Little Fin, now open at the base of the Dineen Building in the Financial District , aims to bait the expense-account toting, Bay St. lunch crowd with a seafood-centric menu that follows the fast food model.
It's the latest eatery from The Chase Hospitality Group , the same team behind Colette and two neighbouring namesake restaurants, The Chase and The Chase Fish & Oyster . Despite being the most casual (and compact, at just 800 square feet) of the bunch, the core philosophies are similar, focused on sustainable and wild-caught seafare, and healthy, high-quality dining options.
Inside is standing room only, though there are rails to perch against while eating and a communal table on the patio outside. The airy, all-white room is blessed with incredibly high ceilings and outfitted with striped panelling and nautical brass light fixtures.
The menu from chef Nigel Finley opens with a selection of proteins that can be ordered on a bun, with potatoes and slaw, garden slaw, or seaweed salad. Choices include crispy haddock ($9), single or double cheeseburgers ($9.25/$14.25), mahi mahi ($12), fried chili chicken ($13), salmon ($14), and big eye tuna ($15).
When it comes to rolls like the lobster BLT ($21) and smoked crab ($17), style triumphs over substance. Custom-baked black buns (egg bread, really) are coloured with bamboo charcoal, and while visually distinct, are not imparted with any flavour (thankfully... I think).
Both sandwiches feature succulent morsels of shellfish; the lobster is garnished with sliced tomato and bacon, while the crab is dressed with avocado, sweet corn and fried onions. Each is loaded to capacity on its bun - the only problem is that these buns are so diminutive.
Skip the crispy, chili-glazed rock shrimp roll ($10) - it might seem comparatively cheap but the prawns are chopped into tiny morsels and are so thoroughly coated that the fried breading is the most notable component.
Opt instead for the crispy haddock ($9) doused with a garlicky lemon caper sauce. It's not bad value, especially when paired with sides of potato wedges and a vibrant slaw - this one actually eats like a meal.
Salmon ($14) is worthwhile too - the rosy filet of smoked fish arrives swimming in a sweet maple and brandy marinade. The sides are, of course, up to you, but since I've yet to actually praise the wedges, I'll take the opportunity to do so now. They're really good, crispy as promised and finished with macerated garlic and old bay seasoning. The accompanying slaw is tasty too, finely shredded and dressed with an herb, ponzu and miso vinaigrette.
While I didn't try it this time, the take-away lobster program might be the most enticing feature at Little Fin. Whole ($41) or half ($27) lobster dinners, complete with drawn butter, potatoes and garden slaw, are available for take-away. Live lobsters (MP) plucked right from the tank are ready to be packed up and steamed at home.
Photos by Jesse Milns