When a new restaurant appears to have taken over another in your neighbourhood you suspect new everything; owners, decor, food and ambience. However when a new restaurant of similar style opens you question how new is it really? As is the case with The Pearl Diver on Adelaide East, a revamped version of owner Patrick McMurray’s Starfish. With some sweeping changes across the menu, style and interior space take the former fine dining oyster bar into a wider audience friendly local with craft beer and delicious eats.
Let’s not talk about what it was. Instead let’s focus on what you can enjoy now. Light on the nautical, The Pearl Diver provides a relaxed space with church pew seating, bar rail stools and a back of the house dining space suitable for large groups that slightly resembles a fishwife’s kitchen but without the bait and tackle.
Under the helm of Chefs Milosz “Tom” Malycha and Martin Zechel, land and seas lovers can easy dine together through a menu full of underwater fare and landlocked dishes. Appetizers range from grilled Argentine shrimp on apples, fennel and Nordic greens ($14), crispy fried calamari ($9) perfectly cooked that the dipping sauce is truly an afterthought to salads topped with massive fried rounds of goat cheese and hazelnut dressing($13). The Chowder($8/$14) is seasonally themed with a light tomato base being this summer’s feature.
Pescetarians can choose from entrees like fresh Mussels and Frites ($18) in a coconut, ginger broth or any number of whole fish dishes including tandoori spiced salmon($28) and pan-seared pickerel ($28) while their carnivore friends can feast on honey garlic ribs($28), or a thick juicy steak ($28/$39).
If there is still room for more sweet-toothers can pick one or more desserts from an incredibly ambitious dessert menu, curated and executed by local culinary students. Sticky toffee pudding, cheesecake, and panna cotta only just tip the iceberg of choice.
For those who enjoy a cocktail or two be confident in quality with bartender Kevin Brauch stirring things up. Well known as The Thirsty Traveller and from Iron Chef America, Brauch is forever experimenting with ice size, flavour combinations and garnish to make sure you get the best drink around. And all with entertaining witty banter.
As with any oyster bar the star of the show is front and center at the raw bar. Shuckers work none stop to provide the fresh displays of seafood that the restaurant has in hot demand thanks to specials like Zinc and Drink, a promotion with Wellington’s Brewery where a dozen featured oysters and a pint is only $20, or the towering Seafood Circus offered on Tuesday nights. And those with a competitive side should try out 100 (oysters) for $100 on Thursday nights, an event so popular a chalkboard post keeps track of local team successes.
With a kitchen highly educated in what it does best, an entertaining bartender, attentive staff and casual decor, The Pearl Diver has created a restaurant that welcomes back it’s Starfish crowd with gentle changes while opening up the doors to hip and adventurous newcomers.
The Pearl Diver
100 Adelaide St E, Toronto,