oysters

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Restaurants

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A summer oyster bar is joining the eclectic mix at 99 Sudbury

(Image: Facebook)

The sprawling former glass factory at 99 Sudbury St., tucked between West Queen West and Liberty Village, has seen all kinds of businesses come and go—an after-hours club, a film studio and the much-loved restaurant Mildred Pierce. It even hosted the popular pop-up ramen bash Slurp Noodlefest in April. Now joining the venue’s hodgepodge of occupants, which currently includes a professional MMA school and a monthly flower market, is a temporary oyster bar called Cool City Oyster Yard from chef Michael Pataran, who the nearby Cadillac Lounge recently brought in to add smokehouse barbecue to its menu. The 74-seat patio-bar runs from June to October and is serving sake cocktails and shellfish. The restaurant may just be the right fit for the ever-changing space: a breezy neighbourhood spot to slurp up oysters and put back early evening drinks with a view of Liberty Village’s expanding condo-scape.

The Dish

Restaurants

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Flavour of the Year: five inventive and delicious oyster dishes

Toronto is undergoing an oyster renaissance thanks to a gaggle of new seafood spots. Here, the top five tastes on the half-shell.

Flavour Craze: Shuck and Awe

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The Dish

Restaurants

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Must Try: Splendido turns the lowly oyster into an event

Must Try: Splendido turns the lowly oyster into an event

The smoked Rocky Point oyster arrives domed, looking like a mysterious ringed planet. When the server removes the lid, a dense plume of cherry­wood smoke funnels upward, encircling you in the scent of an autumn bonfire. In the bowl, there’s a plump, soft and salty P.E.I. oyster surrounded by buttery potato foam, and topped simply with chives and three crisp golden Yukon chips for crunch. It’s just a snack before the meal, but it perfectly captures the philosophy and character of the current regime at Splendido: innovative yet unpretentious, elegant yet playful. 88 Harbord St., 416-929-7788.

The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: John and Sons, the new Summerhill oyster house from the owners of Rodney’s by Bay

Introducing: John and Sons

(Image: Megan Leahy)

The highly anticipated John and Sons Oyster House is now up and running in the prime corner real estate previously occupied by Terroni on Yonge south of St. Clair (in between, it was an Italian place called Divino). The restaurant was opened by the same team that’s behind Rodney’s by Bay—indeed, the downtown sister location has now taken on the John and Sons moniker, launching co-owner John Belknap into the ranks of the city’s oyster tycoons (the “Rodney’s” name was previously used under licence from Rodney’s Oyster House). The 100-seat restaurant’s modern-rustic interior was styled by Belknap’s brother-in-law, Brad Denton, whose previous work includes Le Petit Castor, Czehoski and The Harbord Room. There’s a decided nautical theme, with bare bulbs hanging from thick rope and little model lighthouses in niches behind the oyster bar. 

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The Dish

Food Events

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See Ontario’s best shuck it off at last weekend’s 2012 Oyster Fest

Ontario Oyster Festival 2012

(Image: Igor Yu)

This past Sunday, Rodney’s Oyster House, the centre of gravity for all things bivalve in Toronto, played host to the annual Ontario Oyster Festival. This was the 24th year for the seafood celebration, which raises money for Environmental Defense, an organization which promotes green causes ranging from clean beaches to banning BPA. The highlight of the day (and the event which brought us down there on a rainy Sunday): the crowning of the Ontario Oyster Opening Champion, who gets to go on to nationals in PEI.

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The Informer

Events

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The Weekender: Beauty and the Beast, Festival of India and six other items on our to-do list

1. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
The stage version of this classic Disney movie has all the hallmarks of that beloved childhood favourite: Belle’s yellow gown, a snarly, growly beast with a heart of gold, and Mrs. Potts and Chip. But in this theatrical undertaking, everything has been amped up a little. The award-winning costumes and sets will awe tiny princess lovers, and even mom and dad will enjoy the songs, which include old faves (“Be Our Guest,” “Belle” and “Beauty and the Beast”) and a few unique to the performance.
To July 22. $42–$150. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen St. W., 416-363-6671, dancaptickets.com.

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The Dish

Food Events

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Weekly Eater: Toronto food events for July 2 to July 8

Farmer’s market season has arrived (Image: Kevin Ho)

Monday, July 2

  • 86’D With Ivy Knight: Check out a double bill at the at the Drake Lounge. First, a throw-down for the ultimate hangover cure: the Bloody Mary versus the Caesar. Second, a watermelon-eating contest. The Drake, 1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042. Find out more »
  • Piola’s Monday Night Mixer: A weekly aperitivo italiano with cocktail and beer specials and complimentary snacks. 1165 Queen St. W., 416-477-4652. Find out more »

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The Dish

Licious

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Summerlicious 2012: our food editor picks the top 10 offerings from this year’s Licious list

Summerlicious-2012

One of Colborne Lane’s innovative concoctions (Image: Renée Suen)

Ten years in, Toronto’s loved (and loathed) bacchanalia of affordable dining is larger than ever, with 181 restaurants offering three-course prix fixe menus for $25, $35 or $45 from July 6-22. Despite common complaints—packed rooms, harried dining and more salmon and chicken than a buffet wedding—an ineluctable truth remains: Summerlicious is a good opportunity to sample new restaurants on the cheap. To that end, we’ve sifted through the overwhelming list of participants to find the most interesting dishes and the very best value. Start making your reservations now.

