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Diana's Seafood opening restaurant

Mandy Lin Jul 18, 2010 06:20 PM

BR and I were at Diana's Seafood today on Lawrence (www.dianasseafood.com) and noticed that they took over the Coffee Time in front of their store. One of the workers said they were opening a restaurant and oyster bar in about six months. Anybody know anything about it? Who will the chef be? What will the style be?

Diana's Seafood
2101 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R, CA

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  1. jayt90 RE: Mandy Lin Jul 18, 2010 06:33 PM

    They have been preparing the site for six months already. A long time.

    1. t
      torontofoodiegirl RE: Mandy Lin Jul 19, 2010 07:35 AM

      When I asked about it, they said that they weren't sure if it was going to be a restaurant or an oyster bar (this was a week or so ago). Not sure when it's scheduled to open.

      5 Replies
      1. re: torontofoodiegirl
        lyndak RE: torontofoodiegirl Jul 19, 2010 09:40 AM

        We got the same answer when we asked about it a few months ago. Apparently there were differing views from different family members around what type of restaurant it's going to end up as.

        1. re: lyndak
          scarberian RE: lyndak Jul 19, 2010 11:30 AM

          Hopefully quality will be their top priority. East Toronto (Scarborough) sure is lacking in even decent quality seafood restos. We had Red Lobster as one of our options and even that left (it's pretty sad when Red Lobster is really your only choice in your area). Fingers crossed, Diana's doesn't screw this up.

          1. re: scarberian
            vaiguy777 RE: scarberian Jul 20, 2010 08:43 AM

            I agree, this is what is lacking for most of the city...Fresh seafood...cooked to your liking. Simple. Although I love oysters...an oyster bar will not cut it in this neck of the woods.

            1. re: scarberian
              pimentdespelette RE: scarberian Jul 20, 2010 08:58 AM

              Zen Sushi. I'd kill to live near it. Yup, it's in Scarborough.

              1. re: pimentdespelette
                scarberian RE: pimentdespelette Jul 20, 2010 06:37 PM

                Yes they do seafood amazingly, BUT it is Japanese. I'm talking about more North American /European style of seafood resto. In Seattle and Vancouver they have great restos that specialize in seafood -- grilled, fried, blackened, poached, stuffed, baked, broiled, stewed, etc. At Zen you get great seafood, but Japanese style i.e. teriyaki salmon, sushi (incl. the spider and dragon makis), sashimi. As amazing as Zen is, Scarborough needs an alternative seafood resto i.e. alternative to Japanese or your typical fish and chips, that serve whole crabs, lobster, crawfish, oysters, mussels, clams, sustainable fish species, etc.

        2. Davwud RE: Mandy Lin Jul 20, 2010 08:54 AM

          Let's hope it's as good as the product in the retail store.


          1. s
            skrwdrvr RE: Mandy Lin Aug 17, 2010 06:28 PM

            Last I heard they were planning on opening it in the new year (2011). I believe the chef will be the same chef they currently have in the retail store.

            4 Replies
            1. re: skrwdrvr
              Googs RE: skrwdrvr Apr 29, 2011 09:34 AM

              Any update to the opening date?

              1. re: Googs
                DUH CAR RE: Googs May 1, 2011 08:45 AM

                About a month ago the chef said July. It was drywalled and they were tiling it a week ago.

                1. re: DUH CAR
                  Googs RE: DUH CAR May 1, 2011 11:59 AM

                  They were in there working on it yesterday too. Still just framework without fixtures. It sure will be nice to be able to lunch then shop there.

                  1. re: DUH CAR
                    elkerette RE: DUH CAR Aug 2, 2011 07:08 AM

                    My boyfriend and I finally made it out to Diana's this past weekend to pick up some oysters (amazing Fanny Bays!) We were both super excited to see that work seems to be gearing up on the restaurant/oyster bar in front of the retail unit - including a posting on the wall that they were hiring front of house staff. A quick look inside gave a glimpse of some tables and chairs (I think) and everything appeared to be freshly painted and relatively clean - i.e. more of a finished restaurant than construction site.

                    Any word on when the place should be opening? The July 2011 deadline has passed...

              2. n
                neville nosher RE: Mandy Lin Aug 2, 2011 05:23 PM

                was in the store last week and was told that they were going to open this month when the patio was finished.heard that it ws going to be an oyster bar

                1 Reply
                1. re: neville nosher
                  Googs RE: neville nosher Aug 3, 2011 07:46 AM

                  The place looks too big to be just an oyster bar. That would burst my bubble as well. I'm really looking forward to the opening. Right now if I want great seafood in the east end it's either Zen or DIY. The idea of a civilized seafood and white wine dinner in the neighbourhood gives me a shiver of excitement.

                2. d
                  DUH CAR RE: Mandy Lin Aug 5, 2011 09:31 AM

                  Was there today and opening is still two weeks+ away. They're getting the POS next week and then comes the staff training after that.

                  12 Replies
                  1. re: DUH CAR
                    daaave RE: DUH CAR Aug 30, 2011 07:49 AM

                    was in the store a a little while ago and they said the restaurant was to open on august 29th. anyone been by to see if its open?

