Prince Edward Island exports its best products to Toronto and other major cities. Sadly, I tend to be able to find better seafood and beef in Toronto at Oliffe or Rodney’s Oyster House than on PEI in the summer. Obviously, this has to do with economics, but it angers me that most Islanders have no idea what amazing food they produce on their own doorsteps. Case in exception: Ship to Shore Restaurant and Lounge.
Strangely, this seafood venue has received high praise from a great many reputable, international food reviewers, but somehow it does not feel like they know how to capitalize on the brilliant food coming out of their kitchen. I can honestly say that this particular dinner featured the freshest oysters I have ever tasted, that the quality of food matched that of an Au Pied du Cochon or Le Bouchon, and that the final bill was still reasonable in my world. Perhaps what confused me most was the hipster attitude [selling a Lincoln Continental for $8500 on the menu] without a real hipster vibe to the place. There are no tattooed waitresses, no oyster shuckers with the look of having just worked on their Harley Knucklehead, and there were no faded velvet chairs or industrial lighting – Ship to Shore is a standard looking fish restaurant with an odd attitude from within. Let’s be clear though; we were treated with attention, positivity and an appreciation for our personal tastes.
We ordered 18 Malpeque oysters from Raspberry Pt., Darney and Lucky Limes, and each one tasted of fresh sea water and were transparent with life. Next came a pot of mussels done in coconut red curry, and these were small but perfectly cooked. I would never complain about not being given enough food at Ship to Shore. My father ordered the Matador’s Fish and Chips, which at $15 were well-priced and superb [by far the best piece of fresh cod I have ever tasted], but I have to ask whether the option of $28 Halibut would have been able to be twice as good as the cod…now I wish that I had tested that out.
Crab balls with a nice aioli-style dip completed our main courses for the three of us. These were a light, but crab-filled, quintet of balls done in a light crumb batter. Unlike crab cakes, I found each piece to be without the oily flavour inherent in many versions. Absolutely phenomenal! We ended the meal with the chocolate thing…really an flourless chocolate cake [perhaps done with almond meal] that was topped with a scoop of French vanilla ice cream. Warm, comforting and refined; the cake found room in our tummies despite all odds.
Final thoughts on Ship to Shore: I would eat there any day of the week, it matches many of the world’s best restaurants that I have reviewed or eaten at, freshness is inherent in everything I tasted, and we loved it. I wholeheartedly recommend heading there while you can, because it remains a unique option that feels completely ignored by the local population on the Island and represents great value and flavour for anyone willing to explore a quirky menu. I am now looking forward to dinner at the Shipwright Cafe on Saturday night to see how it holds up against Ship to Shore.