Joanne Kates drops anchor at the Commodore, a small but serious seafood restaurant
Plus the 905’s new Spanish restaurant impresses with its high-end paella and more
1265 Queen St. W. $80 Dinner for two
The team that designed Bar Raval has made such a sweet resto, the grand curving wood reminiscent of Raval. The look is maritime without kitsch, nary a lobster pot or fishnet in sight, but we know they refer gently to the seaside with the arched white wooden walls and ceiling, and multiplicity of porthole-like round lights peppering the ceiling. These were salvaged from the old and regrettable Captain John’s ship resto that was moored for 40 years at the foot of Yonge Street.
I’m pretty sure they look better in their new home.
We quite like the servers too: They are both knowledgeable and cool, minus that nasty we’re cooler than you attitude that sometimes afflicts downtown west servers when dealing with those of, shall we say, mature years.
We love the swordfish crudo, perfectly fresh flesh dressed with shiso leaf for fragrance, Trinidad peppers for heat, pickled sea asparagus for sour, soy for umami and a crown of crispy chicken skin for sexy. And the Cape Breton sweet baby shrimp served on sourdough with anchovy brown butter sauce. And the duck confit with just enough Kewpie mayo for happy sin, chilies, scallions, toasted peanuts and mint, and served on a gossamer crispy coconut cream crepe made of tapioca starch and rice flour. For $12!
Sometime’s there’s a divinely creamy black risotto of squid ink built on braised cured meat with chopped calamari. For $13!
For dessert we get very busy inhaling pumpkin pudding served in an antique teacup, topped with brûléed meringue. And a delightful tart of caramelized apple with almond crumble atop crème anglaise, in the tenderest crust I’ve met in months. Maybe years.
This is a small and out-of-theway but serious restaurant. You can feel and taste that they want very badly to excel.
Their utter absence of pretension or that too-cool-forschool attitude combined with their wonderful kitchen are precisely the reason why you’re going to have a hard time getting a table.
We are deeply grateful that they take reservations. You gotta be, nowadays.
Clockwise from left: the Commodore does nautical without the kitsch, their Cape Breton shrimp, a variety of pintxos at Tapagria