                    1. re: daaave
                      foodyDudey RE: daaave Aug 30, 2011 08:13 AM

                      Yes it opened yesterday

                      1. re: foodyDudey
                        DUH CAR RE: foodyDudey Aug 30, 2011 09:09 AM

                        Might try it for lunch tomorrow as I need some of their nice Irish salmon for planking.

                        1. re: DUH CAR
                          DUH CAR RE: DUH CAR Aug 31, 2011 11:04 AM

                          Dropped by to see the lunch menu. Ate at Goody's instead. Will wait until some actually tastes the food and it has a liquor license.

                        2. re: foodyDudey
                          smudgebee RE: foodyDudey Aug 30, 2011 07:03 PM

                          Ohhh my. I will have to try this. Any reviews yet?

                          1. re: smudgebee
                            elvisahmed RE: smudgebee Aug 30, 2011 10:15 PM

                            same here wanna hit ASAP. But would like to know the prices and drink menu

                            1. re: elvisahmed
                              foodyDudey RE: elvisahmed Aug 30, 2011 10:43 PM

                              you can see prices on this dinner menu http://dianasseafood.com/Restaurant/m...

                              1. re: foodyDudey
                                elvisahmed RE: foodyDudey Aug 30, 2011 10:55 PM

                                Thanks much appreciated. I am assuming they serve oysters there too (can't imagine them not serving the item they are famous for) I am planning to go there tomorrow and will report back :) hopefully they have a good drink menu.

                                1. re: elvisahmed
                                  foodyDudey RE: elvisahmed Aug 30, 2011 11:07 PM

                                  They don't have the liquor licence yet.

                                  1. re: elvisahmed
                                    vil RE: elvisahmed Aug 31, 2011 08:53 AM

                                    I am a bit surprised they do not have oysters on the menu too. I would go there just for those alone, for the luxury of not having to shuck them myself. Especially once they get licensed.

                                    On the other hand, a bit embarassing that one of the first things I spotted on their menu is a typo!

                                  2. re: foodyDudey
                                    DUH CAR RE: foodyDudey Aug 31, 2011 05:32 AM

                                    Looks very pricey for this neck of the woods. Better be big portions and high quality or it's going to be a donut store again.

                                    1. re: foodyDudey
                                      JennaBean RE: foodyDudey Aug 31, 2011 10:05 AM

                                      The menu looks at a little large but I think the prices seem fair.

                          2. s
                            Sadistick RE: Mandy Lin Aug 31, 2011 05:47 AM

                            That menu looks rather boring, to put it mildly.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Sadistick
                              jayt90 RE: Sadistick Aug 31, 2011 06:01 AM

                              Simple but well prepared seafood should make it a destination place, especially since there is nothing else in the area, and it is accessible.
                              I like the openness of the website with ratings of their menu items, and invitations to email the chef or front managers.

                              1. re: jayt90
                                Sadistick RE: jayt90 Aug 31, 2011 09:19 AM

                                As Poppi mentioned below, this is not just a 'simply seafood' restaurant.

                                Not sure if you have been out west, but there is a little place opposite Granville Island in Vancouver called Go Fish that does simple, amazingly prepared seafood, at reasonable prices.

                                Based on location, and current menu and prices, the long term outlook for this place is somewhat grim.

                                1. re: Sadistick
                                  vil RE: Sadistick Aug 31, 2011 09:50 AM

                                  I concur that good, fresh seafood screams for simply prepared dishes. I was hoping to see good, old battered fish and chips on the menu, a la Go Fish, and panko crusted anything doesn't seem to cut it.

                            2. PoppiYYZ RE: Mandy Lin Aug 31, 2011 06:05 AM

                              Any word who's responsible for cranking out these pricey creations ? When the chef at a seafood joint is recommending : Pasta, Steak + Shrimp, and Chicken Supreme, I get a little uneasy.

                              Much rather see a menu with fewer items, couple of specials, focus on seafood, and a small selection of good sides.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: PoppiYYZ
                                dmartins123 RE: PoppiYYZ Aug 31, 2011 10:30 AM

                                Maybe I was off, but this is not what I was looking forward to from Dianas.

                                I initially thought of an informal space to get fresh oysters, lightly prepared dishes, take-out food that you sit down to eat there, etc. Focus on a small and constantly changing menu with a few staple items.

                                I wish them luck with those items and prices.

                                1. re: dmartins123
                                  DUH CAR RE: dmartins123 Aug 31, 2011 11:06 AM

                                  I agree with dmartins123, vil and PoppiYYZ.

                              2. scarberian RE: Mandy Lin Aug 31, 2011 11:15 AM

                                Why are some painting a grim future for the place when none of you have tried it yet? Stop with the complaints until you've tried the place then give your opinion. It seems speculation and pessimism is a dime a dozen these days.

                                As for location, it may look like a wasteland to some, but Diana's Seafood has been at that location a long time and has been doing well so there is a market for seafood. Secondly, don't judge just that lot it sits on as a barometer for the whole area. There are neighbourhoods between it and Victoria Park with middle class to upper middle class families who can afford the prices. Also let's not forget that just further west on Lawrence is the Don Mills area.

