Table Talk: Joanne Kates reviews The Chase Fish & Oyster

The Chase Fish & Oyster underwhelms the palate but seduces the eye.


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The Chase Fish & Oyster transports to the Hamptons; lobster rolls are an eyeful at the casual iteration of The Chase

I’m completely stumped. All these years of eating for a living and I cannot figure this one out. How come The Chase (both upstairs and downstairs) is so hot it’s sizzling? Just try getting a table. The service sucks and the food is ho-hum. We can’t even talk to them about our reservation without being driven crazy. Having booked a table, we have occasion to call twice to change it. Both times I sit on the phone for what feels like ages while they figure out my reservation. Both times after I tell them it’s for downstairs, the reservationist makes me wait a while and then asks: “Is that for upstairs or downstairs?”

So we arrive for dinner at The Chase Fish & Oyster. This is the ground floor of the splendidly refurbished Dineen building. Fish  & Oyster is the casual branch of the fancy place on the fifth floor. We booked for 6 p.m., we said we were pre-theatre, and when we get there they tell us to go have a drink at the bar ’cause our table’s not ready. That’s great. A little muscle and we get a table, but who likes starting a relationship by getting pissy?

And pissy is how we feel when they bring the apps. Autumn seafood chowder has about as much flavour as something from Mrs. Campbell — and about as much seafood in it. Oyster po’ boy sliders are equally unfortunate. The oysters in their deep-fry jacket have been overcooked.

The king crab rosti is big beautiful chunks of sweet fresh crab — wrapped in what they say is rosti, but resembles mashed potatoes. Oops. The unfortunate rosti sits on a fine little slaw of shaved Brussels sprouts with a river of pale green chive inflected sour cream. The lobster roll, surely a beach shack’s iconic entrée, has so little flavour we’re thinking to send out a search party. And yet the people are flocking, rather like lemmings.

But what a gorgeous nautical room, beach bar beautiful with colourful spinnakers hanging from the ceiling and big retro fans. It’s all very Ralph Lauren, preppy seaside pretty. I think I get it. It’s like my grade seven home ec teacher taught us: The eye eats first.

 

The Chase Fish & Oyster, 10 Temperance St., $100 Dinner for two.

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