You Should F*cking Eat Here explores the latest in all things edible. Check back to see what’s new in Toronto food and restaurant trends.
As we all tuck in for the hibernation season, we look for options that will satisfy and warm the soul. Enter a trend that has swept Toronto over the past year: the seafood boil. The category is up for interpretation in Toronto but derived from the United States of America as a typical celebratory meal (think of clam bakes and fish fry ups on the Fourth of July). In the States, whether it’s a Louisiana boil or a New England boil can entirely dictate the type of seafood that’s on hand and served. In Toronto, we do what we want! There are a few indies and a few scions in operation, so here’s a breakdown of what’s boiling in Toronto.
But first, what is a seafood boil? It’s communal seafood eating. Some are more traditional operations with fixed options, and some involve picking your shellfish, flavoring, and spice level. Then, that seafood is boiled in a bag with the goodness that you selected. Eating a seafood boil meal is a messy endeavor and in Toronto, it’s not crude or uncommon to see plastic table cloths, bibs, and gloves to get the most out of this meal. Take chances, make mistakes and get messy!
The Boil King
333 King St. West
A gem within restaurant row! This place draws their inspiration from Louisiana and focuses on Cajun boils of crab, lobster, shrimp, and crawfish. You can also get mussels, clams, and bay scallops. Choose your spice level and also choose from three sauces: Garlic butter, Cajun sauce, and “Boil King Sauce” (a mix of the two). They also have a variety of international dishes ranging from mango salad to baked oysters to fish & chips.
The Captain’s Boil
Multiple locations across the GTA
And now we enter seafood boil empire territory! With five locations across the city and two more in the GTA, The Captain’s Boil definitely has covered its ground. AND this team also has about EIGHT locations slated within their “coming soon” section of their webpage. Choose your catch (crawfish, lobster, Dungeness crab, shrimps, king crab legs, snow crab legs, clams, mussels and chicken slices), choose your flavor (Cajun Cajun, lemon pepper, garlic sauce or Captains Boil, a mix of all three) and choose your heat. There’s also a bit of an Asian influence present, with items like fried rice and teriyaki on the menu. No reservations, but perhaps call in advance anyways. Read our review on their Little Italy location here.
The Boil Bar
664 Yonge Street
With one location in Toronto and two more on the books – in both Toronto and Waterloo – The Boil Bar is also a contender for King/Queen of the Boil. Notably, we’re intrigued by the various sauces that are on offer here (and their kitschy, nautical names) like, Hydra sauce (lemon pepper), Leviathan sauce (Louisiana Cajun), Moby Dick sauce (garlic), Ketea Indikoi sauce (curry) and The Kraken sauce (signature). We’re curious what the signature sauce entails (probably a combo of everything), and we’re also curious if anyone ever orders the Dick sauce. The menu also has some surprises like grilled sweet corn cakes and spicy ox offal.
Smoked & Cracked
516 Mount Pleasant Road
As you might have guessed, this place specializes in seafood that is either (drumroll, please) smoked or cracked. When it comes to smoked, think trout, sturgeon, salmon and even duck. When it comes to cracked, think oysters, mussels, and lobster – lots of lobster. This place only offers one boil, and it’s a lobster “with all the fixin’s”. Helmed by Michael Kash and Ron Raymer, these culinary industry vets and seafood aficionados clearly know their way around crustaceans of all kinds.
The Drake Hotel
1150 Queen Street West
This one is going to have to wait until Summer ’17! But back by popular demand for several years, The Drake Hotel has pushed out a communal “Lobster Sunday” summer dinner, which has been a jolly celebration of the East Coast seafood boil for only 35$ a person. Oodles and oodles of PEI mussels, clams, shelled shrimp, and lobster are cooked alongside corn, potatoes, and chorizo with fixin’s, too! Like buttermilk biscuits, parsley & celery salad, butter, and lemon. Bring it (and summer ’16) back!!! Oh, and happy 30th to our other favourite Drake.
Did we miss any new seafood boil restaurants? Have a suggestion for where we should f*cking eat next? Let Vv Magazine know in the comments below, or tweet us @ViewtheVibe.