                                It's the food that's going to do the talking and you can't compare it with out west since restos there are sitting right on the Pacific! Of course the prices will be cheaper there compared with Toronto. I've even seen the prices of fresh tilapia go up.

                                As for their menu, the majority of the menu is seafood (80-90%) and I only saw a few "complex" items. You do have many simple dishes like the steamed mussels, clams, lobsters, fried calamari, fried oysters, catch of the day. All simply done so why people are making a issue of it I have no idea. I plan to take my wife there for her bday in a couple of weeks so I hope all the best for this place.

                                Diana's Seafood
                                2101 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R, CA

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: scarberian
                                  foodyDudey RE: scarberian Aug 31, 2011 11:54 AM

                                  They were expecting an AYCE seafood reaturant, that is why they are complaining.

                                  With a name like "Oyster Bar and Grill" I'll expect to see oysters on the menu soon.

                                  1. re: foodyDudey
                                    TexSquared RE: foodyDudey Aug 31, 2011 12:13 PM

                                    Who said they wanted AYCE? And who called the location a "wasteland"?

                                    I agree with those who said they'd do better with simple dishes using quality ingredients. I know we can't expect prices as low as you'd get in Vancouver or the northeastern USA given our inland location, but they really missed the boat if they didn't come up with a concept more along the lines of "Go Fish", or this hole-in-the-wall place I've been to in the suburbs of Baltimore (it's always busy and the quality is great):

                                    Also, if they're going to call themselves an Oyster Bar they should have oysters prominently on the menu, not chicken, steaks and pasta. If I wanted those items I wouldn't go into a seafood place.

                                    Geez, Diana Seafood is one of the best places in town to buy oysters, why the hell aren't they on their in-house restaurant's menu on opening day?

                                    1. re: TexSquared
                                      warlock RE: TexSquared Aug 31, 2011 12:41 PM

                                      I had mailed them a couple of weeks back to check about Oyster shucking services,they replied back they did not do it,but they did mention that they would offer that service once the restaurant started....So I'm going to assume that they have oysters...why don't someone make a call or email them instead of assuming that they don't have oysters....

                                      1. re: TexSquared
                                        imrick RE: TexSquared Aug 31, 2011 12:50 PM

                                        A phone call confirmed that they have a daily selection of oysters ranging from $1.58 to $3.25 each (today's price). The selection is similar to that in the store.

                                        1. re: imrick
                                          TexSquared RE: imrick Aug 31, 2011 01:01 PM

                                          if they are offering this then this should be prominent on their online menu. I just looked now and the only oysters listed are battered and fried.

                                          1. re: TexSquared
                                            elvisahmed RE: TexSquared Aug 31, 2011 07:39 PM

                                            Well I am assuming they are not putting it online as it depends on whats in stock and what they want to serve at the restaurant. I think I counted at least 6 varieties on this visit. The crowd was picking up when I was leaving.

                                    2. re: scarberian
                                      Googs RE: scarberian Aug 31, 2011 07:29 PM

                                      Hear, hear scarberian. This is precisely the sort of menu I had been hoping for at the prices I expected to pay. So long as they have a nice, crisp white I can sip with dinner I'll be there. I love the direction Scarborough is heading in. There are people of taste with disposable income here. All they need are a few nice places to go.

                                    3. elvisahmed RE: Mandy Lin Aug 31, 2011 02:47 PM

                                      Hey folks here is my review

                                      This review is for the soft opening of this place. They officially opened on 29th Aug and are serving lunch for now. They don’t have the LLBO licence and according to them should have it by the weekend. The outdoor seating area is huge and it lies in front of their old store.
                                      Service was great and the server took his time explaining the menu.
                                      I wanted to try oysters as its Diana's after all a name synonymous with good oysters in Toronto.
                                      I ordered half dozen and let the server pick them for me while I waited for my Eating Buddy (EB) We 2 Kusshi Lucky Lime and Cotuit. They were 3 kind of accompaniments hot sauce, cocktail and Mennonite.
                                      I am more of purists so just dabbed them little bit of 3 oysters and rest I ate with lemon juice and horse radish.
                                      All the oysters were fresh and were close to perfection
                                      Kusshi really stood out.
                                      So far 5 Stars for the oysters.
                                      By this time my YEB had arrived and she ordered the same set for herself. She liked them as well and she is connoisseur of oysters.
                                      For mains I ordered the lobster club and she went with the halibut sandwich. They arrived shortly. The sandwiches looked good. The Halibut was actually was actually quite big. We split half and half so could try both items.
                                      Lobster Sandwich was OK with meat being great and sustaining the delicate flavour of lobster meat. The bread to meat ratio was off overall 3 stars
                                      Halibut sandwich was good. Nicely done sandwich and done just right (pan fried to perfection)
                                      Negative so far was the side of Salad that EB ordered and the fries were your run of the mill stuff.
                                      This is a bit of odd location for this kind of restaurant but I am sure it will get traffic when people get the wind of it.
                                      4 Stars over all and 5 Stars if you want to try Oysters.
                                      Wine list is ok with some wines in the 3$ for the bottle and available by glass. Some in the 50+ range. I can’t comment on the selection as I have to try them first.
                                      I will be back again for oysters.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: elvisahmed
                                        JamieK RE: elvisahmed Aug 31, 2011 07:05 PM

                                        thank you for your detailed review. I love Diana's as a seatood supplier so hope the best for this restaurant venture but agree with you that it's an odd location for this kind of venture.

