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Hooked

Posted by Robyn Urback / Posted on March 26, 2011

Hooked TorontoHooked has brought accessible, sustainable fish to Toronto. You'll find it on Queen Street East, just west of Logan Avenue where colourful fish cutouts dangle in the big window by the wooden door. The interior is simple; lots of light, wood floors, shelves of condiments, and a cooler of fresh seafood, arranged by origin from west to east.

Chef and owner Dan Donovan walks me through what's in store today, noting that the chinook ($19/lb) was troll caught, the scallops ($22/lb) were diver caught, and the pickerel ($16/lb) had been live-trapped.

Hooked Toronto"I can tell you exactly where everything came from, how it was caught, what boats were used, and which fishermen were on board. It's important to know all of those details if you want to make sure what you're getting is sustainable."

Donovan opened Hooked with his wife, Kristin, for one simple reason: "We wanted good fish, and it was not easy to get."

Hooked TorontoSpeaking as a cook, he tells me that a lot of chefs work directly with fishermen to source their seafood. "I thought it was time the public had access to it as well. When you shop for fish at a supermarket, information on how it was caught is not usually accessible."

Hooked TorontoHe says he and Kristin opened the shop coming from the perspective of two chefs. "We're not selling fish, we're selling dinner." So, appropriately, Hooked sells extras, such as clarified butter ($1.50), fish stock ($9), and lots of olive oils and sauces. "Fish has always been my favourite," he says. "It just lends itself to so many styles of cooking."

Hooked TorontoSince my way of cooking fish is pretty much of just one tried-and-true tinfoil pouch method, Donovan sent me and my sablefish portion ($23/lb) home with some advice:

"Pan sear it in the clarified butter for seven minutes, skin down. Then flip it over and just kiss it--one minute max."

"We eat fish raw," he added. "Don't worry, you can't undercook it."

Hooked TorontoIt turned out very well (though I think I still managed to overcook it slightly). The fish was quite mild, which I appreciate, and very fresh, flakey, and delicious.

Hooked TorontoPerhaps for the chronic "I'll just give it one more minute" cooks such as myself, Hooked will be offering classes starting mid-April. Though an exact schedule hasn't yet been prepared, Donovan says the classes, which will run both as series and one-night events, will incorporate aspects like preparation, tasting, and wine pairing. Both Dan and Kristin will provide instruction, as well as recruit local chefs for certain classes. Rumour has it Neil Baxtor from Rundles Restaurant in Stratford is already on the roster.

Hooked TorontoHooked TorontoPhotos by Dennis Marciniak

Discussion

16 Comments

JenC / March 26, 2011 at 10:11 pm
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Great write up. I love Hooked, it's such a great addition to the neighbourhood. Dan, Kristin and all their staff are so knowledgeable and friendly. Prices are reasonable as well. Today, bought a whole lobster, 6 pieces of perch, 2 scallops and a filet of halibut, clarified butter and dredging mixture for $33.
Bill / March 27, 2011 at 09:58 am
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Re. your headline question: I know I would.
Good luck, guys. the place looks great.
pat / March 27, 2011 at 11:52 am
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Love their food. Great flavours and great provenance.
As they say, much better to undercook than overcook!
Aldrin / March 27, 2011 at 12:20 pm
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Great review. I wish we had more places like this.
HUK / March 27, 2011 at 08:27 pm
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Jamie Kennedy must be shitting his pants by now.
Guy / March 28, 2011 at 10:03 am
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Wow, this place opened up right along my summer route home from work. Looking forward to checking it out!
MrPalmer / March 28, 2011 at 12:28 pm
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Anyone see the prices? OK, great, you know where it comes from, it's sustainable wonderful, but it's massively overpriced.
brycycle / March 28, 2011 at 11:11 pm
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@MrPalmer
you.get.what.you.pay.for.

tried the salmon last night - one of the best pieces of fish i have ever had.
jennie / March 29, 2011 at 12:20 am
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I have not been there and I have not seen the prices. But, really, if you cannot afford fish that is not ruining the world, maybe stick to veggies.
Peanut Gallery replying to a comment from MrPalmer / March 30, 2011 at 05:16 am
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I agree @MrPalmer - I prefer Ned's Discount Fishmart, it's mostly rotten but dirt cheap. Or I drive out to Maine and catch cod myself. Who has enough money to waste on fresh fish--the pope?!?!
Larry / April 2, 2011 at 09:42 am
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Great store. Bought some excellent Walleye last week. It'll be a regular stop for us.
Neil / April 23, 2011 at 03:40 pm
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Outstanding place. Great selection, amazing quality and owner Dan Donovan clearly knows his stuff and is more than happy to help customers pick out - and learn about - great fish and seafood. We bought some line-caught B.C. halibut recently that was probably the best tasting fish we've ever cooked.
Peter Visima / October 19, 2012 at 05:22 pm
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Congrats to my friends Dan and Kristin. Without a doubt they are the best fishmongers in Toronto. Their fish is worth every penny MrPalmer—to each their own. Being chefs, they are always helpful in providing you with instructions on how to cook their products. Welcome to Kensington!
Armin von Kink / February 4, 2013 at 09:27 am
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Dan Donovan!-so thats your name you dumb poser!...yes-you deserve this title for ignoring me and my wife on a busy day to serve one of your regular customers that you knew by name...TWICE!...guess what?-I found out Im not the only one that says this but Ill be the one that will expose you for the butt sucker you are every chance i get!
S.L / August 21, 2013 at 04:21 pm
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I went here for the first time on my way home from work. First class fish, pricey maybe, but I am willing to pay a little extra for supporting their superbly fresh sustainable products. Excellent Service service to boot! From now on I will be making them my regulars!
jimmy2times / September 9, 2013 at 05:11 am
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it is possible to under cook fish.. like halibut... salmon should be cooked medium, an overcooked salmon steak is the same as an overdone pork chop..only 'enjoyed' when ur g-ma cooked it

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