seafood

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Openings

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Introducing: Fresh Off The Boat, a new seafood sandwich shop on Queen West

(Image: Renée Suen)

(Image: Renée Suen)

Name: Fresh Off The Boat
Contact Info: 404 Queen St. W., 416-603-3333, @FOTB416
Previously: IWing Pizza & Wings
Neighbourhood: Queen West
Owner/Chef: Quinten Tran, one of the founders of the Buster’s Sea Cove food truck

The Food: The chalkboard menu lists about a dozen seafood sandwiches, salads and other dishes, most of which have a slight Can-Asian flair. The signature “FOB” sandwich (described as an “Asian po’boy banh mi”) is a battered-catfish sub topped with kimchi and smoky aioli. Other options include a lobster roll, a grilled halibut salad and an entire soft-shell crab served on a brioche bun. Chunky fries and broccoli slaw are available on the side.

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Openings

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Introducing: Little Fin, the mix-and-match seafood restaurant from the owners of The Chase

Introducing: Little Fin

Name: Little Fin
Contact Info: 4 Temperance St., 647-348-7000, littlefin.ca, @Little_Fin
Previously: Italian restaurant Fiore
Neighbourhood: Financial District
Owner: The Chase Hospitality Group (headed by president Steven Salm), which is also behind The Chase, The Chase Fish & Oyster, and Colette Grand Cafe
Executive Chef: The Chase Fish & Oyster chef Nigel Finley

The Food: The Chase’s latest spin-off restaurant is a casual mix-and-match seafood counter. Diners choose a main item (e.g. crispy fried haddock, smoked maple-brandy wild BC salmon), a preparation method (sandwich, seaweed salad, slaw) and any add-ons or “sea sides,” like chunky potato wedges or chili-spiced broccoli. There’s also a double-decker cheeseburger (served on pitch-black buns, dyed with bamboo charcoal), lobster-topped hot dogs, and whole-lobster meals served with sea-urchin “fancy sauce.”

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Restaurants

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Baby Point brunch spot Camp is now Fish Camp, the city’s latest seafood destination

(Image: Fish Camp/Facebook)

Chef Langley’s Southern-style Steelhead trout. (Image: Fish Camp/Facebook)

In the last year, Toronto’s restaurant makeup has become about 80 per cent fishier. Rock Lobster, once a cute pop-up shop, has morphed into a crustacean-based restaurant chain (soon to open its third location in Leslieville), The Chase has turned haute seafood into the meal of choice for Toronto power brokers, and oysters and tuna tartare have become as ubiquitous on restaurant appetizer lists as last decade’s bruschettas and caprese salads.

Camp, the homey brunch spot in Baby Point, is the latest Toronto dining venue to take a pescatarian turn. The restaurant recently reopened as Fish Camp, a full-service dinner spot with an elaborate raw bar, buck-a-shuck Wednesdays and a menu of fish-focused dishes from former Catch chef Charlotte Langley, who is helping get the new concept off the ground and will eventually hand the reins over to her culinary mentee, Ian Shute.

At Fish Camp, Langley’s goal is to make seafood approachable. “Fish still scares some people on restaurant menus,” she says. “The food I’m making here is simple, user-friendly cuisine.” Menu-wise, that translates into casual, comforting dishes, like bacon-topped lobster rolls, fish-cake sliders on mini milk buns and Steelhead trout with bourbon-butter sauce, plus a handful of fishy brunch dishes on Sundays. “It’s comfort food with the chance to get risky,” Langley says.

Some of the biggest risks, it would seem, come in alcoholic form: the drinks list includes something called the Dark and Screechie—a spin on the Dark and Stormy made with super-potent East Coast rum—and a uniquely fishy martini, which features a submerged oyster along with the obligatory olive-studded swizzle stick.