                                        1. re: JamieK
                                          elvisahmed RE: JamieK Aug 31, 2011 07:26 PM

                                          You are welcome here are some pics

                                          1. re: elvisahmed
                                            Underdog Rally RE: elvisahmed Sep 1, 2011 06:43 AM

                                            That halibut sandwich looks pretty hefty. I'm glad there's an arm in the picture for scale... I think I'd pay $15 for that if it was really good. Have you been to the fish store in Little Italy, or is there any other reference you can compare it to?

                                            1. re: Underdog Rally
                                              elvisahmed RE: Underdog Rally Sep 1, 2011 08:26 AM

                                              Yeah the Halibut sandwich was hefty. I actually don't have a local reference point. But as I mentioned the star of the show are the oysters simply sublime.

                                          2. re: JamieK
                                            scarberian RE: JamieK Aug 31, 2011 08:23 PM

                                            As for location, aside from the reasons I mentioned in my prior message, I'm guessing it's due to economics and logistics as well. Economically you get more space in this location for less money than say downtown. Logistically your fresh supply of seafood is just steps away and you are the supplier. Start out where location is cheap and if successful, slowly expand to other areas i.e. in the Scarborough Town Centre area (high traffic area, no real seafood options and still close to the supply).

                                            As for people being confused by the ommission of oysters on the menu maybe its because "oyster bar" is in their name and so they didnt need to mention fresh oysters. Maybe they thought that it's a given that people would know they serve fresh oysters so why bother putting it in the menu. On the other hand it wouldn't have hurt to maybe include "Fresh Oysters on the half shell. Served with three types of condiments. Variety and price market dependent." Or something like that.

                                            Thanks for the review elvisahmed, can't wait to try it on my wife's bday.

                                        2. h
                                          Hot Burrs RE: Mandy Lin Sep 2, 2011 04:56 PM

                                          Ate ther this past week. They were unofficially open. I can report that the clam chowder is superb....apparently two types of clams are used to enhance flavour and texture.................sublime. I also tried the fried oysters and found them less appetizing..............too doughy for my liking and a little under-cooked. Chris the attentive owner(?) promised to investigate and explained things are very much in the de-dugging mode at present.. Ambience is lacking. An emphasis on local and sustainable would be welcome. Overall this place is a welcome addition to the Scarborough culinary scene (such as it is). The quality of product at the store is excellent. Hopefully the restaurant will be an agent of change in the neighbourhood.

                                          1. s
                                            Smorgasbord RE: Mandy Lin Sep 10, 2011 06:36 PM

                                            Sadly, this place is a big FAIL for me. Was there tonight and the place was full, but many people were extremely unhappy, talking to the owner and wait staff about various service and food issues. On the + side, they've done a lovely job with a previously ugly coffee shop. On the negative side, everything else... The wait times for food were upwards of 1 hour, even for something as simple as soup; we ordered drinks and food that never arrived [so we eventually cancelled them]; the pasta with scallops was hideous beyond belief [cold, rubbery scallops that smelled weird, mushy pasta]; portions were miniscule [crab cakes the size of loonies]; lunch menus given out to dinner patrons; food presented without the proper utensils; completely inept service; servers yelling at each other in front of customers; etc. etc. Also, considering they own the fish business, I feel that the price points are just too high, especially given the location [i.e. this isn't downtown]. I expect to pay more for quality seafood, but IMO this is gouging. To boot, the food just isn't that good, and as others have pointed out, the menu is seriously disappointing. $21 for the 'catch of the day' [which FYI, is the SAME 2 fish permanently printed on the menu?!] without even one side? There is a pent-up demand for somewhere nice and more upscale to go in Scarberia, and I fear that after the flurry of people trying it because it's new and promises to be that, but ultimately being disappointed, there'll be tumbleweeds blowing through the joint. Too bad, as I love their retail store; perhaps with a few serious menu tweaks and the staff getting their shit together, things will improve.

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: Smorgasbord
                                              ctl98 RE: Smorgasbord Sep 10, 2011 06:54 PM

                                              I was there for lunch today and thankfully my experience was much more pleasant than that. Yes, service wasn't flawless, which is understandable. But our food was served promptly, our waters refilled and 3 servers came to our table to make sure we had all our orders.

                                              I had a dozen malpeques (for a bargain price of $17.76) and had the lobster sandwich as well. The lobster sandwich was very nice, the lemony dressing adding just the acidity to the sandwich. Have I had better lobster rolls? Yes. But all in all, it was an experience I certainly would repeat.

