Cool City Oyster Yard
Just had dinner there. Oysters are good, crayfish bad. Annoying that you have to order minimum 2 same paella dishes at $20 plus each (we only wanted one).
Panoramic view of a parking lot, overpriced, and the service is worse than bad. Took 20 minutes for the drinks to be served, by which time several dishes were already long gone.
Trendy, but a waste of money.
I've been twice now and had very much the same experience the second time as the first.
- oysters (selection of all, 6 on offer)
- oyster po' boy
Both times the oyster were quite fresh and featured a nice East/West selection (Lucky Limes, Kumamotos, etc), but several had small pieces of shell in them which is always unpleasant.
The octopus was excellent. Wonderfully tender with the right amount of char crunch and flavour. The chorizo provided surprising but pleasant spice and the accompaniments (piquillo peppers, pepitas, peas and fennel) were in appropriate proportions and complemented the octopus nicely.
The sardines had their bones expertly removed such that sufficient meat remained. Perfectly grilled with very little oil and key lime such that the dense, rich flavour of the sardine was apparent.
The po' boy was quite decent, served on a baguette with a tangy but slightly too creamy slaw for my tastes. The oyster was slightly over-battered but still maintained some inner delicateness.
Wine list was short but with some nice, fairly-priced selections for $30-50.
Overall, the food and drink was quite enjoyable. But here's why I will likely never return.
The service was utterly atrocious, with both times vying for the worst service I've had all year in Toronto. Incredibly slow to take drink and food orders, everything had to be repeated, never any drink refills, completely forgotten items (first time we ordered sardines and the po' boy which never came, asking to have them cancelled was unacceptably awkward, nothing was ever comped and we were ultimately charged the sardines and po' boy which had to be challenged), and the food in general took a long time to arrive. On our second visit we witnessed one of the servers publicly demean and argue with another server in front of all the customers. You just don't do that.
Much of the menu and vibe is cheesy and awkward ("paellapalooza", branded t-shirts hanging up) and while I appreciate the urbanity of the setting, the parking lot view does get tired.
The kitchen had admirable technique with a sold if perhaps not daring menu. It's unfortunate that everything else about this place fell apart.