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The exquisite perfection of unencumbered seafood takes top billing at this love letter to lobster on the Ossington strip. Here, the superstar crustacean gets play in a range of dishes, from peel-and-eat starters through poutine and mac-and-cheese innovation. There are also much-ballyhooed lobster beverages here, like lobster cappuccino and the famous Rock Lobster Caesar (remove the lobster tail adornment from the latter before drinking). Together, the offerings comprise a worthy gastronomic celebration of this popular sea dweller. Other seafood tasties here include raw oysters and a popular jerk crab. The atmosphere is laid back and trendy; the service is prompt and friendly.
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Review: Sea for yourself

By Alan A. Vernon, reviewed on February 27, 2013
If ever there was a local seafood resto truly reminiscent of the East coast, claws down, it's Rock Lobster. And yes, it's another terribly hip haunt that every self-respecting foodie must flock to pronto.

But it's not just because their seafood is impossibly...
If ever there was a local seafood resto truly reminiscent of the East coast, claws down, it's Rock Lobster. And yes, it's another terribly hip haunt that every self-respecting foodie must flock to pronto.

But it's not just because their seafood is impossibly fresh and tastes as if it was just hauled from the sea and plopped on the plate (it is and it does), it's also because chef/owner Matt Dean Pettit, along with Darryl Fine (a long-time family friend of mine who also happens to own the Bovine Sex Club and Shanghai Cowgirl) have debunked the persistent myth that lobster is an expensive luxury item only to be enjoyed on special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and bar mitzvahs (wait, scratch that). According to them, nothing could be further from the truth and they've proved that, first with their long-lined pop-ups, and now with the opening of Rock Lobster, home of their famous mini lobster roll, which is making quite the splash on the dining-out circuit.

They may have managed to kick their urban street food up a notch, but it's still no less accessible to the hipster masses. One of the best items on the menu is the Rock Lobster Caesar ($12). And we ain't talkin' no gloopy over-dressed salad here; choose to stir this classic clamato juice cocktail in a mug with a crisp piece of celery stalk or a full frigin lobster tail.

The menu is small but the focus is on crustacean every which way, as it should be: lobster poutine ($13), lobster mac 'n cheese ($14), lobsicle, lobster tacos, lobster ice cream (kidding!) and a seafood tower ($39/$99). But of course there are also fresh oysters (two daily choices/$2.25 each) served with a zesty cocktail sauce that'll have you licking the ramekin like the ill-mannered boor you probably are. And though it's a bit of a First World pain to have to peel your own shrimp (6 for $12/12 for $22)--it can take days for the fishy smell to leave your fingers--they've been laser cut and cleaned down the back making the shell easier to remove. And because they are deveined you can rejoice in the fact there's nary a trace of shrimp poo. So, yay!

A lobster cappuccino ($6) topped with creme fraiche looks exactly as you would imagine, a frothy foam atop a fresh seafood bisque. But make sure to sip it like an effete coffee snob for the full effect. Using a spoon adds a metallic aftertaste, so don't. A surf and turf steak tartare ($12), a blend of raw beef and butter poached lobster and pickle, is accompanied by extremely addictive home made Yukon Gold potato chips. This dish hits the top of the perfection meter.

But it's the lobster roll ($14), the inspiration for opening Rock Lobster in the first place, that drowns out any of its so-called competitors. Sweet chunks of lobster meat are delicately tossed with mayo before being packed into a kind of hot dog bun the likes of which I haven't seen since a family trip to Coney Island as a child. Rarely, if ever, do you see only the crust on top with white sides toasted like two perfect pieces of backyard-style Wonderbread. So simple, yet so sophisticated.

And even if the whole lobster supper ($39) is fantastic fun with all the implements, again it is a lot of work. The whole one and a half lb. lobster itself is fantastic and with a little help from the kitchen it's actually enjoyable to tear the little guy apart like a crazed savage and dig into the sweet meat. And you won't need the side of butter, ya big cow. Unfortunately, the sides of creamed spinach and mashed potatoes, both great ideas in theory, are over processed to a mushy consistency. But the whale tail ($2.50) is as authentic as those found at the bottom of a Quebec resort ski hill. This take on the classic beaver tail, really just a flattened cruller, is topped with cinnamon and maple sugars, and a drizzle of crème anglais. One bite alone can permanently sabotage a week's worth of Weight Watcher's saintliness. I should know. But boy is it worth it.

Rock Lobster delivers on all fronts. Affordable fresh seafood in a hip atmosphere accented with a seashore motif. And it's also refreshing to know that Rock Lobster supports Canadian independent fishermen from both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. That's reason enough to give it a go.
Reviews are meant to describe a dining out experience at a given period in time and are the personal opinion of the writer.
All meals are paid for, including all taxes and gratuities. All reservations are made under assumed names. Menu items, prices and individuals mentioned in this review may not be up to date. Dine.TO encourages its users to share their feedback.

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