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: De la Mer, the Bayview fishmonger’s outpost on Roncesvalles

(Image: Natalie Swiercz)

“Would you like to enjoy an oyster while you browse?” De la Mer co-owner David Owen asks a tot-toting Roncesvalles mom, while his partner, Blake Edwards, tends to the queue of customers that stretches to the end of the narrow shop shortly after opening. De la Mer is the second outpost of the duo’s Leaside location. The fishmonger has become a fast favourite in the quickly gentrifying neighbourhood, due in large part to the highly knowledgeable staff, who are more than happy to offer tips on cooking their wares. The complimentary perks, such as free citrus, fresh horseradish and dill, don’t hurt either.

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The Dish

Food Events

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Weekly Eater: Toronto food events for April 30 to May 6

Toronto Underground Market and Food Trucks Eats join forces for the sold-out Street Food Block Party on Saturday (Images: Caroline Aksich, Renée Suen)

Monday, April 30

  • Cocina Mexicana: A hands-on lesson in authentic Mexican cooking, just in time to hone your skills for Cinco de Mayo. Dish Cooking Studio, 390 Dupont St., 416-920-5559. Find out more »
  • Piola’s Monday Night Mixer: Piola’s weekly aperitivo italiano, with cocktail and beer specials and complimentary snacks. 1165 Queen St. W., 416-477-4652. Find out more »
  • 86’D: Ivy Knight hosts a guacamole battle royale; bring your best guac and see how it stacks up. The Drake, 1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042. Find out more »
  • FoodShare’s Kate Kitchen: A monthly gathering where women fighting breast cancer can share recipes, learn how to prepare healthy meals and learn about cancer-fighting foods. 90 Croatia St., foodlink@foodshare.net. Find out more »
  • Jamie Kennedy’s Evening of Spanish Gastronomy: José Luis Altristain from the Commercial Office of Spain will lead a tasting demonstrating how the vintage of olive oil affects the flavour, followed by a four-course meal with wine pairings. Gilead Bistro, 4 Gilead Pl., 647-288-0680. Find out more »
  • Sorauren Farmers’ Market: 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the field house at Sorauren Park. 50 Wabash Ave. Find out more »

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Midfield Wine Bar, Dundas West’s laid-back spot for oenophiles

(Image: Gizelle Lau)

Midfield Wine Bar, which opened without much fanfare at the end of January, is the vision of two front-of-house vets: sommelier Christopher Sealy (Terroni, Mercatto) and Giuseppe Anile (Bar Italia and former owner of Marquee Video). Their shared passion for wine, food and hospitality brought the pair together to create a space that evokes old-world warmth on the rapidly gentrifying section of Dundas West around Dufferin.

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The Dish

Restaurants

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Where to Get Good Stuff Cheap 2012: bar snacks that are as lip-smacking as they are cheap

Where to Get Good Stuff Cheap | Posh Nosh
Where to Get Good Stuff Cheap | Posh Nosh

Gourmet junk food
Toca Bar
181 Wellington St. W., 416-585-2500
Done up in corporate neutrals and colonized by Seven Sisters partners, the Ritz-Carlton bar serves the kinds of cocktails that come with lotus root garnishes and elderflower infusions—and cost $16 each. Sounds steep until you factor in the freebies delivered with the drinks: sticky, maple-glazed bacon, pan-fried capers and corn nuts. It’s gourmet junk food that’s impossible to stop eating, which is okay because the bartender replenishes the supply without judgment.

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The Dish

Restaurants

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Year in Review: each of 2011’s weekly lunch picks, ranked

Trying to choose a selection of our favourite lunch picks from the last year proved too much like choosing a selection of our favourite children. So instead we present a complete year of lunch picks, ranked by price, from a humble porchetta sandwich (a reasonable $6.75) to a somewhat less humble five-course feast (treat yourself for $100).

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The Dish

New Reviews

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New Reviews: Pizzeria Defina, Diana’s Oyster Bar and the Hoof Cocktail Bar

Thin-crust lust in Roncey, impeccable seafood in Scarborough and double-digit cocktails on Dundas West

Pizzeria Defina PIZZERIA DEFINA $30 Gourmet
321 Roncesvalles Ave., 416-534-4414

The newest pizza parlour on the Roncesvalles strip isn’t world changing, but it’s a welcome addition to a neighbourhood brimming with families looking for quick, crowd-pleasing food. There are plenty of oddities on the menu: pizza salads and even a lasagna pizza (a margherita with ground beef and fior di latte). The baked pies, flash-cooked in a wood-fired brick oven, are tasty, though not Libretto, Queen Margherita or Terroni calibre. The crusts one night were a touch underdone, where they should have been blistered black. The tomato sauce is fine but doesn’t have the zip of a great San Marzano. The caesar salad is phoned in: the lettuce is still damp from washing, the dressing lacks punch, and the croutons are AWOL. Green bean “fritti” are tasty from lots of salt and pepper but floppy from deep-frying. Friendly service and a perfunctory wine list.

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The Dish

Food Events

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Two Torontonians duked it out for national oyster shucking title last Friday 

In what must have been acutely embarrassing for shuckers from the east and west coasts, the final round of the Canadian Oyster Shucking Championship in P.E.I. last Friday came down to two monster shuckers from non-coastal Toronto: Eamon Clark (son of Rodney Clark of Rodney’s Oyster House) and Patrick McMurray (of Starfish and Ceili Cottage), both of whom have previously won the championship multiple times. As reported by the Summerside Journal-Pioneer, the two former champs made it to the last round in a dead heat, which necessitated a shuck-off of 18 Malpeques (captured in this immortal slideshow). In the end, it apparently all came down to speed versus finesse (we won’t spoil the result). Read the whole story »

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