Last Tuesday was one of my planned adventure days for the month which meant healthy eating went right out the window. I had a fairly light breakfast and lunch but once I headed downtown with my mom and my best friend to catch Mirvish’s production of Strictly Ballroom at the Princess of Wales Theatre, all thoughts about keeping my calorie count low went out the window.
Whenever we go downtown for dinner there is a constant struggle about where to eat. I have my favourites like Elephant & Castle, Paramount, and Blaze Pizza but there are so many different restaurants in Toronto that I always want to try something new. It’s a little intimidating pulling up lists of food in any area but I’ve always found it especially difficult to find an affordable delicious meal in the theatre district. The restaurants by the theatre all look intriguing but at $25-35 a plate it makes for a pricey night out.
With the hope to find an affordable and scrumptious dinner location we took ourselves up and over a couple streets to Queen Street. Queen Street, especially the portion past Spadina is a neighbourhood I’ve just begun exploring this year and it’s been a lot of fun to check out. There are tons of different unique shops and restaurants to check out. We picked three different places at first and then narrowed it down to Fresh Off The Boat, an asian inspired seafood joint.
The front of the restaurant, like many near the Kensington Market neighbourhood, is quite small. There are a couple hightop seats along a counter on the wall and then two long tables with bench / booth seating. Despite being so small, the restaurant has a lot of charm. I think I’ve mentioned this before but I love a good nautical aesthetic and this place really pulls it off. The turquoise accents really stick out around the hard wood features and the seafaring decorations. The most impressive piece is the light fixture made of sailing rope and tesla bulbs. It really made the little fish joint feel special.
Although I took another look at the menu once we got there, I sort of already had my meal in mind when I saw the very unique soft-shell crab sandwich on their website. The full crab is deep-fried so the visual effect is quite unique, even a little jarring at first. We joked about how I had a small sea monster as a meal but once I took the first bite I was happy I went with the slightly whacky looking choice. The crab was juicy (maybe a bit too juicy as we kept getting attacked by bursts of crab juice) and it was delicious. The broccoli slaw and the fresh fries that came with the sandwich tied the meal together and left me completely full with half the box still sitting there.
Mom ordered the lobster roll which wasn’t quite as filling but was on par with Buster’s Sea Cove at the St. Lawrence Market which is my favourite place to go for seafood in the city. Nothing beats a lobster dinner with my family on Prince Edward Island but this would be another good substitute to hold me over until the next visit.
Finally, I didn’t snap a picture of Keeragh’s sandwich which was called The FOB and is the restaurant’s speciality but I did try a piece of the catfish and it was awesome. The FOB is their twist on asian poboy banh mi and was covered in a fair amount of burned aioli, piled into a fresh bun. Like my meal, there was plenty to the dish and a fair share of fries sitting underneath it so there was no worry about going hungry.
I love seafood and I love finding good seafood that actually has flavour to it. I can’t tell you how many tasteless bites of lobster or scallops I’ve had over the years but I can remember all the good ones I’ve tried because they leave a lasting impression. Fresh Off The Boat has definitely joined this list and as far as repeat meals go, I wouldn’t mind trying it again.
Although we’d had our fair share of fried foods and our tummies were no doubt full, we decided a little treat before the show was in order. For dessert we crossed the street and wandered west a little further to Butter Avenue, a delicate little patisserie that mom and I had walked past on my first post of Mother Daughter Adventures which you can read here. The store is quite large (length-wise at least) for a shop in that area and all the white makes the colourful little cakes and macaroons really stand out.
Since we had just stuffed our faces we decided to go light on dessert options and skipped the delicate and beautiful cakes for something smaller. Mom ordered a marshmallow cookie which ended up being an upscale viva puff with a Turkish delight-like centre. Keeragh and I each got a single macaron to go; she ordered lemon poppyseed and I grabbed an orange chocolate.
The little desserts were just enough to satisfy my sweet tooth without pushing me into that uncomfortable zone of full. Butter Avenue is a little pricey which seems to be a trend amongst places that sell macarons. Still, it was a nice little treat and I wouldn’t hesitate going there again. You pay a lot for a little but in a way I really didn’t need anything bigger.
So that was our little adventure to Queen Street last week. Afterwards we walked around for a little bit to kill some time and to settle our stomachs. Strictly Ballroom was a lot of fun, though I’m not sure Keeragh is going to ever forgive them for the lacklustre Paso Doble that they did in the finale. As for me, I really didn’t know any different.