When you want to impress a business client or wow your date, you go to The Chase, an elegant rooftop restaurant that’s among Toronto’s swankiest dining experiences. When you want excellent seafood in a place where you can safely loosen your tie, you head to its sister spot, The Chase Fish & Oyster. Both are in the classic Dineen building in the financial district, and both attract Toronto’s movers and shakers — but Fish & Oyster invites you to shoot the breeze, rather than strut your stuff. That makes it pretty much perfect for a casual group outing, so round up a few seafood-loving friends and set sail for a laid-back evening of fish and fun.
The atmosphere may be relaxed, but this is no generic fish-and-chip shop. Surrounded by attentive servers, Ralph Lauren textiles of blue and white, and nautical design details like boat sails tied to the ceiling, you and the guys will know you’ve walked onto one tight ship — and a classy one at that. Grab a table on the breezy patio. It’s the next best thing to lounging on the deck at sea, and the people-watching is certainly superior. Celebrate your long-overdue guys’ night out with a round of icy Canadian beers like the fruity, copper-colored Okanagan pale ale, or seafaring cocktails such as the Roll Tide (wonderfully spiced Bulleit bourbon, fig, and thyme). After the group clinks glasses, you strongly suggest that the table order a few things from the raw bar. Your group of sailors, after all, needs a captain.
You start with, of course, raw oysters on the half shell, served in a bed of crushed ice. Add a touch of tangy cocktail sauce, a splash of mignonette, or boldly douse them in the house-made hot sauce before tilting your heads back and slurping them down. They’re so fresh, it instantly puts everyone in mind of their last beach vacation, and you all start swapping briny anecdotes as you move on to other Chase favorites like the tender octopus, served with juicy pork sausage and fresh greens.
Keeping with the casual tone, the sandwiches are among the most popular items on the menu, with crispy oyster po’boy sliders and lobster rolls with apple and candied walnuts keeping your taste buds singing. And don’t forget innovative small plates like shrimp with pickled melon, crispy pickerel with corn puree, and the classic steamed mussels with garlic and white wine. The truth is, try as you might you’ll never get to all of it in just one night. Best then to make plans for another seafood-filled meetup here soon, where the good vibes and delicious morsels roll in like waves against a beach.