Recently there’s been a slew of Toronto Underground Market vendors graduating to permanent operations. First La Carnita opened on College, then Fidel Gastro’s launched a food truck, and now Rock Lobster Food Co., whose first TUM appearance was only nine months ago, has opened up shop on Ossington. Co-owner and chef Matt Dean Pettit partnered with Darryl Fine (Bovine Sex Club, Shanghai Cowgirl) and Alan Thomson (Sotto Voce) to open the restaurant, which features a lobster-centric menu of comfort seafood sold at pop-up-friendly prices.
Pettit designed the 72-seat room, warming up the former Watusi space with a mural painted by his father, a trio of large Canadiana paintings by Mike Spazz and an array of repurposed wooden crates on the back wall. Bare light bulbs hang from a vintage oar above the bar, which is made from repurposed bowling alley boards, and off to the side is a semi-private dining space called the Anchor Room, which fits 10 or so people around a walnut harvest table.
Fans of the pop-up will be happy to note that most menu items stay within the $15 range (Pettit works directly with a wholesale company from Nova Scotia, which keeps the prices low). The dishes include Pettit’s popular lobster roll ($14), of course, but also whimsical items like lobster “cappuccino” (bisque with crème fraîche, $6), lobster poutine ($13) and lobster mac-and-cheese ($14). There’s also a traditional lobster dinner that comes with all the fixings and dessert ($39; Sundays until Christmas, $25). Non-lobster options include jerk crab and shrimp ($13), changing selections at the raw bar ($2.25–$10) and flank steak with a fried duck egg ($14). Josh Lindley (Campagnolo, GwaiLo pop-up) is responsible for the drinks list, which includes the Rock Lobster caesar ($12), garnished with a half lobster tail, draught beers ($6.50–$8) like Guinness and Molson stock ale, and Vineland Estate wine on tap ($1 per ounce).