Fish Camp, 244 Jane St., 647-346-2267, camprestauranttoronto.com

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Trend Watch

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The Top Food Trends and Who Does Them Best: Seafood

Last year’s lobster roll craze has escalated into a full-blown love affair with fresh platters of tentacles, claws and other watery delights

The Top Food Trends and Who Does Them Best: Seafood

The raw bar at The Chase downtown serves up an orgy of seafood to its deep-pocketed clientele

There’s only so much red meat a person can consume. I’m happy to announce that Toronto, for too many years a city resigned to High Liner fish sticks, has turned a pescetarian corner. Quality seafood stores like Hooked and De La Mer are multiplying, and we’re no longer ashamed to serve a locally caught perch at a dinner party. For a few months there, it seemed like every elegant restaurant had a rainbow trout from Kolapore Springs on the menu.

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The Dish

Restaurants

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St. Lawrence bistro Lucien becomes Toronto’s newest seafood bar

(Images: Olde Towne Oyster Bar)

(Images: Olde Towne Oyster Bar)

Lucien used to be one of the city’s fussier fine-dining institutions. Now the downtown restaurant has undergone a dramatic revamp, bringing in a totally new name and concept. Old Towne Oyster Bar joins the city’s legions of new pescatarian dining options, which include Parkdale’s 1920s-style Geraldine and midtown restaurant John and Sons’ soon-to-open Crudo Room. Aside from the low-key decor, everything about the former Lucien space has changed, including the menu, which now sticks to raw, smoked and cooked seafood (plus one carnivorous entrée), and the price point, which tops out at $18.

Olde Towne Oyster Bar, 36 Wellington St. E., 416-504-9990

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New Reviews

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Review: Rock Lobster’s delightfully chaotic Queen West outpost

Review: Rock Lobster Queen

(Image: Rock Lobster/Facebook)

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Rock Lobster 1 star½
538 Queen St. W., 416-203-6623

The first location of Rock Lobster, which opened on Ossington last winter, was so successful that the owners added another on Queen West just a few months later. The new restaurant is delightfully chaotic—the kind of place where tables are so cluttered with oversized Caesars, seafood platters and shell bowls that you may end up balancing a tray of oysters on your lap (as we did).

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Openings

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Introducing: Smoked and Cracked, a new lobster shack on Mount Pleasant

Introducing: Smoked and Cracked

Name: Smoked and Cracked
Neighbourhood: Davisville
Contact Info: 516 Mount Pleasant Rd., 647-748-5722, smokedandcracked.com
Owners/Chefs: Catering vets Michael Kash and Ron Raymer, who trained under James Beard Award recipient Jean-Marie Lacroix

The Food: A short blackboard menu of lobster rolls, chowders, slaws and boils. Among the non-crustaceous offerings: a smoked duck breast panini with Swiss and deep-dish butter tarts that sell out early.

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Recipes

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Recipe: butter-poached lobster from the virtuous fishmongers at Hooked

Toronto Life Cookbook Recipe 2012: Butter Poached Lobster
Toronto Life Recipes | Entrees
BUTTER POACHED LOBSTER
By Dan and Kristin Donovan
Hooked

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Openings

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Introducing: Geraldine, a new spot for absinthe, oysters and Edwardian hospitality in Parkdale

Introducing: Geraldine

(Image: Renée Suen)

Name: Geraldine
Contact Info: 1564 Queen St. W., geraldinetoronto.com, @GeraldineResto
Neighbourhood: Parkdale
Owners: Alexandra Albert and Peter Ramsay
Chef: Peter Ramsay, the former sous-chef at snout-to-tail bistro Cowbell, which occupied the same space

The Place: A throwback to Gilded Age hospitality, complete with silver serving trays and bow-tied waiters bussing tables to jaunty ragtime tunes. Bonus points for authenticity: the dinnerware is vintage Limoges and two of the chandeliers are 19th century originals.

