First Look: Smoked and Cracked, a new seafood spot on Mount Pleasant


A cream-based lobster chowder, $11.95 (Image: Cheol Joon Baek)

It only took three pints of Guinness for Michael Kash and Ron Raymer to decide they wanted to go into business together. The two went out for drinks after a catering gig, and three beers in, Kash posed the question, “What do you think about lobsters?” The rest is history. Smoked and Cracked, their new lobster restaurant on Mount Pleasant, officially opened in early July.

Kash and Raymer are first-time restaurant owners, but they are no strangers to the business. They first met at a catering gig many moons ago, and they each have their own substantial resumes. Raymer, who has been in the business for over 30 years, cites a lengthy list of chefs he’s worked under and learned from, including Jean-Marie Lacroix from Church Restaurant in Stratford, the late William “Ben” Merritt from the Benmiller Inn in Goderich and veteran Toronto chef Dinah Koo.

Kash, meanwhile, has worked with chefs Michael Potters, Eric Madden and Claudio Aprile, but it was during his eight year stint at Rodney’s Oyster House that his love of seafood emerged. He also lived in New York for 10 years and worked at restaurants there, where he learned that good service doesn’t have to be snooty.

Smoked and Cracked has an open kitchen, and it’s decorated in a cozy, low-key style, with tables from Kash’s own house, along with other furniture and decor items donated by family, friends and even customers. The renos were done by Kash and Raymer themselves.

On the food front, Smoked and Cracked’s menu is expectedly lobster-heavy. The lobster boil (market price) comes with drawn butter, lemon, tarragon, corn on the cob and other fixings. There are two lobster rolls: a cold East Coast-style one ($13.25) and a hot Newport-style one ($15.25). When we were there, a tomato-based Manhattan seafood chowder ($11.95) was filled with shrimp, lobster and three types of clams. And for dessert, there are deep dish butter tarts ($5) and Augie’s Ice Pops ($3).

Smoked and Cracked also has its own house-blend of coffee called 2nd Crack, and it also offers homemade iced tea and lemonade.

In the future, Raymer and Kash hope to open other locations, possibly in the Financial District and elsewhere.

Smoked and Cracked, 516 Mount Pleasant Rd., 647-748-5722

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