The Boil Bar

Toronto loves food trends and the latest arrival, from southern US, is the seafood boil. Popular in states like Louisiana and Georgia, where fresh seafood is plentiful, seafood boils generally consist of shellfish cooked by boiling or baking. Meant to be a communal and social event, seafood boils are best enjoyed with family, friends and hands-on. The Boil Bar aims to recreate the experience in a restaurant setting with an Asian influence. Their first location opened in Scarborough, and two more downtown addresses are already in the works. I was invited to check out their unique version of a seafood boil, which included a truly Asian twist, bubble tea.

Disclaimer: All food and drinks reviewed below were provided complimentary. All opinions expressed below are wholly mine.

With lobster traps, fish nets and painted crabs on the wall, the decor at The Boil Bar was whole heartedly nautical. Sitting in one corner of the dining room was a Presotea stand, serving up a menu of their classic drinks. I tried the milk tea with their signature panda pearls (black and white) and the honey and aloe vera tea. All drinks were customizable for sugar and ice level. I found the milk tea creamy and the honey tea very light, a better fit for the seafood feast.

To start, we sampled takoyaki (listed as octopus balls on the menu) and raw Fanny Bay oysters supplied from Diana’s Seafood. Other snacks include spicy chicken feet, fries and garlic bread. I thought the takoyaki was ok, missing a crunchy exterior, but not bad. The oysters were delicious, shucked cleanly and served was tobasco sauce, seafood sauce and lemon wedges.

Mains are ordered using a 3 step process. First the shellfish is chosen, priced by the pound, second the flavour and third the level of spice. Fresh seafood is delivered to the restaurant daily 30 minutes before doors open at 4pm. I tried four mains and in general, found the sauces light in seasoning. A touch more spice would have helped. The Garlic and House sauces were the most distinct and had the strongest flavour.
1. Crawfish (Seasonal) with Cajun Sauce, Mild Spicy – unique experience, fresh and tender
2. Mussels ($18.95/lb) with Garlic Sauce, a Bit Spicy – meaty, a good value, not live
3. King Crab ($29.95/lb) Leg with Lemon Pepper Sauce, a Bit Spicy – pre cracked, one pound would be good for two people, lemon pepper was provided in a separate container
4. Clams ($18.95/lb) with House Sauce, Mild Spicy – fresh, many of the clams fell out of the shells
All of the seafood bags also included chunks of sweet corn on the cob and slices of red sausage. The corn was delicious, and I would have loved a bag of…just corn.

For the best value, I’d recommend ordering the crawfish, mussels and dungeness crab. Each table was supplied with a bucket for shells, plastic gloves and a roll of paper towels. Servers circulated the room swapping out full buckets and handing out extra plastic gloves as needed. With my small hands, the one size gloves didn’t fit perfectly, and the oil did leak through, so be prepared for a messy night (don’t wear white). The meal did generate a lot of waste.

I also got to taste the Baked Lobster ($29.95), a full lobster with a generous, creamy, baked mayonnaise topping. Claws were already cracked for easy access and the tail was easy to scoop out. This was really good. The Boil Bar also offers customizable Sizzling Plates ($12.99) to help round out meals.

Overall, dinner at The Boil Bar was fun, interactive and featured fresh, seafood cooked in a unique style. Based on the per pound pricing, the bill could add up quickly if a table was ordering only lobster and crab legs. However with a wide selection of tasty, well-priced side dishes and sizzling plates, a filling meal can be enjoyed without breaking the bank. I look forward to more locations popping up and enjoying the building seafood boil wave.

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The Boil Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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