Chef Jon Vettraino serves up fresh seafood in a space with seafaring style
Newly opened, the Commodore adds its own brand of déjà vu to vintage-heavy Parkdale. After the city scuttled Captain John’s – the passenger ship–restaurant recently hauled from the harbour at the foot of Yonge Street – Marx Kruis of Kruisbuilt, the interior designer also behind Bar Isabel, salvaged the casual scattering of squat porthole lights that now stud the Commodore’s ceiling. The spot has a nautical air, but a kitschy floating banquet hall this isn’t.
After a near-total gut job that kept only the maple flooring intact, Kruis was left with an empty, albeit compact, space; maximizing it became a priority. He limited the palette to shades of brown, and skimped on hard angles in favour of curves to lend movement and volume. Narrow wood panelling arches up from the floor and overhead, punctuated by seemingly worn cracks in the otherwise solid whitewash. It’s decidedly maritime in feel, but there’s nary an anchor nor crab trap in sight.
The seafood-heavy menu is big on small plates courtesy of chef and co-owner Jon Vettraino, whose bona fides include F’Amelia, Splendido, and 416 Snack Bar. The Swordfish Crudo ($13), finished with shiso, Trinidad peppers, crispy chicken skin – that texture! – and pickled sea asparagus, shows off Vettraino’s skill. The Grilled Bavette ($20), a bistro staple, is a nod to tradition – the accompanying uni (or sea urchin) butter is just plain amazing.
Behind the bar – which was antiqued and stained by sculptor Sebastian Butt, whose work has been featured at the Art Gallery of Ontario – shelves of the good stuff are supported by two gentle crescents of oak that meet in the middle.
Eight chrome taps on the bar top pour six beers and two cocktails. The Bobby Burns, a blend of Scotch, sweet vermouth and Benedictine, is a classic; the Commodore will likely become one as well.
1265 Queen St W 416 537 1265 Wed-Sun 5-2 (Food until 12)
Originally published in our Spring 2016 issue.