Please people. Do yourself a favour and venture north of Bloor to 744 St. Clair Ave. where you'll find Catch, one of my favourite seafood restaurants in the city right now.
Open Tuesdays to Sundays at 5 PM for dinner and Sundays from 11 AM to 3 PM for brunch, Catch (Twitter: @catch_toronto, Facebook: Catch) is a friendly neighbourhood restaurant serving high-quality, refined seafood dishes at affordable prices. Head chef Matty Cowan (formerly of Simple Bistro) is incredibly original with his menu and brings creative combinations of ingredients, flavours and textures together, showcasing seafood in new and interesting ways. Have you ever had octopus meatballs? Or an octopus-based bolognese? How about a "Fishermans Pie" - a twist on the "Shepherd's Pie" - that's made with lobster, scallops and shrimp? I certainly have not.
Ian Moores is currently making some very tasty craft cocktails at Catch.
The view from my seat at the bar. I love the space here; it's intimate, warm and cozy, and I love the modest open kitchen at the back. I'm also obsessed with that wooden ceiling.
A quick peek in the kitchen. Hi chef!
Our seafood feast began with cocktails (as it should with all feasts):
Hendricks gin + junmai sake, st. germain + chartreuse, fresh cucumber, yuzu juice, green tea syrup
THE CATCH CAESAR
Gin + vodka, roasted clamato, prawn cracker rim, fresh lime, pickled veg + cilantro
OYSTERS ON THE HALF SHELL
Cider shallot mignonette, cam’s hot sauce, horseradish, with oysters from Village Bay, Merigomesh, Kumomoto, Read Island
After the oysters, chef Cowan brought out what seemed to be a never-ending number of courses. Prepare to feast your eyes on some incredibly delicious seafood.
NEW BRUNSWICK CHOWDER
Mussels, clams, lobster, bacon, cream
SMOKED MACKEREL SALAD
Beets, pickled shallots, horseradish dressing
KING CRAB "CAESAR" SALAD
Heirloom tomatoes, pickled celery, clamato vinaigrette
Tonnato aioli, black olives, pickled radish
Sweet + sour mustard turnips, lemon-caper brown butter
White bean + spicy fennel salad, chorizo jam
Octopus bolognese, homemade ricotta gnocchi
PAN SEARED DIVER SCALLOPS
Roasted parsnip + bone marrow puree, kale chips
SALT-BAKED WHOLE EUROPEAN SEA BASS
SAUTEED SWISS CHARD + CRUNCHY CRUMB, ZUCCHINI FRIES (sides)
THE DRUNK'N PUMPK'N
Johnnie walker black, domains de canton ginger liqueur, pumpkin puree and spices, aromatic bitters
JERK OFF ON YOUR OWN THYME
Appleton estate, tia maria, ginger, jerk spices, vanilla syrup, lime and a tincture of thyme
STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING
Warm toffee sauce, bourbon ice cream
APPLE CRISP PARFAIT
Caramelized apples, crisp crumble, vanilla cream
Despite the fact that Catch's menu has already been changed since my extravagant dinner there a month ago, I would still go back in a heartbeat (more the reason to actually). I genuinely love what chef Cowan (@ChefMattCowan81) is doing at Catch; his plates are eccentric and creative, and above all else, delicious.
To start off, Cowan's New Brunswick Chowder is probably one of the best seafood chowders I've ever had. Creamy yet not overly rich, the chowder is smooth - not congealed - with a generous helping of delectable shellfish and bacon. Seasoned perfectly, it's everything I would want in a chowder. Next up was a nice Smoked Mackerel Salad which I found myself enjoying a lot more than I expected (I shouldn't be surprise since beets have always been my go-to salad ingredient and I've always appreciated mackerel). Here, the mackerel's usual "fishy" characteristic was immensely toned down by the smoke, and the result paired surprisingly well with root vegetables. Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy the King Crab "Caesar" Salad as much. I liked the idea of a "Deconstructed Caesar" (and by "Caesar" I do mean the cocktail and not the salad) but it was too salty for my taste, perhaps chef Cowan was a bit heavy handed with the salt and seasoning for this particular dish that evening. Plates thereafter were soundly executed; the finely chopped Veal Tartare was nicely complemented with the sprinkle of crunchy black olive; I thought the use of sweet and sour turnips and capers as acidic components in the Sturgeon Schnitzel was brilliant (I would still welcome a wedge of lemon though); the Grilled Octopus was supple and tender but not to the point where it lacked texture (I hate using this word but the octopus still had very good "mouth-feel"); the soft ricotta dumplings - which at first glance looked deceivingly like scallops - were incredibly hearty and delicious especially when smothered in Cowan's rich octopus-based bolognese; and finally, the classic Pan Seared Scallops on a pool of creamy parsnip & bone marrow puree was nothing short of brilliant. To ensure I roll out of Catch in a food coma, Cowan ended our savoury courses with a whole salt-baked sea bass. This wasn't on the menu and I was apparently the first person to try it at Catch. Happy to be a guinea pig, I found myself enjoying the moist and delicate bass in all its natural juices and flavour, and trust me a splash of lemon is all you would ever want with it. Naturally, this is officially on the menu now and I like to think that I had something to do with it ;) Speaking of tasty things make sure you have the Sticky Toffee Pudding. If you don't have room, make room. The Apple Crisp Parfait is good too but damn, that insanely delish STP pretty much outshines everything else.
Remember to get a cocktail or two when you're at Catch; all the cocktails I had that night were absolutely stellar. Thank you chef Cowan and Ian for all the excellent food and drinks, I'll be back soon for the new menu!
*This meal was complimentary. The opinions and views expressed on this post are my own*