95 Pine St.
‘Twas the 27th, a beautiful evening in the Pike St. Market, and where else better to go for my b-day dinner than the Steelhead Diner( My G-ma’s suggestion, thanks Lee). The space is alive from the get-go, great crowd and good smells. My grandparents are sea-lubbers, and enjoy the bounty of the sea on a plate. The majority of the food here is from the sea, and logically so, as the Pike fishmongers are a stones-throw away. I enjoyed a kolsch, and everyone else had wines and draft beer. I’m ashamed to admit that this night was a critical initiation. I’ve avoided oysters as long as I could manage, but I figured that Steelhead would be a safe place to try my first oyster. We shared a trio of broiled Jorstad Creek Pacific Oysters, with paprika and caramalized fennel butter. L and L kicked off the evening with the Chiogga Beet Salad($8.95), with crumbled ‘Oregonzola’ cheese, and watercress. The menu described the salad with walnuts, but the nuts were mysteriously pecan like( maybe they ran out?). I chose the Kasu marinated Black cod, L and M ordered the Halibut($21.95 for half order), my father ordered the catfish tacos($16.95), and Lee had the Mussels a la Mariniere($14.95).
Ahh where to begin on this journey of the tastebuds… hmm…
To be fair, I didn’t give oysters a fair chance all these years. I’m a sensitive texture guy and I thought they would make me gag. I liked that Steelhead offered a broiled option, and the texture was quite pleasant. The oodles of butter added some richness to the oyster, but I definitely got the hit of the ocean that I was expecting. Briny, sweet and juicy. Who knows.. might try a raw oyster soon?
The beet salad was tasty, nice portion, the beets were cold. I think if they were served warm, and with a bit more seasoning, it would have elevated the salad.
The entrees come in full and half orders( from the Field and Stream portion of the menu). I ordered the half-order of the black cod( $21.95). Kasu( what the fish was marinated in) is basically the left-overs of sake production, typically used for pickling or as a marinade paste. The flavour was sweet and subtle, and the fish was garnished with a moat of baby bok choy, raw carrots and ginger, and sauteed shiitake mushrooms floating in a broth. The fish was very delicate in texture, but the flavour was more on the ‘fishy’ side than I was expecting for Black Cod( sablefish, butterfish). I didn’t finish the whole dish, but I’m glad I tried it.
The halibut dish definitely stole the show. The top side was a beautiful crisp golden brown, and the colours were beautiful( from the peas and morel mushroom stew). No complaints, only praise for this dish.
The catfish tacos were fried perfectly, and the flesh was wonderfully moist. Catfish has an acquired taste, with almost a sandy taste( without the gritty texture). My father really enjoyed these tacos, great sized portion too!
Lee was somewhat ambivalent with her mussels a la mariniere, but she tackled them like a true champ. She prefers mussels to be prepared simply, but this preparation simply had too much going on. There were chunks of ham piggy-backing on top of the plump mussels, and took away from the essence of these fine molluscs.
The prices here at Steelhead may be on the more expensive side, but the quality of the ingredients seems worth it. If you would like more side dishes to share, as we did, you can add on some vegetables and legumes to your meal. We shared an order of green beans a la Amandine( with smoked almons, rosemary, candied orange peel and lots o’ butter, $7.95), a helping of red beans and rice( with Hempler’s Andouille sausage, $6.95), and a poutine( holla Canada!, with Beecher’s cheese curds, $7.95).
This was one hell of a meal, a very nice birthday treat! The location is like no other, perched right above the Pike Market practically. Great seafood, cool ambiance and an inventive menu.