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Openings

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Introducing: The Chase, a swishy new penthouse restaurant in the Financial District

Introducing: The Chase

Name: The Chase
Contact Info: 10 Temperance St., thechasetoronto.com, 647-348-7000, @TheChaseTO
Neighbourhood: Financial District
Owner: Steven Salm, who also owns The Chase Fish and Oyster on the main floor
Executive chef: Michael Steh, who used to be the executive chef at Reds
Chef de cuisine: Amira Becarevic, former chef at EPIC in the Fairmount Royal York

The Food: Contemporary Canadian food with a focus on seafood, seasonal produce and handmade cheeses, like house-whipped goats’ milk ricotta. Family-style entrées include halibut with brown-butter tartar sauce and a foie gras–stuffed roast chicken. For lunch: salads and sandwiches, like pesto chicken on brioche with Parmesan-truffle fries.

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Openings

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Introducing: The Chase Fish and Oyster, a new Hamptons-style seafood bar in the historic Dineen building

Introducing: The Chase Fish & Oyster

Name: The Chase Fish and Oyster
Contact Info: 10 Temperance St., thechasetoronto.com, 647-348-7000, @TheChaseTO
Neighbourhood: Financial District
Owner: Steven Salm, the former general manager of upscale steakhouse e11even
Executive Chef: Michael Steh, who used to be the executive chef at Reds
Chef de Cuisine: Nigel Finley, former executive chef at Catch

The Food: Oysters and other raw seafood, plus po’ boys, lobster rolls and chowder. Non-pescatarian options include burgers, steak, lamb chops and fried chicken.

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The Dish

Closings

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College West seafood shack Red Fish is closed

Red Fish

(Image: Megan Leahy)

The restaurant from the former chef of Fishbar on Ossington opened last summer to positive reviews for its dainty fish charcuterie and other West coast seafood dishes, as well as its commitment to sustainability. But like a handful of restaurants before it at 890 College, including popular neighbourhood brunch spot Mitzi’s, Red Fish shut its doors earlier this summer. [Red Fish]

The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Rock Lobster Food Co. on Queen West, a second outpost of the trendy seafood restaurant

Introducing Rock Lobster

Name: Rock Lobster Food Co.
Neighbourhood: Queen West
Contact Info: 538 Queen St. W., 416-203-6623, rocklobsterfood.com/, @RockLobsterFood
Owners: Matt Dean Pettit, Darryl Fine and Alan Thomson
Chef: Matt Dean Pettit

The Food: Rock Lobster serves east-coast Canadian comfort food: think seafood shack meets gastropub. Along with lobster rolls and poutine, the two greatest hits from the original Ossington location, new dishes include a play on the McDonalds fish sandwich called the Fillet “Eh” Fish, lobster-stuffed devilled eggs and bacon-wrapped corn dogs.

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Openings

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Introducing: Cool City Oyster Yard, a new surf shack at 99 Sudbury that’s open from June to October

Introducing: Cool City Oyster Yard

Name: Cool City Oyster Yard
Neighbourhood: Beaconsfield Village
Contact Info: 99 Sudbury, 647-426-5997, www.coolcityoyster.com, @CoolCityOysters
Owner: Marco Petrucci (the co-owner of Porzia)
Chef & Partner: Michael Pataran (consulting chef at Cadillac Lounge)

The Place: A throwback to beach-side seafood stands, like something you might find in Key West. Old skids and barrels from Fielding Estate Winery were used to construct the dining bar.

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New Reviews

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Review: The Happy Hooker serves fresh fish tacos from a seafood shack on Dundas West

Review: The Happy Hooker

(Image: Gizelle Lau)

SEE ALL NEW REVIEWS
The Happy Hooker 1 star½
887 Dundas St. W., 647-769-4243

Chef Attilio Pugliese has opened a new seafood shack specializing in fish tacos—perfect, plump fish tacos. He piles soft corn tortillas with crisp beer-battered grouper, breaded baja or grilled shrimp and tops them with lime crèma, smoky house chipotle sauce and bright, crunchy shredded cabbage.

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