Perennially popular Dundas West restaurant gets a new, seafood-focussed neighbour: Raw Bar.
After weeks of rumours swirling around the local blogosphere, Jen Agg did in fact quietly open her third establishment for dinner last night right beside The Black Hoof. Still, the place was quickly packed with diners as the night went on.
Raw Bar (926 Dundas St. W.), a seafood-focused restaurant, previously served as extra storage space for the Hoof and, before that, it was an old photography studio.
“I’ve always wanted to do something that complemented the Hoof, but the idea for this formed around August or September of last year,” says Agg. “There was nothing here. Just carpet, three little rooms, no plumbing, nothing.”
And so Agg, along with her husband, began major construction work in January while she was still running the adjacent restaurant and Cocktail Bar across the street. The layout is a perfect mirror image of the Hoof: long bar, about 30 seats, and a cubicle-sized kitchen led by chef Jonathan Pong, who made the great migration from the Hoof next door. (He worked at C5 before that.)
“He’s very detailed oriented and it was obvious that he was ready to run a kitchen,” says Agg. “He worked at the Hoof for a while and we offered him this opportunity, which he happily took. He loves cooking seafood and fish, and it was just a wonderful turn of events.”
The initial menu includes a cured fish board ($22) similar to the Hoof’s charcuterie and salami board; a plate of fish snacks containing fried smelts, prawn heads and bait fish ($9); clam chowder ($11); kingfish with caramelized plantains ($18); oysters both raw and baked; smoked shrimp cocktail ($15); squid salad ($13); and chawanmushi ($11), a distinctive Japanese dish of steamed custard with salmon roe and kale. And since it wouldn’t be an Agg establishment without cocktails, Raw Bar has four takes on the Caesar including a guajillo tequila version as well as an Asian take with shochu and gochuchang (Korean red pepper paste), and for nostalgia buffs, the Hoof Cafe Caesar made with marmite and pink peppercorn vodka.
Raw Bar is open Tuesday to Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to midnight. And, no, they don’t take reservations.