What's the draw?
If it were up to us, we'd completely do away with the whole 'no reservations' trend that seemed to storm the city, but some still holding on to this are forgiveable in our eyes, The Commodore being one of them. Most recently a short-lived vegetarian restaurant, this Parkdale space is unrecognisable, with Marx Kruis, Bar Isabel's designer, gutting it and transforming it to loosely resemble a ship's hull. Although partners Jon Vettraino (416 Snack Bar, Buca) and Jason Romanoff (Mercatto, Nota Bene) consider it a seafood restaurant, the only semblance of a nautical theme (besides the food) you're going to get is via the pot lights that line the ceiling – they've been salvaged from Toronto's dearly departed landmark Captain John's when that ship sailed last year. Equally good for dinner as it is for a snack and some drinks, The Commodore's minor details, right down to the proper sound-proofing of the walls to ensure that the music (which deserves a special nod as the mainly Motown playlist was one of the best we've heard), are meticulous, creating an ambience which doesn't overpower.
What to drink?
You'll be safe ordering anything from the classic cocktail menu, but we recommend going for one of the house cocktails, like the charming All My Love – a mix of gin, chamomile syrup, herbsaint and Peychaud bitters. There are two further batch cocktails available on draft along with a selection of Ontario craft beers including Nickel Brook, Beau's and Oast House. But we're going to let you in on a little secret: the bar makes an absolute mean Dark & Stormy, due in part to the fact that they use their own house brewed ginger beer. It's not on the menu because they make such small batches of the beer, but if you tell them the fine folks at Foodism told you to order it, they'll happily oblige.
What to eat?
Plates are delicate and meant for sharing. Vettraino has taken a non-traditional approach to seafood – infusing flavours and ingredients from a wide variety of cuisines to compliment the dishes. For example, Trinidad peppers, shiso leaves and crispy chicken skin create depth in a swordfish crudo. The menu features plenty of land-friendly options, including the two standouts of the night: the brussel sprouts with confit pork and toasted cashews and the 'Sweet Cheeks' – a tongue-in-cheek-named (sorry, we had to) braised pork cheek and tongue topped with a caramelized apple and maple glaze, that creates a perfect blend of sweet and savoury. Dessert options are limited to an apple tart and pumpkin pudding – grab another Dark & Stormy and try both.
Dinner and drinks for two: around $85. 1265 Queen Street West, 416-537-1265, commodorebar.ca