It’s late in the night, you’re in the heart of the city, and crave a taste of the sea. Where does one go? Thinking not of Toronto’s Harbourfront, my anchor is set on D-squared. Better known as the Distillery District, just take a stroll along the copper-red brick road and find none other than Pure Spirits Oyster House & Grill.
Serving last-minute patrons ─ myself included ─ ‘raw-bar’ enthusiasts are promptly seated and informatively served with a bi-coastal listing of ocean fresh selects. Scanning the best of east and west coast shucked clusters, I tread close to common waters ─ the Atlantic ─ and decide on three regional offerings: Bluepoint, Caraquette, and Oddball. Among all that’s fine and brine-y, I’d rate the meaty New York Bluepoint as a dominant standout in comparison to the Maritime alternative ─ this time, at least!
Feeling squeamish at the thought or taste of oysters? Don’t be shell-shocked! Fortunately, the captain of this seafood house prepares a tasty trio of savoury sauces for smooth sailing of slurping good eats. Minding table-side manners ─ always ─ loosen your oyster of choice with a spoon or other provided utensil, and top off with these condiments: classic cocktail, jalapeño mango or refreshing cucumber-infused vinegar. Dynamic and all good in their own right, my ‘addition’ of choice is the pleasantly unexpected mélange of sweet heat courtesy of the spicy mango dip ─ a flavourful pairing that simply works.
The night, however, is still lively. And so, this candlelit supper is not over until it’s over ─ fully satisfied! Seafood and pasta options abound, order’s up for my table: a “fancy salad,” and “branzino and beer.” A bore ─ for some ─ I can never get tired of a healthy mix of veg. Specifically, in my bowl of “chopped salad” one would not be disappointed to find a well-intended toss up of all that goes together: pieces of grilled chicken breast combined with creamy avocado, sweet corn, chunks of feta cheese, chick peas, crunchy asparagus and capsicums, cucumber, a touch of sunflower seeds, and a gentle dousing of cilantro dressing. Given my liking for the aforementioned greens, I approve though it’s understandable if this is not the case for some. On that note, why not savour a pan-seared serving of branzino ─ p.s. it comes with a glass of beer. Uncomplicated for a fish dish, the branzino’s exterior is cooked to a crisp while maintaining a fork-tender flaky flesh, and is then bedded on top of a medley of sautéed dandelion and mushrooms. Generous in portion and flavour, either hot or cold plates won’t leave you flagging any white napkins. If anything, catches of the day are so fresh you’ll be happy to slap them ─ on a fork!
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