                                              I do hope they sort out they issues because I would hate to see them close. I agree though that the menu is a bit ambitious. I would rather see 3 or 4 things that change based on what's fresh that day, prepared perfectly rather than the same mediocre food again and again.

                                              I have to admit, I haven't tried the dinner menu, but at least the sandwiches we had for lunch today were more than competent...and reasonably priced. I would come back, even if it's just to have a couple of dozen oysters and some wine.

                                              1. re: ctl98
                                                elvisahmed RE: ctl98 Sep 10, 2011 08:28 PM

                                                Wow Smorgasbord I am really sorry to hear your experience there I would be wary on going there for dinner.
                                                I guess we were lucky to go there for lunch and on the second day as there weren't many patrons so we got full attention of the server and my food was pretty good.
                                                The oysters combo we had was sublime and so was the halibut sandwich. The oysters alone are enough for me to make it up all the way from downtown.
                                                My experience was more inline with you ctl98. BTW how was the wine you tried as they didn't have LLBO licence when I went there. I guess I will have to go back again and maybe I will make it a point to go there for lunch.

                                                1. re: elvisahmed
                                                  jayt90 RE: elvisahmed Sep 10, 2011 09:04 PM

                                                  Diana's was slammed, not unexpected in the early days. As I mentioned way earlier, it will be a destination seafood house, after the wrinkles are ironed out.

                                                  1. re: jayt90
                                                    Googs RE: jayt90 Sep 11, 2011 06:47 AM

                                                    I'm with you jayt90. I allllways wait a while for any new restaurant to find their rhythm before I try them. I don't care how much experience you have, there's always something. It opened Aug 29. I'll consider going somewhere around Sept 29.

                                                    1. re: Googs
                                                      justsayn RE: Googs Sep 11, 2011 02:04 PM

                                                      Yes but CHers aren't happy unless they can bash a place after just one visit, or even better....before the place even opens!

                                                      1. re: justsayn
                                                        Davwud RE: justsayn Sep 11, 2011 06:16 PM

                                                        That's not limited to CH'ers.


                                                  2. re: elvisahmed
                                                    ctl98 RE: elvisahmed Sep 10, 2011 09:12 PM

                                                    No wine today, elvisahmed but when I go back for dinner I will for sure have some. They 5-6 red and white wines by the glass and another 5-6 by the bottle. I think they may have had a prosecco too. They also had a few beers, IIRC.

                                              2. Googs RE: Mandy Lin Nov 20, 2011 09:39 AM


                                                Diana's Oyster Bar & Grill
                                                2105 Lawrence Ave E, Toronto, ON M1R 2Z4, CA

                                                1. JamieK RE: Mandy Lin Dec 30, 2011 01:26 PM

                                                  Finally made it to Diana's. It was packed yesterday, had to wait in line for about 15 minutes. But well worth it. The oysters were superb! -- Viginica, Colville Bay, Sony Brook NY and French Kiss -- all delicious especially the French Kiss. Our server was helpful and friendly, taking the time to explain the different kinds of oysters on offer, even though it was busy. We let him choose the first dozen for us. I will definitely go back. Loved it.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: JamieK
                                                    Full tummy RE: JamieK Dec 30, 2011 08:28 PM

                                                    JamieK, did you eat anything other than oysters? Any cooked food? If so, what, and how was it?

                                                    1. re: Full tummy
                                                      JamieK RE: Full tummy Dec 31, 2011 01:02 PM

                                                      Just two dozen oysters and a bottle of prosecco :) ... the dishes I saw going by to get served sure looked good though.

                                                      The place is not that big, hence the line-up on a busy day during this holiday season. No reservations except for groups of 8 or larger. But they do have a large enclosed heated patio that we were told they were going to open up for the dinner service. Apparently they are expanding in the near future by building a permanent addition to replace the patio.

                                                      1. re: Full tummy
                                                        Googs RE: Full tummy Jan 2, 2012 04:20 PM

                                                        I'll take that one if I may JamieK.

                                                        Their cooked food is superb in both composition and execution. The quality of all ingredients high. Chef's palette is delicate bordering on Japanese sensibilities. Some dishes show his playful side. My only wish, and this is only intuition, is that he not hold himself back. It's folly to think we east of Victoria Park aren't ready for big creative ideas and big flavours.

                                                        I HIGHLY recommend you go with the specials of the day to see the fun side of chef.

                                                    2. f
                                                      frostie RE: Mandy Lin Jan 4, 2012 01:05 PM

                                                      I know many people who have gone to Diana's Seafood to buy oysters and seafood, and it's all very very fresh. The clams are huge, the meat inside them takes up the entire shell, unlike other clams that take up only half the shell. I've only gone a few times, but all their seafood items are great.
                                                      As for the restaurant, I think it's a great addition to the Wexford Heights area, and I stop by to get a couple oysters here and there, I'm a big fan of the Kumimoto's and the Belon's. The food there is great too, I've never had a bad meal there. One of my favourites is the mango and tuna tartare, I have it every time and it's always been delicious.

