Ever since brunch favourite Mitzi’s on College closed late February, Little Portugal residents have been crossing their fingers for a worthy replacement. Enter chef David Friedman and sommelier Jamie Duran, who recently left their gigs at Fishbar to open Red Fish, a new seafood restaurant, earlier this month.
The decor is a bit of a step up from the old diner: white table clothes, dim lighting, cream and crimson walls with dark brown wainscoting. The result is an intimate, cottagey feel. Hanging from the ceiling and walls are nautical-themed lights and art from A. Shay Hahn, a friend of the owners. The patio has been transformed with new flowerboxes, tables and umbrellas, making for a much more inviting space. They’ve also engaged Jake Summers to paint an oversized mural on the west wall.
Friedman, who trained in Vancouver, notes the void of good seafood restaurants in Toronto. Those that have established themselves almost exclusively look to the East Coast for inspiration, whereas Friedman turns to the West. Rather than being restricted to smaller dishes as at FishBar (which nevertheless remain on the menu for patio diners), the focus will be on the traditional three-course-style dining experience. “The fish should be the star of the plate,” says Friedman. “Whether raw, pickled or cured, the main flavour should be fish.”
The menu is locally driven, and Friedman has partnered with Ocean Wise for guidance on using sustainable fish. The seafood charcuterie plate has the Seussian name “the Chef’s Bored” and comes in a small ($18) or large ($35) size. For appetizers, there’s a pan-fried B.C. herring with chermoula and roasted eggplant ($11), beet salad with mache and goat’s milk dressing and figs ($9) and octopus ssam with chili-miso dressing, pickled vegetables and black sesame ($12). Mains include beef cheek tortellini with crab consommé and maitake mushroom ($23) and arctic char with apple and horseradish gnocchi, bacon and chanterelles ($25). And for dessert, at least while summer lasts, there’s a house-made ice cream trio with ginger, plum and green tea flavours. Coming soon: an in-house smoker and an all-important seafood brunch, which will surely be a consolation to Mitzi’s old fans.
Red Fish, 890 College St., 416-733-3474, redfishresto.com, @redfishresto