Sunday, 14 August 2011

Fishbar is a great addition to the Ossington restaurant scene - Don't miss out!

I’d like to start off by emphasizing that I am very picky - picky about fish. However, thanks to a recent trip to Venice and the Mediterranean, I now appreciate foods that I despised as a child, and fish (of all kinds) was one of those foods. I might even go as far as to say there are times I crave fish.

The key to my change of heart towards fish is that it needs to excite, be colourful, fresh and simply cooked. It also doesn’t hurt to know where the fish is sourced and how it was harvested.

Getting on my proverbial soapbox…I’d like to state that it is very important to me that we don’t over harvest our oceans and we treat our oceans with common sense and our future in mind. Now stepping off my soapbox….on to Fishbar Restaurant.

Fishbar’s menu is filled with fresh, simple and tasty dishes. I encourage anyone that visits to explore their tapas styled menu and daily selection of oysters.

Fishbar is a beautiful styled restaurant with design elements that range from traditional to unique. The front of house setting is unfussy and very functional.

To start off our meal, we ordered oysters - they come shucked on top of a bed of seaweed and ice. The homemade accompaniments such as the cocktail, ponzu and hot pepper were delish and the fresh grated horseradish is a must. I just wished there was more horseradish.

With the help of our waiter, we chose the following oysters from their daily selection: Merigomish and Raspberry Pointe. The oysters were fresh and I could taste the distinct flavours of each oyster. We were tempted to order more, but knew we had to make room for the other dishes.

Next to arrive at our table was the white anchovy and the codfish brandade. The white anchovy with olive gremolata, caramelized onions on sourdough crostini was the highlight of the meal. The anchovies on top of crisp thin crostini pleased the palette, and the sweetness of the caramelized onions and the saltiness of the gremolata added depth and delicious flavour. 

I developed a slight addiction to codfish brandade during my visit to Venice – they call it Baccalà in Venice. I was never fond of the smell of salted cod - I find the smell too pungent. But, through the magic of cooking, codfish can be transformed into something that is utterly delicious. At Fishbar, the brandade is light, creamy and a joy to eat. The cod is mashed and combined with potato, and I believe I tasted a hint of truffle oil.  The crostini that accompanied the dish allowed me pile on the delicious brandade. If I had one complaint, I would have liked to taste a bit more codfish in the mixture. 

We decided to try the oyster pogo corn dog served with tomatillo salsa as it is not something you see on the menu every day. It was a playful dish that was fun to eat. However, it was my least favourite dish of the evening. I couldn’t tell if inside texture was supposed to be runny, if the dish was undercooked or if it was meant to be that way. To me, it seemed as though the oil may have been too hot, browning the outside too quickly and leaving the inside a touch under-cooked. Either way, I would not order this dish again.

After the oyster pogo, our grilled calamari and beer battered fish & chips arrive. The grilled calamari was delicious. It is cooked with tomato, capers, nicoise olives and a balsamic reduction - just the way I would cook it myself. I’ll be back for this again soon!

Even though I’ve never been a fan of fish, I’ve always made an exception...I love a really good fish and chips. I’ve tried fish and chips in the UK, Canada, USA – pretty much everywhere. At Fishbar, the beer battered haddock and hand cut fries are delicious. The portion is good, the coating is crisp and well seasoned, the fish moist and the chips are very good. Their homemade tartar sauce accompanied the fish very well. The tartar sauce is not as tart and vinegary as some I have tasted, and it does not distract from the main star of the dish, the fish.

By this time, we were pretty full but the waitress encouraged us to try the dessert. We ordered their selection of homemade ice creams which included chocolate, honey and goat cheese. We started eating the flavours individually, but the waitress quickly instructed us to eat all three flavours at the same time. Even though the ice cream tasted good individually, mixing the three together was magical. Who could have imagined? It was delicious and I would highly recommend trying.

Fishbar is part of a new breed of restaurant in Toronto - they are extremely connected to their customers.  With constant communication via Twitter and other social media outlets, they really set themselves apart with how they communicate with their patrons and people like me who are always looking for something new to try.  We really enjoyed our meal at Fishbar, and I am certain that for all you seafood lovers or those just looking for a new food experience, Fishbar does not disappoint.

Also, the servers at Fishbar were friendly and helpful. Cheers for that!

217 Ossington Avenue
Toronto, ON M6J 2Z7
Tuesday to Sunday
6pm to 11pm

@_fishbar on Twitter

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