CLOSED: John & Sons Oyster House (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 1 Balmoral Avenue, Unit 7
Type of Meal: Dinner

John and Son's Oyster House has a comfortable environment. Open, airy and decorated with simple wooden decor there is plenty of light and suitable ambient noise to allow for louder conversation. Yet place settings are still polished with thick linen napkins and shiny cutlery. Plus, the lovely aroma of seafood cooking just adds to the experience.

Ordering off of their Summerlicious menu, I started with the crab cake. Thankfully, John and Son did not skimp on the dungeness crab. Tender and moist it easily flaked apart. I liked that the filling was not overly seasoned so the sweetness of the crab remained. Topped with a dollop of lemon aioli and placed on topped of some lightly dressed arugula this was a good starter.

My friends’ New England style chowders arrived piping hot, a pleasure when mass produced soup can sometimes become lukewarm when left in warming pots. They seemed pleased and enjoyed the fact it wasn’t too heavy despite being cream based.

The niçoise was beautifully presented with all the fresh and vibrant vegetables. Each element of the dish was thoughtfully prepared – the tuna evenly seared with a delicately salted crust, the asparagus retaining some crunch, the roasted tomato not too acidic and even the olives fantastic as not overly briny. But my favourite component was the soft boil egg that sat upon a bacon (?) aoili with crunched crunchy bacon bits on top; it left me wanting more.

Two good sized portions of wild haddock arrived in the fish and chips along with tons of fries and a side coleslaw. The fish was moist and flakey; although the batter a bit thick and oily for my taste. Unfortunately, the fries were soggy and reminded me of the Swiss Chalet delivery fries. They could have benefited from being fried twice. 

My friend's black angus flat iron steak was a respectable size but arrived undercooked (seemed rare when ordered medium rare). But, it looked juicy and succulent with a nice char to it. The fries were sadly the same soggy variety. 

In terms of the desserts most people preferred the frozen lemon mascarpone cheese cake. Creamy and fluffy with raspberries on top, it was a lighter dessert to end the meal.

I enjoyed the cinnamon sugar dusted doughnut. With a sweet maple butter glaze and crunchy chocolate nut bits it had varying elements of salty & sweet and soft & crunchy. The doughnut could have been fried a tad longer as the middle was a bit soft and doughy.

The brownie was moist and chocolaty but we found it lacked the oomph the other desserts had. 

Service was efficient with dishes coming out in quick succession. Overall, it wasn't bad but could have been improved with two minor suggestions:
  1.  Be more attentive with refilling water. Although each table was given a large bottle for self-refills, once that was empty it wasn’t automatically replaced.
  2. More of a personal pet peeve, but I prefer finished dishes to be left and collected when the entire table is done (or in larger tables as sections are done). This ensures that slower diners don’t feel rushed and those who are finished still retain cutlery to sneak tastes off of a friend’s plate.

Overall, my choices were delicious and it felt nice to eat fresh vegetables and seafood so that I wasn’t overly stuffed at the end. John and Son is a nice choice (for seafood) and appears to have a great closed in patio ideal for summer days.

Is Summerlicious worth it?

As a special feature to the Summerlicious blogs, I will attempt to calculate the savings being offered (based on my meal selection).

Summerlicious - $35

Regular menu - $49 - crab cake ($15), nicoise ($25) and doughnut ($9)

Savings - $14 or 29%

* The crab cake is based on their downtown menu price.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

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Gastro World's Grading System
  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!