The Commodore is a 35-seat restaurant in Parkdale helmed by chef Jon Vettraino (formerly of F'amelia and 416 Snack Bar ). It's an intimate restaurant with a seafood-centric menu and a bar program highlighting cocktails and Ontario craft beers.
First impressions through the door are good. The quirky interior design from Marx Kruis (Kruisbuilt) is lovely and unique, featuring a mashup of nautical elements applied with Gaudi's whimsical sensibility.
The lights over the bar were salvaged from Captain John's , the walls are curvaceous, the place settings mismatched. This is a wonderful room to dine/drink in.
The menu bills oysters and seafood towers best enjoyed with cocktails like the Lolita ($14), a frothy blend of earl grey infused rye and Amaro Nonino. Of the eight taps at the bar, co-owner Jason Romanoff (formerly of Nota Bene ) has dedicated a half dozen to craft beers and two to batch cocktails.
Laconic menu descriptions might leave diners a little a perplexed - so the wait staff better be prepared to answer lots of questions. The calamari ragu risotto ($13), for instance, sounds great on paper; squid ink, slow cooked calamari, toasted sourdough, salumi; but then when it arrives I've got to ask what I'm looking at.
As it turns out, that sourdough comes into play as a crispy breadcrumb topping. The promised salumi? It's sweated out with sofrito to deepen the base of a slow braised ragu comprising chopped squid with rice. It's pleasantly briny but also homey and comforting.
The Hard Salad ($10) is all about crunchy textures of quick pickled turnips, and crispy shallots over a bed of gem lettuce tossed in a sweet and tangy miso ginger dressing and finished with cloud of finely shredded grano padano.
For dessert, we try an apple and salted almond streusel tart ($8), which, again, I feel needs a proper explanation to be appreciated. This isn't your average streusel, but rather a mini version featuring layers of creme anglaise, caramelized apple and almond crumble assembled to order in a crisp buttery shell.
Expect The Commodore to open for dinner and keep the kitchen open until midnight most nights.