What used to be Starfish Oyster Bed & Grill for 13 years is now Pearl Diver; a cool and hip pub-like restaurant that pays tribute to the best land and sea has to offer. But what makes Pearl Diver even more special is Patrick McMurray – owner and champion shucker. Yes, this cool dude is a World Oyster Shuckin’ Champion with a Guinness Record of 38 Oysters per minute and 1,114 per hour! And yet, with all this success, this guy is very down to earth and brims with excitement when he talks about seafood. There is no denying that he owns his craft and is incredibly passionate about it.
I would like to tell you that I learned a great deal about oysters and seafood as I stood there watching Patrick shuck and teach my fellow Yelpers and I about shucking and seafood. But I regress – I was too busy stuffing myself silly with delicious food.
Oh the food…
I had the opportunity to try the fish & chips, fried calamari, grilled cheese, coconut milk baked mussels, sticky toffee pudding, and last but certainly not least – the star of the night – New Brunswick oysters! Wow! Those oysters were divine! They were fresh, and tasted like they were just pulled from the sea. In fact, I did not want to mask their natural flavor with sauces or radish concoctions, though many guests commented on how delicious the sauces were.
The food standouts for me were:
The PD Mussels made with ginger, chili, lemongrass, coconut milk and cilantro. This item is regularly served with frites for $18
PD Fish & Chips for $18
My favorite item of the evening, aside from the oysters, was the Sourdough Grilled Cheese for $12. Holy hell was it good! Unfortunately I do not see it on the dinner menu, so I guess you will have to go for lunch to try it. Boo
People were raving about the burger slider, but unfortunately it had onions, and I hate onions! I know you all know that by now and are probably sick of hearing it. 🙂 The burger is priced at $15 and you can add bacon or applewood smoked cheddar for $1 each.
Also, rumor has it that their Starfish Sticky Toffee Pudding is legendary. I tried it and thought it was good, but nothing to rave about. But then again, I am very particular about my desserts. You can try it for $7.
In terms of drinks, they carry Scrimshaw Oyster Stout, which according to my beer-lover Yelp buddies is very difficult to find. I tried it, and I liked it, though I never would have known that oysters were incorporated in the brew. Specifically, Scrimshaw Oyster Stout is a full-bodied, dry Irish stout that has notes of chocolate and coffee, a velvety texture with subtle oyster undertones. One thousand whole Green Gables Mapleque Oysters from New London Bay, Prince Edward Island were added to the brew during the boil (shells and all!), creating a unique and flavorful stout.
Overall, I thought the food and vibe at Pearl Diver was fantastic! Would I visit them again? Maybe when they have oyster specials. Looking at the prices, I find them to be on the higher end, and after dining at so many awesome restaurants in the city that offer similar cuisine, with lower prices – it will be a hard sell for me. But then again, few dining establishments in Toronto know their seafood….