- The Entrée:
- The Sides/Drinks:
- The Atmosphere:
When you think seafood, what comes to mind? See, here in Toronto, we tend to be drawn to a few go-to selections like salmon, tuna, scallops, lobsters and oysters. I would say those are traditionally the heavy hitters on restaurant menus. Once we move outside of those choices, we tend to become a little less knowledgeable. Red Fish is a new seafood restaurant that’s located around the College and Ossington area. They’re offering a wider variety of seafood that’s a little different such as perch and arctic char.
890 College Street
Toronto, ON M6H 1A3
A few of us from the team were recently hosted by co-owners, Sommelier Jaime Duran and Chef David Friedman over at Red Fish . Though we were excited to be there, I have to admit, I’ve never personally been the biggest seafood fanatic in the world. But in my defense, Chef David Friedman shared with us that while growing up, he too didn’t love fish, not even fish sticks. Since then, his palate has become expansive as his sense of adventure has taken him to work all over the world. Being a born and raised “Toronto Chef”, he’s glad to bring his expertise from Vancouver, a small fishing village in Japan, and many of other parts of the world back to Toronto. David shared how these life experiences have helped shape him as a person and as a chef. Being in Japan, he got the chance to really look at the fish as they’re caught and gain perspective on what processes are most important. That level of accessibility to the ocean is something he still misses to this day here in Toronto.
On their menus, you’ll spot a little Ocean Wise logo found on the top right corner. Jaime and David both are believers of using seafood that’s sustainable. As partners with Ocean Wise, they are committed to supporting solutions for healthier oceans and protecting the aquaculture for our planet. But much more than that, they are dedicated to delivering delicious hearty food . At Red Fish, the belief is when you take care of the product from beginning to end, you’ll end up with better results. It’s as simple as that.
During our visit, we got a chance to try their date-night menu, reasonably priced at $60 for 2 people. We also tried a few key dishes that caught our attention from the regular menu such as the Seared Weathervane Scallops with octopus hash, Arctic Char with apple/horseradish gnocchi and a Maritime Classic, Brandade served with clarified butter. But as a heads up, the menu does change as the availability of seafood fluctuates. David invited us back to the kitchen and being foodies, this was an invitation we could not turn down. Seeing David and the team in action was a wonderful experience. It does nothing but give you a greater appreciation to how food is prepared, cooked and plated. David shares how he likes to cook with no more than 3-4 elements per dish. This focuses on key ingredients that compliment the food and allows people to taste the essence of the fish. Being in the kitchen and smelling all the aromas, it definitely built up our appetites.
So how were the dishes you may ask? While we felt some of the non-seafood dishes were slightly weaker, they were by no means bad. I don’t think there was a seafood plate we didn’t enjoy. Seafood is Red Fish’s strength and David is truly in his element when he’s cooking it. The scallops we ordered were perfectly cooked and seared. The Arctic Char with the apple/horseradish gnocchi was my favourite dish. There was a mild crispiness as you cut into the fish with a good balance of flavour and light seasoning. The fish was tender, juicy, and the succulent gnocchi really completed the dish. David confirmed that this is one of his best selling dishes, almost every table orders it and I can see absolutely why. We also sampled the Brandade and the arugula salad from the date-night menu. The Brandade had a smooth and buttery consistency. It had the perfect blend of cod and mash, a great choice for the cold winter months. The arugula salad, though simple in theory, had just the right balance of flavours and textures with quinoa, cranberry and toasted butternut chips. Every bite was filled with this satisfying freshness that left you wanting more. This was a testament to Red Fish’s theme – how good ingredients that are simply well put together can make something as simple as a salad quite memorable. David even makes all the pastries and bread they serve, a skill set he honed when he was working with Chef Alfred Contiga who is an amazing pastry chef now living in Vancouver. If it’s not fresh from the market, it’s fresh from the oven, from banana bread to French toast to waffles (available on their brunch menu, including the notable duck wings and waffles).
One of the highlights of our night was when David took the time to sit down and chat with us. This is something he loves doing with his customers. And that’s the type of person and chef David is, real and very approachable. So when you go, feel free to talk to Jaime or David, or even tell them we say hi. They are super down-to-earth people. Their goal: serve you up something that will have you leaving the restaurant happy. They genuinely care for their customers and this was felt on a personal level with all our team members there that night. David hopes to bring back that old feel of a restaurant when it was about the food and the people you’re with, not to be seen or heard.
Red Fish in our mind truly is that neighborhood seafood establishment that welcomes everyone. David shared how a few diners stopped in for just a few drinks and bites, but ended up staying for 4 hours. So whether you’re in a suit or in shorts during the summer months, there is always a table open for you. We enjoyed the sincerity David and Jaime are about the quality of the food and the simplicity used to make the dish. Red Fish – quality seafood simply cooked well.
The Damage: around $150 after tax for three