In case you couldn’t tell, I love my birthday. And I celebrate it a lot, hence the excessive amount of posts related to my birthday and food. My birthday celebrations started on October 11th, with my actual birthday being on October 16th, and the last celebration will be on October 23rd. Ridiculous I know, but it is once a year so why not make a fuss about it!
For dinner on my birthday GC and I went to Fishbar, a seafood tapas restaurant located at Dundas and Ossington. I first came across Fishbar on our first visit to this area for burgers at BQM and have been craving it ever since. My birthday seemed like the perfect opportunity to give it a try.
Fishbar has a fantastic look, starting with its logo: a simple fish skeleton. It is slightly creepy but simple, and with the promise of you getting every drop of sweet, flaky fish.
The restaurant features a long wall of exposed brick, which adds warmth and a touch of rusticness. The flooring is tile that has been weathered and treated to look like it has been there for years and has been tread on by thousands of people. Our favourite feature was a series of mirrors that were actually convex parking garage mirrors that reflected the scene of the restaurant. The back wall featured an extensive wine collection and served as art itself with its simplicity and sparkle. Behind the bar there were framed anatomical photos of seafood which illustrated the science behind the deliciousness you were enjoying. The design of this restaurant was cozy, but sophisticated and upscale. I felt so comfortable and at home, which is a great feeling to have before enjoying an amazing meal.
So I can now officially get behind Caesar’s. This is the third one I have had and I loved #’s 2 and 3. Spicy, thick and a fresh taste like a summer garden, I loved it. The shrimp garnish of this Caesar was a thing of beauty all on its own. It was meaty, thick and fresh and the spiciness of the horseradish contrasted the fruity notes of the shrimp. The horseradish was freshly grated, spicy but tasty. A cocktail is a must at this restaurant.
Our server was very good. He gave us a brief introduction to the menu and how much food was suggested per person: 2-3 plates. We ordered 6 plates in total but honestly I think you could get away with 2 per person, depending on which plates you order.
1. Fishbar Taco
Fishbar Taco with halibut and shrimp ceviche, guacamole, bird’s eye chili, in a corn tortilla. I think this might be my new favourite fish taco. It isn’t a fish taco in the traditional sense; the fish isn’t battered and fried but rather slightly cured in citrus juices. I like this because it highlights all the natural flavours of the seafood rather than smothering them in batter. The halibt and shrimp work in tandem together to create a balance of flakiness and heartiness. The guacamole was fresh and creamy, with a strong cilantro flavour to it. There wasn’t a lot of heat from the bird’s eye chili but enough to dance with the citrus seafood. I would have preferred a soft shell taco because hard shell tacos remind me of Old El Paso taco kits.
2. Crispy Calamari
Crispy Calamari with Sirachi aioli. This was mostly good but some (meaning two or three) of the pieces of calamari were tough and chewy. I like my calamari to have a more delicate and flaky coating, this coating reminded me too much of an onion ring. The aioli was excellent. It had the right amount of creamy spice to it. I found it to be better than the calamari itself.
3. Line Caught Tuna Tartare
Line caught tuna tartare with wasabi-lime-soy vinegraitte, avocado and yucca chips. If you are looking to experiment with tartares, start with a seafood tartare. They are less daunting because you know you can eat seafood raw. This was amazing. The tuna was light, but meaty and almost creamy. The lime played up the fruitiness of the tuna. I often forget how well other citrus fruits pair with seafood. The traditional choice is lemon but there is so much more you can use than just lemons. The avocado beneath the tuna served as almost a guacamole. With the yucca chips you could interpret this as a deconstructed taco. The yucca chips were delicious. Sturdy enough for scooping but with a perfect crunch with every bite. This was my first time eating yucca and it was a successful and positive introduction.
4. Lobster Mac & Cheese
Lobster Mac & Cheese with Gruyere, cheddar and truffle essence. As far as a mac & cheese, this was good. Gruyere has such a smoky, robust flavour that works so well with being baked. I couldn’t taste the cheddar or the truffle essence. For me, not tasting the truffle essence was no real loss to me. I find truffle is used excess when used and takes away from the flavours it is supposed to be highlighting. As a lobster mac & cheese, this was lacking. The chunks of lobster were not big enough and the delicateness of the lobster could not stand up to the overpowering nature of the Gruyere. But at the end of the day, you are still eating lobster mac and cheese so it is going to be a certain level of yums. And yes, I had lobster twice in one day. As I would say with my sister when talking about eating excessive amounts of lobster, “Living like a king!”
5. Baja Diver Scallops
Baja diver scallops with apple butter and pancetta crisps. Omigosh. This has to be my favourite dish of the night. Scallops are my favourite type of seafood, hands down. They are simple and delicate but at the same time so meaty and rich. These scallops were perfectly seared, beautifully browned and crispy on the outside but so meaty and fleshy on the inside. The meatiness they had was almost that of a thick-capped mushroom. The apple butter was sweet, thick and creamy. It almost tasted like caramel, adding another level of decadence to this dish. The pancetta crisp looked like a spiralled rose, and was extremely crispy. It really resembled a chip. The pancetta had been cooked so much that it tasted exactly like bacon. If you go to Fishbar, this plate is a must order.
6. Beer Battered Fish & Chips
Beer battered fish & chips with Atlantic haddock and tartar sauce. This is the best battered fish I have had. The batter was so light, buttery and flaky, it was exactly like a croissant. It not only had all the textured qualities of a croissant, it actually tasted like the fish had been wrapped in a thin layer of croissant pastry. The fish had the same texture of the batter. The tartar sauce had a subtle pickled flavour rather than a fake, neon green relish taste. The French fries were crispy and juicy, as if they had been fried in animal fat rather than just oil. This plate would be an appropriate amount of food if you weren’t overly hungry and weren’t planning on sharing.
Needless to say, I was incredibly stuffed after this meal. I desperately wanted to have dessert but unfortunately, there was no room. Everything with fresh and perfectly cooked. All the pairing in the dishes created a balanced palate of flavours, colours and textures. This is one of the best dining experiences I have had in a long time.
We are already planning our next visit. I want to try the oysters…