Affordability - 7.2
Romance - 8.1
Taste - 9.2
- His Top Tips
2. Menu items are tapas style, so you’ll need to order a few dishes. I’d say between 3-4 should fill you up, if sharing between 2 people.
3. Save room for the maple-syrup-on-snow, especially if you’ve never tried it before. A delicious Canadian tradition.
I have very little doubt that Rock Lobster is on the verge of taking Canada by storm. True, it only recently opened it’s second location in Toronto a few short weeks ago. However, taking into consideration that it only opened it’s flagship on Ossington within the past year, it’s a pretty remarkable feat and goes to show just how immensely popular this spot really is.
I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect prior to visiting Rock Lobster. Jamie had been desperate to go for weeks, and as soon as the second location on Queen West was opened a mere 10 minute walk from our apartment, it was inevitable that we would try it out sooner rather than later. After glancing at the menu online and noticing that the prices were roughly between $10-$15 per dish, I decided to take Jamie out for a dinner she’d been craving and that wouldn’t simultaneously result in my going bankrupt.
One thing that caught me a bit off-guard, and that I don’t remember the online menu alluding to, was that each dish is designed in a tapas style. I’d say that you need to order about 3-4 dishes (if you’re sharing each dish between 2 people) to fill yourselves up. Jamie’s never been one to shy away from food, so we usually split dishes equally. If the person you’re sharing with doesn’t have as large of an appetite as you do, then you might be able to get away with 2-3 dishes. Of course, it all depends on what you decide to order, as certain options are more filling than others.
For all of you Torontonians out there, I know that a good chunk of you have likely seen “lobster caesar” pics showing up all over Instagram. Perhaps you thought, “What the hell place serves those?” Answer: Rock Lobster. And they are damn good. Half a lobster tail + a near perfect caesar for $12. Not the cheapest cocktail, but you do get half a lobster tail. Personally, I’d opt for ordering the lobster caesar over the Nova Scotia Lobster Tail for the same price. Dunk the lobster into the caesar and I guarantee that you’ll have a tough time drinking one with anything else after that. It’s a surprisingly good combo.
Jamie and I ordered a number of dishes, one of which was the lobster poutine. Impossible not to like. We also pigged out on the jerk shrimp, which served up around 4-6 prawns per person, drenched in a perfectly spiced jerk sauce. However, my favourite part of the meal was the surf and turf burger: a tender and juicy beef patty topped with lobster smothered in some sort of mayo-based sauce. I still think that the Jarga-style burger at Burger’s Priest is the best in the city, but this was a VERY close second. A burger topped with lobster might not sound the most appealing to everyone, but I urge you to try it. This may have been the Pierre McGuire’s TSN turning point in my burger eating career.
Going back to why I think that Rock Lobster is about to sweep Canada by storm… it’s Canadian. And I’m not just talking about the fact it was started in Canada, or that it’s head chef and owner is Canadian, I mean that this place pays homage to the great white north in a way that’s clear, but definitely not tacky. There are certain aspects of the menu and decor that would scream Canadiana to the average tourist, but there are enough subtle shout-outs to our culture to keep this place exactly what it wants to be – a local hangout and not a tourist trap. For instance, the back patio at the Queen West location is adorned with a large “CANADA” sign atop a painting of a beaver – which sounds tacky – but that painting is also adorned with the red, green, yellow, and blue stripes synonymous with The Bay. Only a true Canadian would recognize that, and as subtlety is kind of our thing, I can appreciate that.
Another example is the “Iginla Fizz” cocktail, which pays tribute to Jarome Iginla, long time (and now former) captain of the Calgary Flames who set up the golden goal at the Vancouver Olympics for the men’s Team Canada hockey team. Again, a subtle detail that being Canadian will aid in picking up on. Finally, there is the maple-syrup-on-snow dessert. Now, the average American will associate Canada with maple syrup in a heartbeat. However, this is not just any maple syrup… this is the same maple syrup on snow that I used to eat during the winter carnival, “Festival du Voyageur,” when I lived in Winnipeg as a kid. It’s also a popular tradition at the Quebec Winter Carnival. It’s an incredible dessert, it’s nostalgic for me (as well as I’m sure it is for many others), and it’s uniquely Canadian… a great touch.
Thus, Rock Lobster has accomplished something that I believe is immensely difficult, and will be the reason for their success across this nation (both with locals and tourists alike). Canada is a multicultural nation, a fact that we celebrate and use to define ourselves. That’s great and all, but when it comes to food we often find ourselves seeking out the best Italian, the best Chinese, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Mediterranean, and even the best American food that we can find. But what about Canadian food? Do we even know what that is? With menu items such as the lobster caesar, the surf and turf burger, lobster poutine, and maple-syrup-on-ice, Rock Lobster helps us answer this question while supplying us with a few suggestions on what Canadian dining should be.Her Take