Climbing the Lobster Mountain at Fishman Lobster Clubhouse

Fishman Lobster ClubhouseLocation: 4020 Finch Avenue East, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.flctoronto.com/

Is it even possible to see the impressively enormous piles of lobster or crab at Fishman Lobster Clubhouse and not want to immediately go there?  I don’t think it is!

I’ve been drooling over those piles on Instagram for some time now, not to mention on David Chang’s amazing Netflix show, Ugly Delicious.  But you need a big group to really do the place justice, so I had to bide my time until a large enough group could be assembled.

I recently went with a group of ten, and yeah, we did the place justice.

Fishman Lobster Clubhouse

We started with a few different dishes — soup, braised beef, greens, fried rice, noodles — and they were all tasty enough, but that’s not the reason you’re there.

We ordered a twenty pound pile of lobster, which consisted of two enormous beasts that they actually brought to the table before the meal started (a lot of people like to pose for pre-dinner photographs with their lobsters or crabs, which felt like a bit much to me).

Fishman Lobster Clubhouse

Later, the mountain arrives.  And it’s an awe-inspiring sight: a seemingly endless amount of deep-fried lobster chunks, a whole bunch of fries, and enough crispy fried garlic bits to launch a vampire genocide.

It’s so good.  The lobster is cut up into easy-to-eat chunks; it’s still on the shell, but the meat is accessible without the need for any shell-crunching tools.  Which is good, because there’s a lot of lobster there — there’s no time to mess around with cracking shells.  There’s a whole bunch of lobster to eat.

Fishman Lobster Clubhouse

It’s more lobster than I’ve ever had in a single meal, and it’s so tasty; the meat is tender, garlicky, a little bit sweet, and has some nice fried crispy bits.  That’s not to mention the fried garlic, which is surprisingly addictive (you’re going to reek of garlic for about 24 hours after eating here; deal with it).

I ate an insane amount of lobster.  I was so full.  It was one of the most memorable meals I’ve had in a while.

Amazing French Street Food at Mister Frenchy

Mister FrenchieLocation: 675 Danforth Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.misterfrenchy.com/

Mister Frenchy is an unassuming restaurant on the Danforth that specializes in something called French tacos.

No, I had never heard of a French taco either.  But it’s a real thing, apparently — it’s basically a meaty, pressed wrap that was popularized in the Lyon region of France.

I think it’s safe to say that this is the only place in the city that you can try one, which is something that you should absolutely do.  It’s shockingly amazing.

Mister Frenchie

They have a variety of French tacos and baguette sandwiches on their menu; I went with the Le Lyonais French taco, which comes with “ground beef, Algerian sauce, tomatoes, onions, sweet peppers, French fries, and sauce fromagere.”

It was so good.  The wrap was perfectly pressed, giving you that perfect combo of crispy and chewy.  And the filling was pure comfort food perfection: an amazing mix of nicely spiced beef, perfectly cooked veggies, zingy sauce, and abundantly gooey cheese.

Mister Frenchie

Oh, and there are fries in there as well — I’m normally not crazy about potatoes in a sandwich/wrap, but the fries here add substance without getting in the way or calling attention to themselves.  The whole thing is ridiculously satisfying.

Alas, the fries on the side didn’t work nearly as well as the fries in the wrap.  They were undercooked, the herb mixture they were tossed in was overbearing, and the sauce on top was way too zesty to work as a dipping sauce.

Which is fine — the wrap is a perfectly satisfying meal on its own.  Plus, it’s way heavier than it looks.  It’s a bit of a gut-buster.

Horrifying BBQ at Hungry Hollow Smokehouse and Grille

Hungry Hollow Smokehouse & GrilleLocation: 134 Guelph Street, Georgetown
Websitehttp://www.hungryhollow.ca/

I try to be a “glass half full” type of guy whenever I can, because it’s always good to have a positive outlook on life.  So, glass half full: Hungry Hollow Smokehouse and Grille gives me a much better appreciation for the disappointing BBQ joints across the GTA.

Places like Adamson Barbecue and Hogtown Smoke might not be as smoky as I’d like, but at least what they’re serving tastes good.  Hungry Hollow, on the other hand…

Hungry Hollow Smokehouse & Grille

I tried the brisket and the pulled pork, along with the fries and coleslaw.

