Then, we heard our food-expert friend James had been and that he'd loved it so we decided to give it another go. About a week ago, Nate and I popped in on our anniversary for the oysters I was craving. We had no reservation and the place was full, but they fit us in at the bar, which was fine (though we had to sit on those tall seats again).
Bottom line: Daaaaamn were those oysters good.
I wrote about Biff's not too long ago, just because of their relatively cheap bivalve offerings. (They have buck a shuck!) But on this particular trip to Catch, Nate and I resolved to splash out a little and accept the $3/each price that you see at most oyster places. (At Catch, you can get a half dozen slippery wonders for $18 or a doz for $36.). We were not disappointed. First of all, compared to almost all the oysters I've ever had, the ones we had at Catch were huge. Big mouthfuls. Almost too big.
We had a selection of three different kinds - some from Nova Scotia, some from Massachusetts and some from Washington state. All were very fresh. The Washington ones were less to my taste, being a little too... I dunno, meaty? I'm not sure. I still liked them, but they were my least favourite of the three options. With toppings like vinegar, salsa and horseradish etc., they were fine. The Massachusetts ones were lovely -- large and fresh tasting and the most salty of the bunch. The Nova Scotia ones were my overall favourite -- huge, not overly salty, and also a little sweet. Overall, the platter was excellent, and because the oysters were so big, I didn't mind the price tag. (Had the teeny little oysters we had at Biff's been $3 a piece, for example, I would have been pissed.)
Anyway, besides oysters, we also had four raw clams on the half shell ($2.50 each) which was probably a mistake. They were a sandy and it turns out neither of us is very keen on raw clam. Maybe baked, they would have been better. They felt thick/rubbery and crunchy (because of the sand) to me, and they were a bit fishy tasting, but I really think that's a personal thing rather than a fault of the restaurant. It was an experiment.
We had an appetizer of Haddock Croquettes with a Harissa Aioli for $9, which was good. Basically they were haddock balls, falafel-sized, on a little plate with the mayo-like aioli and some arugula. Decent size for the price. (Nate, who has a huge appetite, especially liked this.)
Finally, we had two signature drinks - Ceasars - which were $13 each (a little pricey) but they were also REALLY good. Each came with a freshly pickled olive, a round pickled onion, and a large smoked mussel on a skewer. I have to say, that smoked mussel was shockingly good. It might even be the best smoked mussel I've ever had. For real. It had a light bacony taste, and it wasn't at all oily (like many smoked mussels). That mussel was amazing.
So, what else can I say? Catch has sort of won me over, at least for the oysters. It's basically the only seafood option for miles around, though, so I don't have another local joint to compare it to. It's expensive, but as a once-in-awhile sort of thing, worth it, I think.
744 St. Clair W.
Toronto, ON M6C 1B3