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: frostie
                                                        juno RE: frostie Feb 6, 2012 03:29 PM

                                                        The food's good at Diana's, as I discovered last week at dinner, and so is the service. Imaginative presentation, fish and seafood as fresh as you'll find in Toronto. But it's a teensy dining room, with maybe 26-28 seats at teensy tables set close together, and they don't take reservations - unless you're a table of eight or more. So if you shlep across the city to get there, you may be in for a wait as well - possibly even a long wait. Though you can kill time at the adjoining oyster bar, I suppose. If you order a bottle of white, and it comes in an ice bucket placed on your table, there's barely room for anything else. Much shifting of plates, bread, water glasses. Some discomfort. No place for someone with claustrophobia. Downtown prices: about 15-20% higher than you'd imagine they would be in that part of town. But the food - crab cakes and clams as appetizers, grilled sea bream and Diana's version of salad Nicoise as mains, is simply and precisely cooked, and quite tasty. The small glitches will, presumably, sort themselves out eventually. About $135 for two, all in, with a $33 bottle of wine, (but no dessert). Wine list could use some work. I'd go again - if I was in that neighbourhood, where I don't often find myself. But I don't relish a half-hour wait for a table again. I imagine it'll work well as a neighbourhood place rather than a destination.

                                                        1. re: juno
                                                          Googs RE: juno Feb 7, 2012 09:08 AM

                                                          I'm still planning on spending an entire evening at the oyster bar. I can't think of much nicer places to watch a game, sip on something fizzy, and slide back oysters. They count as game-watching finger-food, don't they?

                                                          My whites have arrived in an ice bucket set to the side of the table. I wonder what happened? I also think the wines well chosen. What did you find wrong with the wine list?

                                                          As for it's place, I HOPE it doesn't become a destination. I wanna keep that one all to myself.

                                                          1. re: Googs
                                                            juno RE: Googs Feb 7, 2012 09:50 AM

                                                            You had an ice bucket set to the side of your table? What a luxury at Diana's. There wasn't enough room at the side of my table - that's how tight space can be in the dining room. So on my table the ice bucket went. Maybe it's more spacious on the patio during good weather.

                                                            The small wine list is acceptable, but not much more than that. All out of Pinot Grigio? Not good. No well-priced Gewurtztraminer in a fish house? Also not good. More reds than they need, not enough whites. Markup is mostly about triple the LCBO prices, which is standard, I suppose. But how charming it would be to have one or two mad buys on the list, if only to keep the neighbourhood locals coming back.

                                                            1. re: juno
                                                              Googs RE: juno Feb 7, 2012 10:58 AM

                                                              Maybe they added some tables the night you were there. We've had, I wouldn't say plenty, but at least a comfortable amount of space between us and our next door neighbours.

                                                              I agree they have far more reds than a seafood restaurant really needs. You're right, if they ditched half od those they could open it up to more whites.

                                                              I stray towards the Sancerres and Chablis' with seafood so I wouldn't have noticed the lack of Gewurtztraminer. What were you trying to pair it with?

                                                              1. re: Googs
                                                                juno RE: Googs Feb 7, 2012 06:20 PM

                                                                Juno don't do wine pairings.

                                                                Wine pairings are beyond me. I just look for a drinkable bottle at a less-than-outrageous markup. My theory being that I'd rather reward the creative talent in the kitchen - the talent that transforms assorted ingredients into something interesting to eat - than reward a mundane and hilariously overpriced wine list that doesn't, in my view, take much talent to put together. In short, go big on the food, cheap out on the wine (if you can). At home is where I'll drink pricier bottles.

                                                                At least Diana's has a few bottles at a comparatively modest $33 in a city where the $40 restaurant bottle is becoming an endangered species. I was in the mood for a fish-friendly semi-dry Gewurtztraminer that night last week at Diana's, but it wasn't to be found. Nor was the $33 Pinot Grigio on the list - they were out of it. So we sucked it up and went with the next $33 bottle on the list. It was decent enough.

                                                      2. scarberian RE: Mandy Lin Mar 16, 2012 04:28 AM

                                                        I took my family to Diana's just yesterday after a long trip back from the in-laws (damn you 401!). It was one of those spare of the moment times when we happened to be passing by the joint and decided that 7 pm is too late to start cooking at home. As others have mentioned the dining area is tight, but we did see a building notice that they are expanding the dining area in the near future to include what is the outdoor patio section. Anyway we got a table for 3 right away and my wife felt the place was cozy in a good way. I found the tables to be a good enough size for dining and I'm a big guy. My wife ordered the clam chowder (cream based) and the grilled swordfish. My daughter had the kid's fish and chips. I started with sea urchin and for my main I had the grilled bream. The service was slow at first (just having our order taken took some time), however once our order was in it went pretty smoothly from there (there were 3 servers last night, but there was a steady stream of customers once we got in).

                                                        I never had sea urchin before, but it was very nicely presented. I got 3 servings, each on a crisp lotus root chip which was on a thinly sliced piece of cucumber. There were also micro greens which had a nice peppery flavour and a thick sauce streaked across the plate. Altogether the ingredients on the plate made for a very flavourful appetizer. I really enjoyed it. My phone died so I had no camera for pics (sorry folks!).

