John & Sons Oyster House
Address: 1 Balmoral Ave. Toronto, ON
Phone: (416) 515 – 0551
John & Sons Oyster House has two locations, in Downtown Toronto or Midtown Toronto. The one I visited was in midtown because it was easily accessible on a Friday evening after work. Just go south on Yonge Street and right pass St. Clair Avenue, there is a Green P Parking garage. The restaurant is across the street from the garage, on the west side. With the location right on the Yonge Street intersection, public transportation is just right outside the restaurant.
The owners have picked a great location, as it is an upscale neighbourhood. It is a bonus that the restaurant is the only one that focuses mainly on seafood in the area, despite having the common salads, steaks and burgers on the menu for those who are not fond of seafood.
The spirit of maritime life is brought to Toronto through the decor and design of the restaurant. Wood or boards or vinyl were the main material used to give a homey simple sensation. Meanwhile, a lot of lighthouse figurines and buoys or boat equipment were used as decor, possibly to recognize the life of a fisherman. I liked how the restaurant appeared down to earth.
Appetizers were mainly ordered, for more variety. I thank our server for recommending items on the menu and choosing our selection of oysters as we are clueless to the breeds out there. He was helpful and friendly, following up on our meal etc. Service was speedy, food came 10-15minutes. I just wish the dining table was bigger.
Ceviche ($16) was made with market fish and seasoned with thai spices. The fish was poached, preserving the natural moisture and texture of the fish. TINY PORTIONS! Felt like there was only 1 tablespoon of fish. Also, there was not much surprise to the appetizer. Flavour was bland and i think the lettuce washed out some of the spices too. The only thing I enjoyed was the thinly sliced lotus root chips.
Trio of Tuna Tartare ($18) Jalapeño and ginger (bottom), shitake mushroom (middle) and spicy red chili (top), all paired with a miso vinaigrette. I must compliment the chef’s amazing knife skills, for dicing the ingredients to small pieces, looks intricate. The spicy red chili tasted somewhat like salsa, a sweet and tangy flavour. The shitake mushroom was starting to taste a little bit more saltier. While, jalapeno and ginger was spicy, it was our favourite of the three choices because it was a good mixture of the past two. This appetizer had a lot of depth, in terms of flavour and different levels of enjoyment to it. My complaint is there is really too little tuna that I can justify the mixture of sauces with it or how the sauces can compliment the tuna.
Raw Oysters ($2 – $4 each, depends on harvest location), plate of 12, 6 different types of oysters. Kumamoto of California, Kusshi of Brittish Columbia, Shigoku of Washington, Fanny Bay of Brittish Columbia, Malpeque of Prince Edward Island, and massechusettes oyster if I remember correctly. Our server picked the selection for us. These oysters were amazingly fresh. I would love to have more! It is amusing how different regions or locations produce different flavours, sizes and appearance of oysters. The ocean water allowed the oysters to have a natural salty taste. Different enviornments allowed some oysters to have more meat and larger size, along with a sweet and creamy taste to it. Was there one that we particularly liked more?! Nope, it was more like an experience, enjoyment and gratefulness to have tried it.
These are the different sauces you can use on the oysters, ranging from mild sweetness on the left and progresses into spicy, tangy and zesty towards the right. The sauces were not heavy in flavour, hence the natural ocean salty taste of the oysters was maintained. The sauces felt like a compliment to the oysters, making it more interesting and rich.
Yellow Thai Curry Mussels ($16) steamed in a Thai curry and topped with onion frites. This is by far my favourite dish of the evening. Not only was there a lot of mussels served, it was extremely fresh. The mussels were juicy and with the Thai curry sauce, it brought out the fresh sweet taste of the mussels. They were simmered to perfect texture.
We do not have to go to the Maritimes or the West coast to have fresh oysters or seafood. It can be experienced in Toronto too! Ofcourse, the selection is not as wide in Central Canada, but it definately was worthit.