Rock Lobster (Leslieville)
Rock Lobster has a new Leslieville location and, as they say, good things come in threes. The new outpost is the third in the fleet of seafood restaurants from chef Matt Dean Pettit and partners Michael Homewood and Darryl Fine, joining locations on Ossington and Queen West . The new spot also boasts three patios, making the 50-seat interior three times larger in the summer.
The interior is emblematized with a mural - courtesy of Matt's dad - but otherwise sparsely decorated, save for bright red stools that punctuate the barn wood-clad space. The menu, meanwhile, is an amalgamation of its predecessors, listing options that were once exclusive to one location or the other.
At the new location, the infamous lobster poutine ($15) sits next to the lobster mac n' cheese, along with the snow crab ($28) and lobster ($45) boils. Notably absent are the $5 favourites - you know, the single tacos and Fillet "Eh" Fish - presumably because the crowd here will be more interested in dinner and less into bar snacks.
Catering to families on the east side, the space is soon to be equipped with dedicated stroller parking. An $8 kids menu offers a choice of popcorn shrimp, man n' cheese or stuffed grilled cheese with a drink.
We stick to the newly introduced items on the menu, since we're already quite familiar with the signature rolls and raw bar offerings, but of course it's all available should you wish to order clusters of snow crab ($10) or lobster tails ($12) a la carte. The selection of rolls includes the cold or hot Maine-style lobster rolls ($15/$18) as well as shrimp rolls done jerk or buffalo style ($14) and a fried clam roll ($13).
Unique to this location is lobster bruschetta ($13), a cold salad of plump Nova Scotia lobster mixed with fresh corn, celery, mayo, Thai chili, and vine tomatoes over a base of avocado on crostini.
Fresh shucked oysters 'Rock Lobster Caesar' style ($13) are served on the shell over ice. Accompanied by a little Clamato shooter, the bivalves are doused in vodka and topped with lobster, diced tomato, worcestershire and celery leaves.
The vegetarian-friendly Green Jacket ($12) takes advantage of seasonal spring produce like baby leeks, green beans and asparagus. Grilled lemon spritzed overtop makes the dish sing while finely shredded Grana Padano adds umami.
Aside from fries, the lettuce cups ($12) are the sole vegan option featuring sliced avocado, orange segments and slivered almonds set nestled into bib lettuce leaves and dressed with lemon zest, basil, garlic and olive oil. Passing these off as a meal for meat-free eaters is a little a cruel - especially when your company is mowing down fresh seafood - but as a side or starter, I totally approve.
At the bar there is wine on tap from Vineland Estate as well as beers on draught, in bottles or tall cans. The house Caesar ($13), garnished with a lobster tail, is a menu staple, though there's other stuff too (who knew?), like the Radler Paloma ($12) made with Tromba Tequila Blanco, Stiegl Radler and grapefruit bitters.
Rock Lobster (Leslieville) is open from 5pm, Monday through Friday while on the weekends brunch is served from 11am.
Photos by Jesse Milns