The brisket was, no contest, the worst barbecue brisket I’ve ever had (and probably the worst brisket I’ve ever had, period).  It was atrociously bad.

Hungry Hollow Smokehouse & Grille

There’s no sugar-coating it; this particular glass is completely empty.  The brisket was dry, it had zero smoky flavour, and worst of all, it was the leftoveriest piece of leftover meat in the history of the world.  It had a sharply gamy flavour that immediately let you know something was amiss.  It was outright inedible.

The pork was much better.  It wasn’t particularly good, mind you, but I was able to eat it.

Hungry Hollow Smokehouse & Grille

The texture was complete mush, and like the beef, it wasn’t even remotely smoky — but the flavour was otherwise okay.  It was about on par with the vacuum-sealed pulled pork you can get at the supermarket, and it was clearly fresh.  Under any other circumstances it would have seemed much worse, but after that questionable beef, something with no off flavours was quite delightful.

The sides, at least, were unambiguously tasty.  The fries were fresh and perfectly cooked, and the coleslaw was nice and creamy, with a good level of acidity.

Decent Eats at Olde Yorke Fish & Chips

Olde York Fish & ChipsLocation: 96 Laird Drive, Toronto
Websitehttps://oldeyorkefishandchips.com/

Everyone loves fish and chips, don’t they?  It’s one of those universally appealing meals that’s hard to truly hate.  I mean, it’s a big old plate of deep fried goodness.

But it’s surprisingly difficult to find a place that does it really well (without a plane ticket to the UK, at least).  It’s such a simple dish, but sometimes the simplest meals are the toughest to pull off.  It’s just fish and batter; if your technique isn’t perfect, there’s nowhere to hide.

Olde York Fish & Chips

I got the haddock and chips from Olde York, and while it was certainly tasty, there were a couple of things holding it back from being much better than okay.

A lot of fish and chips joints tend drop the ball with the batter itself; so many places over-apply it, resulting in a thick and crunchy shell that overwhelms the fish.  And while Olde York isn’t the worst offender in this regard, the batter was definitely too substantial.

Olde York Fish & Chips

It’s also easy to overcook the fish, and alas, that was an issue here as well.  It wasn’t too blatant, but it was dryer than it should have been.

I don’t want to make this a complain-a-thon, because I actually did enjoy it… but the fries could have been crispier and the tartar sauce was way too sweet.

But that’s the thing about fish and chips: even when it’s not perfect, it’s still so satisfying.

Super Deluxe Hot Dogs at Kung Fu Dawg

Kung Fu DawgLocation: 19 Ossington Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttp://kungfudawg.com/

Remember when street vendor hot dogs were everywhere in the city?  There was a time when you couldn’t walk more than a block or two without running into one.  I’m not sure exactly why they mostly went away, though I’m assuming it has something to do with the explosion of cheap eats around the city over the last decade or so, not to mention the general foodie-ification of the GTA.

But there are still a handful of old school vendors around the city — or if you’re looking for something made with a bit more care, there’s Kung Fu Dawg on Ossington.

They actually make their own hot dogs and put them in a natural casing, which gives you a snappier bite than a traditional dog.  The pickles and many of the condiments are homemade as well, so clearly, this is something a bit more special than your typical street meat.

Kung Fu Dawg

I ordered the namesake Kung Fu Dawg, which is piled high with fennel slaw, pickles, onions, jalapenos, corn relish, spicy mayo, crispy onions, chili, and cheese.

There’s no easy way to eat this.  I tried to pick it up out of the cardboard box it’s served in, but it was so big and unwieldy I couldn’t get a grip on it.  Eventually, I had to just embrace the mess and dive in.

It’s really good, and an absolute cornucopia of tastes and textures.  It’s pretty much got all the flavours: it’s salty, savoury, sweet, vinegary, and a little bit spicy.  It’s crispy, it’s crunchy, it’s meaty — it’s everything at once.

Kung Fu Dawg

I liked it a lot, but I think there might have been a little bit too much going on.  They make their own hot dogs, but there’s so much stuff piled on top of it that you can barely taste it. It may as well have been Oscar Mayer.

Of course, the whole thing is super delicious, so it’s hard to complain too much — but next time, I think I’ll order something a bit more plain so I can see what the actual hot dog tastes like.

Oh, and I also tried the fries; like the hot dog, they were way above average.