100 Adelaide Street East
In her opinion:
I have probably said this a few times but Winterlicious is a great opportunity to try out restaurants that you normally wouldn't without paying full price! So when I spotted the 3 course prix fix menu at Starfish Oyster Bed and Grill for $20.00, I quickly made a reservation.
Starfish is a Zagat rated seafood hotspot in Toronto's downtown core. It has gotten some good press in the past and it is hugely popular with the oyster loving crowd.
When we arrived at Starfish, we were quickly seated at a corner booth, which was great for our small family of three. The restaurant itself is not huge...it's a long room with a separate dining area in the back, a long bar, banquettes and a few high and low tables in front and beside the bars. In a word, comfy is how I would describe the space. It was nicely decorated with starfish motifs and exudes a seaside cottage feel.
Our waitress came to take our drink orders right away. I had a half pint of Harp Lager. I thought it was a fitting match for the seafood I was about to eat.
For my appetizer, I picked the Green Gables P.E.I oysters. For the lunch portion four oysters were served with seafood sauce, lemon and freshly grated horseradish.
Let's just say that these oysters were superb! I haven't yet met an oyster that I didn't like and these babies were no exception. They just needed a squeeze of lemon and down the hatchet they went. So fresh and tasting of the sea...absolutely perfect!
For my main course, I opted for the steamed P.E.I. mussels, in a Provencal style tomato, fennel, and herb broth, served with house cut frites and mayonnaise.
I love mussels. But, more importantly I make some pretty outstanding mussels at home. So I am always weary of trying mussels that I didn't prepare myself but since Starfish has a great reputation where their seafood is concerned, I decided it was worth a try. I'm glad I did. The Provencal style broth that the mussels was cooked in was flavourful and delicious. The frites were French fry perfection and I liked that they included the mayonnaise with the order. That is how mussels and frites should be served. Overall, my main was fabulous.
For dessert, I chose the Starfish's famous sticky toffee pudding. I am so glad that I did too. Sticky toffee pudding is a personal favourite...it's comfy food as it's finest.
This sticky toffee pudding was outstanding. The flavours were perfect. The caramel sauce was excellent. I think I had about half of it down before Edgar even started on his dessert...he was busy taking pictures of his fabulous dessert! I really enjoyed this dessert. Just the perfect ending to a perfect meal!
Overall, I think our Winterlicious lunch at Starfish was super! I ate extremely well for $20. The food was fresh and delicious and the service was good. I would recommend this place to any seafood lover out there!
In his opinion:
The quest for good fish and seafood is a serious one in this part of the world. Apart from some restaurants that pay and go the extra mile to ensure freshness, there is no other way to eat freshly caught fish or seafood as you would in Newfoundland or Vancouver.
Fortunately, there are some places that take this delicious part of gastronomy seriously enough to excel in serving it, and have it readily available for us "sea lovers". Starfish happens to be one of these places. Regarded mainly as an Oyster Bar, they do carry a wide variety of "sea creatures" for all tastes and delights.
We walked in and were seated promptly in a corner booth. The menu had some "sea favourites" calling my name and that made choosing harder. The fixed price menu has already narrowed it down to 3 choices for each course and still I find myself contemplating what to have. After ordering a pint of Flying Monkey lager, from the Barrie, Ontario craft brewery to stall some time, I finally made my decisions.
For starters, I ordered the "house smoked haddock fishcakes" with roasted chioggia beets, pickled haricot beans and sweet onion jam. The fishcake was delicious and fresh, soft on the inside and slightly crunchy on the outside. The drawback was that the menu said "fishcake(s)" and I got only one fishcake and it was the size of a toonie roughly. As small as it was, it tasted delicious.
For my entree I ordered the filet of "Nova Scotia Seabream", served with a winter squash and brown butter puree, roasted brussels sprouts, house smoked bacon and toasted pumpkin seeds. The fish was perfectly done, skin nice and crispy as I like and the fish was soft and well cooked. The silky brown butter puree was a great compliment to the texture of the fish and was delicious when eaten with the pumpkin seeds. Vegetables were cooked well, slightly charred on the outside giving it a grilled taste which was a nice touch.
For dessert I ordered the "roasted pear and ginger tartlette" with vanilla ice cream and candied ginger. The ice cream was delightful and complemented the tartlette very well. I expected the ginger to have more of contrast in the dessert, especially when it was used in two different manners but it did feel lost in the flavours, feeling and tasting quite nonexistent.
The Good: Great little spot for fish and seafood with emphasis on oysters.
The Bad: Apart from their inability to count fishcakes, I'm really peeved when 18% tip is included in the bill. I'm a good tipper but I hate the idea of entitlement, especially when the service is not top notch, which it wasn't.
The Verdict: I would like to return to try some more of their menu, not sure at this point that the menu "faux pas" or the automatic tipping of 18% is enough to put me off, but food for thought.
I give it 3 out of 5 Olives as rating