The Shore Club is not one of them. Located near the Theatre District, The Shore Club is buzzy and alive during the Toronto International Film Festival, Luminato, and Toronto Fashion Week. After singing at David Pecaut Square, Rufus Wainwright hosted his afterparty at The Shore Club.
But sans-festival fanfare, the restaurant settles down and focuses on serving premium “seafood, steak, and cocktails” for its patrons. It’s also one of the high-end restaurants participating in Winterlicious 2014, the popular winter culinary celebration that profiles the finest flavours in the city.
“We respect local and fresh ingredients,” says Executive Chef Saku Velummylum. “When developing features and specials, my first goal is to match the feature with seasonal ingredients.”Depending on your appetite, “The Club” has seating in the cocktail lounge or formal dining room. Either way, the decor invites patrons to sup in cozy elegance, surrounded by Canadian artwork, floating light fixtures, and snug booths.
“The Old Fashion Manhattan is the perfect drink to enjoy in our beautiful lounge,” says Chef Saku.
The Food Journey Begins
It feels slightly overwhelming with 17 delectable appetizers on the menu. Somehow, choices are made and the first course begins.
A heap of calamari ($14) arrives along with a side of cucumber yoghurt dip. The squid is tender and crisp, ever so lightly breaded with a drizzle of lemon and herbs. It’s not rubbery at all, and an ideal starter to kick off the meal.
Battered seems to be the theme of the night. There’s just no resisting the vanilla battered prawns ($15) paired with sweet and spicy sauce. The Chef gets creative with this dish: jumbo shrimp soak in vanilla extract, and then are deep fried until golden brown. Prepare to inhale an intensely sweet aroma and bite into meaty shrimp that taste like deep-fried birthday cake. It’s love at first bite.
The chopped garden salad ($9) counteracts the overture of fried foods. It’s presented as a glorious green mound of shredded lettuce, kale, chick peas, turnips, tomatoes topped with red wine vinaigrette.
Plenty of Fish in the Sea
I can’t decide between the entrees either. Although the Shore Club specializes in serving Canadian prime beef and fresh fish, Chef Saku also lauds the Buttermilk Fried Chicken.
“It’s not your typical fried chicken,” he says. “Crunchy on the outside and super tender on the inside, it just melts in your mouth. It’s definitely one of our guests’ favourites too.”
Dining etiquette is thrown to the wind as a parade of entrees follow.
The pan fried rainbow trout ($29) is a meal by itself – stuffed with Dungeness crab and shrimp, the fish is light, flaky, and a little sweet. The sweetness mingles well with the saltiness of the crab meat.
The fresh halibut ($31) is baked with macadamia nuts as an outer crust and bathed in a French white wine and butter sauce for flavour. The taste certainly rivals the trout, but I can’t play favourites with my fish.
As a side dish, the scallops ($34) are small but mighty. Each meaty scallop is sautéed in herb butter and a Pernod liqueur that leaves a hint of black licorice on the tongue. It’s perhaps the most decadent dish of the evening.
Ending with a Bang, Not a Whimper
A very grown up dinner concludes with a childhood fave: the banana split ($10) with whipped cream, caramel, and a cherry on top. It’s a messy, fun dessert that’s too often absent from the restaurant menus in adulthood.
The Shore Club impresses with its impeccable food, service, and atmosphere. Patrons should expect steep prices, but the dishes deliver in taste. “The Club” is an ideal restaurant for a business meeting or a date that matters. The location makes this a top choice for a night of dinner and theatre. The restaurant has a semi-private area for parties of 8 to 30 people.
Check out the Winterlicious menu, starting on January 31 until February 13.
The Shore Club
155 Wellington Street West
Phone: (416) 351-3311
Lunch: Monday to Friday, 11:30am – 2:30pm
Dinner: Monday to Saturday, 5:00pm – 11:00pm
Bar: Monday to Friday, 11:30am – 12:00am & Saturday, 5:00 pm – 12:00am