Chef Geoff Hopgood’s namesake east-coast restaurant Hopgood’s Foodliner (325 Roncesvalles Ave., at Grenadier) is backin’ it up the rear with a little Oyster Shack behind the main dining room.
The main feature of this shack (technically, a separate back room, like Farmhouse Tavern’s Hunt Camp) is a communal table for 12 with a metal trough down the middle to be filled with ice and oysters. At the end of the table is a place for the cook to shuck oysters and prepare raw or chilled seafood dishes for guests, an idea Hopgood got while visiting the Swan Oyster Depot in San Francisco. The room will primarily be used for private seafood soirees (the best kind of soirees) but starting on Feb. 15, it’ll be open to diners every Thursday and Friday night as they wait for their table in the restaurant.
“It’s like an overflow spot that’s an extension of our restaurant, but we don’t want to make it into a waiting room,” he says. “They would have to spend a minimum of $25 in there, but they automatically get a glass of wine or beer and six oysters.”
The Oyster Shack has a separate menu from the restaurant, with a mainly raw/chilled menu such as shucked oysters, raw littleneck clams, shrimp cocktails, crab and lobster, and, if there’s enough interest, sea urchins, live scallops, and Dungeness crab (depending on what Neptune, god of the sea, decides to bless the suppliers with).
“It’s a competitive city right now and you get caught up with people opening a new spot within a year of their first [restaurant],” says Hopgood, whose restaurant just turned one this past Saturday. “This is a way for us to expand and do something that we love to do, but within our own space.”—Karon Liu
Photo: Rene Johnston/Toronto Star