Cool City Oyster Yard
Cool City Oyster Yard is now open off the east side lounge at 99 Sudbury. The name captures all the important things to know; it's connected to one of the city's mot popular venues; it's about as urban as you can get (the tracks are mere meters away and passing trains audibly rush by almost like a stand-in for a coastline); oysters are the main event, and, the yard is entirely al fresco, constructed from reclaimed wood skids.
Co-owners Marco Petrucci and Chef Michael Pataran are the same busy pair who are also undertaking the revitalization of the El Mocambo. The duo plans to take advantage of this new space as late into the season as possible. Currently, the patio is not all-weather-ready but plans for a permanent trellis and outdoor heaters will shelter diners from the elements before summer's end. For now just count your blessings on sunny days.
Oysters brought in from Diana's and Daily Seafood are available in seven to nine varieties daily (try the plump Fat Bastards if you can). Listed at market price, dozens are discounted and served on trays with mounds of fresh horseradish and unique house-made condiments like Jalapeño lime jelly, Bahamian hot pepper sauce and Japanese pickled shallot and cucumber vinaigrette.
The Crawfish Boil (MP) with corn cob discs, kielbasa and fingerling potatoes is spilled out from a bucket for easy pickin' with bread on the side to mop up the smoky Creole spiced broth. Instructions on how to get at the best morsels are available for novices like me - bibs too. Tables are knowingly stocked with rolls of paper towel; it's a messy hands-on task to get through, but worth it.
The raw Tuna Salad ($19), akin to a Hawaiian poke, is coarsely chopped and mixed with avocado, pumpkin seed oil, citrus zest, and hot peppers. But it's the most unsuspecting condiment that makes the rich, buttery components all sing together: a swish of koji salt (a fermented remnant of the sake wine making process, better explained in this LA Times article).
For the table, cocktails are available by the pitcher ($45) along with draught beer and 750ml bottles ($19-$27). The wine list from Master Sommelier, John Szabo boasts an eclectic array of thoughtfully chosen bottles to go well with seafood.
On Sundays, a seafood-centric brunch offers up eggs benny or flapjacks with lobster plus an inventive caesar menu; in the evenings, there are Paella specials that will feed from two up to twelve. Other weekly specials like, Piss n' Spuds on Tuesdays see a 60oz Muskoka Weiss paired with a bucket of clams for $30.
Photos by Tracy Zhang