this place…. It was fantastic. We stayed at the Drake, a very trendy hipster hotel in a similar neighborhood and the restaurant was only a few blocks away. Small, great vibe immediately, (not intimidatingly trendy like the drake) we got a seat at the bar and immediately the bartender was excited to talk to us and give us a rundown of what they do there. Cocktail Shrimp on the Raw bar were perfect, wish we got 12 instead of 6, and the cocktail sauce was on point. – It was our first time seeing the who Potini thing that they do there and we got the Lobster Potini via recommendation Being from New England we have great sea food and eat lobster a lot so we were a little concerned at first, but it was great. Really recommend this place. The owner came buy and talked to us, young guy great attitude, very happy that we added this place to our trip. Only negative is we got a parking ticket on the street. Go – Definite recomendation Thanks guys!!