                                                        My wife's clam chowder was devoured by her and she enjoyed every drop. She said there were lots of clams in it and it did have a bacon flavour in the background.

                                                        My kid's fish and chips were nicely done. You could tell the fish was freshly battered and I never saw my child eat so quickly. She devoured the fish and scraped her plate. I believe her fries were home cut, but they were cut into wedges. She liked them, but couldn't finish her portion.

                                                        My wife's swordfish was nicely prepared and presented. It was grilled and had a sweet teriyaki sauce drizzled over it. It came with sautéed green beans and carrots. It was thick steak so she could only finish half of it.

                                                        My sea bream was excellent. I got the whole fish, butterflied, with the head. It was simply grilled, well seasoned and presented with undressed greens, sautéed green beans, radishes, and carrots. I got a half lemon to squeeze over the whole thing and the fish was delicate melt in your mouth good. One of the best seafood meals I've had. Simply done but done well.

                                                        Dinner, without alcohol and including tip, came to $109.

                                                        We will definitely go back and this time take my dad who loves his seafood. I will try their oysters next time.

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: scarberian
                                                          Googs RE: scarberian Mar 17, 2012 08:24 AM

                                                          So you've never had sea urching before and you start with that dish, an ode to Uni, Well done. Next up you have to give them a whirl at Zen. Just let it melt in your mouth for the full effect.

                                                          Composition is definitely chef's biggest strength. You can be subtle when you know how to pull all the senses together in a single bite. I hope he continues to explore and changes the menu from time to time rather than falling into complacency. He has the chops.

                                                          1. re: scarberian
                                                            JamieK RE: scarberian Mar 24, 2012 07:34 PM

                                                            Well done! Next time you must try the oysters. French Kiss, if on the menu, for sure!

                                                            1. re: scarberian
                                                              scarberian RE: scarberian Mar 24, 2012 08:54 PM

                                                              Ate there again today, but this time we took my dad and brother. They loved it. From the service to the presentation of the food, it was all very well done. We had to sit in the sheltered and heated patio, but it was warm enough. Sitting in the patio on a windy day may not be to other's liking as I was seated next to the plastic wall and every now then got bumped by them on the arm. I, myself, didn't mind, but for others it may be annoying. I could see the patio becoming a very popular area on a nice summer evening, but on a night like tonight, umm... no.

                                                              This time I started with the oysters (Cotuit from Cape Breton). I ordered 6 and I mostly used the marinara and, what I really liked, freshly shaved horseradish. These were excellent oysters with a nice "liquor" and a slightly sweet flavoured meat. I also tried one with the scotch bonnet sauce, but instead inhaled the sauce first before the meat. Um don't do that.

                                                              For my main I had a thick piece of grilled striped bass on a bed of sautéed green beans, sweet potato cubes, parsnip cubes, carrots and leeks. Very nicely done. The fish was moist and with a slight char flavour. The vegetables and the sauce complimented the fish. For dessert I shared the poached pears with my dad and I had an espresso.

                                                              My wife had the clam chowder as a starter and the mixed platter for her main which had 3 large grilled scallops, 3 medium grilled shrimp, sautéed vegetables and a grilled salmon. She enjoyed it, but couldn't finish the salmon. For dessert she had the creme brule.

                                                              My daughter shared the clam chowder with my wife and for her main she had the fish and chips.

                                                              My brother had the smoked trout salad and the grilled salmon and then finished the evening with the apple and pear crumble.

                                                              My father had the baked halibut and shared the poached pears with me. I never had poached pears before, but now I'm a fan. They were poached in red wine and served with crumbled blue cheese and pecans. It was was very flavourful.

                                                              Cost of dinner for 5 (with a tea, ice tea, apple juice, 2 coffees and an espresso) came to ~$255. Diana's opens at 5 for dinner and we got there just before 5:30. The manager said we usually would be able to get a table inside at this time, but they had an unexpected large party come in early. By the time we got out ~7:00 there was a lineup. Remember no reservations on Fridays and weekends.

                                                              1. re: scarberian
                                                                Teep RE: scarberian Apr 3, 2012 07:10 PM

                                                                Hmm, it appears their menu changes a bit - today the seafood platter had black cod on the printed menu, instead of salmon. And they said fish and chips are served up to 5pm only (or maybe they don't want my dad, a senior, to have "kids fish and chips"). But all the seafood is expertly cooked, that's for sure.

                                                                1. re: scarberian
                                                                  Googs RE: scarberian Apr 6, 2012 08:32 AM

                                                                  Darn you scarberian. I did a lot of research into Japanese restaurants I haven't tried yet only to end up at Diana's Oyster Bar (again) for my birthday (too many agains). Simple and simply fantastic as always. The smoked salmon appetizer was, without a doubt, the best one I've had anywhere period.

                                                                  Good call on the scotch bonnet btw. Lemon and horseradish is all you need when they're that good.

