Fishbar - New Restaurant Openning Soon on Ossington
I was driving home from work the other day and saw a new place two doors down from Libretto. A small sign on the papered windows indicated that the new place, called Fishbar, would have the following items on the menu:
Soft shell crab
Po boy sandwiches
Beer and wine
No idea when it will open but it could be any time now that the moratorium has been lifted. Looks very interesting.
Beluga Cavair and Po Boy sandwiches on the same menu?! Interesting!
Next McDonalds will steal the idea and start putting seared foie gras and black truffles on their menu?! Ha!
There's going to be a restaurant implosion in that part of town. How many can they fit per block??
I had a chance to try most of the items on Fishbar's current menu tonight.
Most dishes were ok, some were good. Liked their version of fried calamari and the trout rillettes. Liked the vinegary anchovies on a crisp (not the sourdough mentioned on the menu), but they could serve more than 3 tiny anchovies for the $7 or $8 they charged. In most tapas restaurants (our server mentioned Fishbar is meant to be like a tapas restaurant, so that's why I'm comparing their portions to tapas), you'd end up with at least 6-8 marinated anchovies, maybe more, on a plate.
Kitchen still seems to be working out some timing issues- our side dishes of asparagus and rapini arrived a good 20 minutes after the fish mains, a couple minutes after we mentioned that we'd like to cancel the order of veggies since we'd pretty much finished the rest of our food..3 butter-poached scallops, each roughly the size of a quarter, with a half cup of french fries, are not worth $16. Made the Digby scallops at Nota Bene look like a bargain. If you like fish/seafood, I think Nota Bene is a good bet right now, and offers more value than Fishbar (as do Zee Grill, Starfish and Rodney's By Bay). The ceviche was ho hum- much better to get your ceviche at Milagro. Nice batter on the fish (halibut) in the fish & chips. The good news is that someone in that kitchen is skilled with the deep frying- something that isn't easy to find in TO.
217 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON M6J 2Z7, CA
Agreed. I found most of the food to be tasty, but the service to be rather flaky. They are nice enough to let you taste their wines by the glass prior to committing, which is always a welcome thing. But the timing issues were annoying and our request to have part of a main course ordered as a side dish was met with reluctance to ask the kitchen and then...nothing. No follow up, no sample, no side dish.
As mentioned, there is a nice hand with fried goods -- really excellent calamari and fish and chips. I enjoyed the trout rillette, the sardines, the brandade (which was kinda of boring, really, but in a reasonably tasty sort of way), and the caesar salad with an excellent smoked mackerel.
I was kind of disappointed that a restaurant called Fishbar didn't actually have more cooked fish options on their menu. There was a heavy lean towards oysters and raw/cured fish: ceviche, sashimi, salmon tartare, seared tuna. The only cooked fish items were fried: smelts and the fish and chips. It would have been nice to have grilled, roasted or pan-fried fish options, even if only as specials.
Bottom line for me was that dinner was pretty good, with the exception of the oddly variable service, but I doubt I'll be heading back.
well to add on to your first comment about service. since we were there fairly early in the night i was surprised when we asked for a substitute on a hot dish to swap a side that there was a firm no. it wouldn't have ruined the integrity of the dish, the kitchen wasn't busy yet, and typically they just charge a fee for it. but the firm no without much explanation was a little weird for me. perhaps their kitchen is still learning and too slow right now to manage that. did appreciate the mentioning of specials' prices when listing them.
i'd mostly agree with the comments about the food. there was only one (maybe 1.5) serious miss for me, a lot of ok/good dishes and perhaps two standouts i'd pull up to the bar and snack on regularly if i were in the nabe. the real killjoy for me was that they severely oversalted a lot of their greens and i was chugging water once i got home to compensate. am actually kind of surprised that their oyster list is as short as it is.
i think the menu and website kind of says it all though for what kind of experience you're going to receive. it's not extensive, it's not complicated, it's small plates and the design is trying but haphazard (how anyone is perching themselves on those ridiculously tiny stools is beyond me). i was hoping it would be a level below starfish, but really it's maybe two or three - good for a very casual night.
oh and lastly, i know it's too late, but they need to ramp up the ventilation in there badly. my hair and clothing smelt like fryer and char grill. will never sit in the back half of the space again.
Oh lord, I forgot about that. A special shout out to the remarkably uncomfortable seating. My legs were almost numb by the end of the dinner from the sharp corner of the bench seat cutting into the backs of my thighs. This was at the booth tucked away by the kitchen. And hot. It was really hot. And smoky.
The interesting part, is that this table is where Fishbar seats groups who make reservations a couple weeks in advance. Fishbar insists on no less than 6 guests for a reservation, then seat the group of 6 at a table that's incredibly hot and smells like whatever is cooking, When I walked in, the friendly host mentioned that they had a great table for us. He was sincere when he said it. Maybe he isn't aware of how hot it is back there, because he's lucky enough to work closer to the front of the restaurant, where there's lots of ventilation.
I can imagine how hot working in that kitchen might be back there, since we were next to it. That might be the reason they're offering so many cold dishes, and not roasting/cooking/frying more dishes on the menu.
The restaurant was less than half-full when we arrived, so we would have had a better table, with more ventilation, and more comfortable seats, if we walked in with a group of 6.