                                                              2. Ediblethoughts RE: Mandy Lin Apr 4, 2012 04:54 PM

                                                                I was there a couple weeks ago and had the seafood platter (the mix of shrimp, scallops and salmon---might have been called something else). While the quality of the food was very good and perfectly cooked, I didn't like how oily the base of the plate was---and the veg, covered in oil or butter. Probably made it worse that we had split the batter-fried calamari and clam chowder. Too much fatty stuff made us feel sick after. A pity too since clearly the quality of the fish & seafood is otherwise very good.

                                                                8 Replies
                                                                1. re: Ediblethoughts
                                                                  scarberian RE: Ediblethoughts Apr 9, 2012 11:51 AM

                                                                  I'm at that age where my body just can't handle too much grease that's why I stick mostly with the grilled stuff. I know what you mean with that feeling when you eat heavy, fatty food.

                                                                  1. re: scarberian
                                                                    Ediblethoughts RE: scarberian Apr 9, 2012 12:13 PM

                                                                    Good advice. I'm not sure if they offered what I was looking for in grilled format!

                                                                    1. re: Ediblethoughts
                                                                      Googs RE: Ediblethoughts Apr 9, 2012 06:51 PM

                                                                      You perhaps overloaded on fats from the combination of the chowder and fried calamari. It possibly filled you for the rest of the dinner.

                                                                      I humbly recommend you split the appetizer choices. Go with one of their delectable seafood salads (I include the sea urchin in this) or grilled calamari or perhaps, oh you know, oysters and THEN one of the more, I hesitate to say decadent when they all feel that way, heavier choices. Then you might be more prepared for the dinner to come.

                                                                      1. re: Googs
                                                                        Ediblethoughts RE: Googs Apr 9, 2012 07:30 PM

                                                                        I'd really enjoy the seafood I was given if it came with 1/4 of that oil. My selections were unwise for sure but I always get turned off by that kind of preparation and unless I know I could escape it next time in a main, I wouldn't go back. Quite a few places that I've otherwise liked for quality and flavours and such have not gotten repeat visits for that same reason. It's a deal breaker for me.

                                                                        1. re: Ediblethoughts
                                                                          Googs RE: Ediblethoughts Apr 10, 2012 04:58 PM

                                                                          That's unfortunate, but completely understandable. I haven't had anything overdone in oil. It's too bad it happened to you. Well if you're ever in the neighbourhood again, maybe some oysters with something sparkly.

                                                                          1. re: Googs
                                                                            Ediblethoughts RE: Googs Apr 10, 2012 07:12 PM

                                                                            Always a thought---though I'm more into the cooked oysters (which I don't think they have, do they?).

                                                                            1. re: Ediblethoughts
                                                                              Googs RE: Ediblethoughts Apr 13, 2012 06:35 AM

                                                                              On one visit they had Oysters Rockfeller which my sister enjoyed. I don't see the dish on the online menu. Perhaps it was a special.

                                                                              1. re: Googs
                                                                                Teep RE: Googs Apr 13, 2012 07:40 AM

                                                                                I think it was listed on the separate "specials" menu which had pasta of the day etc.

                                                                2. g
                                                                  GlennScarborough RE: Mandy Lin Jul 4, 2012 11:05 AM

                                                                  Finally made it there last week. It's a smaller place inside than I expected. They could easily fill more tables at dinnertime. I have to say the crab cake seemed a bit dry and needed more of a sauce on the side. Tasty just the same. The New England Clam Chowder was fantastic. Best I've ever had. I chose the Catch of the Day which was pickerel with couscous, asparagus and a grilled pineapple slice. The fish was cooked just right. Asparagus was too tough to eat and the pineapple slice was beautifully sweet yet comes uncored so you have to eat around it. I'll be back for salmon next time and more of that wonderful chowder.

                                                                  1. s
                                                                    smfan RE: Mandy Lin Jul 4, 2012 01:27 PM

                                                                    Fried battered oyster, cooked littleneck calms, and lobster are also very good.

                                                                    1. Charles Yu RE: Mandy Lin Sep 22, 2012 05:35 PM

                                                                      I was intending to drive downtown to Starfish for some oysters and fish this evening. However, traffic on the DVP was atrocious. May be everyone was heading down to the ACC for UFC#152?!

                                                                      Anyways, I made a diversion and drove over to Diana's instead.
                                                                      I sat at the bar and ordered a dozen of the so called 'exotic' oyster varietal including Belon from Maine and Gigas and Irish Rock from Ireland. For the hot dishes, I had the 'Grilled Octopus and the 'Hot Scallops and crab meat au gratin'

                                                                      The hot dishes was tasty. The octopus was ultra tender and full of smokey flavor. The scallop and crab had a tasty cream sauce but was inconsistent with the distribution and amount of crab meat. I had a couple of scallops with almost no crab meat on them! Unfortunately, offsetting the taste was that both supposedly 'hot' dishes came out of the kitchen 'luke warm'!!

                                                                      Lastly, a word about the service!! IT WAS BAD!!!!! The shucker/waiter was unfriendly in both his tone of voice and attitude! Request for water was ignored even with prompting. Description of the oysters were inaudible. Should have visited Patrick at Starfish instead!!!.

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