What’s on the menu at Prime Seafood Palace, Matty Matheson’s new Queen West steakhouse


What’s on the menu at Prime Seafood Palace, Matty Matheson’s new Queen West steakhouse

Last name: Premier Seafood Palace
Contact: 944 Queen Street West, primeseafoodpalace.ca, @primeseafoodpalace
Piece: Queen West West
Owner: Matty Matheson
Chief: Coulson Armstrong
Seats: 66 inside
Accessibility: Fully accessible

The food

In keeping with Matty Matheson’s original vision for Prime Seafood Palace in 2016, it is first and foremost a steakhouse menu. But, for Chef Coulson Armstrong, the guideline is restraint. It avoids unnecessary complexity (but not luxury) while pushing the premium product to the peak of its potential.

Matheson and Armstrong

The dark amber grains of Kristal sturgeon caviar are served with a full suite of thoughtful accompaniments: home-grown butter and fresh cream, molasses bread, and brunoise-cut chives, to name a few. Steak selections include melting and tender A5 Wagyu and bone-in strip loin aged 30 days. Upstairs, whole fish destined for a magnificent crudo are dry-aged to umami and textural perfection.

Despite lavish indulgences, you can just as easily have a full meal of simply prepared vegetables or minimally embellished seafood. Matheson wanted the space to be inclusive: come as you are, wear what you want, and enjoy the culmination of the six-year odyssey that brought the restaurant to life.

A dollop of cream infused five-year-aged Parmesan cheese nestles in ultra-velvety Yukon Gold mashed potatoes. It all ends with a cut of silky chicken demi-glace. (Anyone else seeing the Eye of Sauron here? Just me? Okay.) $16.
A 100 gram tin of Kristal caviar with a host of accessories: butter, spun and grown in-house from Hewitt’s Dairy cream; fresh whipped cream and also from the house; brined, freshly fried kettle fries; chive; shallots; and molasses bread made from brioche covered in a brown butter glaze and Maldon salt. The full can is $500, but you can order an ounce for $100.
A crudo of (from bottom to top) wild king salmon, kampachi (yellow series) and bluefin tuna, seasoned with mirin and sea salt. The salmon and kampachi are dry-aged in house for firmer textures and deeper flavors. The pool trio sits on a punchy vinaigrette of finely chopped capers, red onion, anchovies, chives and golden Sicilian olive oil. A grating of fresh wasabi is the finishing touch. $45 for the small (pictured here), $80 for the large.
Good thing we have a pair of hands for scale here: these shrimp, from the Gulf of Mexico, are absolute units. They are poached in court-bouillon, peeled and served on a shiso leaf with a house cocktail sauce garnished with grated horseradish. $55.
Here we have a crispy round of savory steak tartare. Beef from a Guelph-area farm is seasoned with homemade chickpea miso, Dijon mustard and Kozlik’s Daily shallot. It is served with fried garlic, a generous layer of toasted sesame and lemon zest. Two soft slices of toasted and buttered homemade milk bread (not pictured here) come to the side. $40.
From left to right: steak tartare (with toast this time), crudo, shrimp cocktail.
A tender seafood boudin (sausage) of scallops, shrimp and ham is wrapped in nappa cabbage from Matheson’s Blue Goose Farm, grilled and topped with lardo (salted pork fat). A bright and tangy homemade ponzu sauce with yuzu and honey from Osprey Bluffs provides the dark base. $32.
Here’s the Dungeness Crab Cocktail: Steamed whole BC crab, picked and put back in the head with chili oil and butter. In the ramekin on the right we have tomalli sauce (or crab fat) with onion, vermouth and cream; the amber pool in the center is oil made from roasted crab shells. Talk about nose-to-tail cooking (or whatever the shellfish equivalent). Everything is garnished with Blue Goose chervil. $60.
Front and center are the fluffy Newfoundland lobster and ricotta dumplings. Lobster cream – cream infused with roasted lobster shells and flavored with vermouth, tarragon and fennel – is skimmed off at the last minute to coat the dumplings in an ethereal mousse. $45.
Here we have an East Coast halibut fillet with a superb Trout Roe Beurre Blanc. Fish bones are dried over the hearth to serve as the base for a classic Japanese dashi with kombu and katsuobushi (cured and smoked tuna loin). Butter is emulsified in the dashi for a silky smooth consistency, and it’s all combined with coral gems of trout roe, French tarragon, chives and green garlic. $50.
A hand-dipped Maine scallop doesn’t need much to taste its best. Here it’s grilled, enriched with a Sichuan compound butter and finished with a squeeze of lemon. Notice the orange roe on the left: a brackish, subtle part of the scallop that contrasts beautifully with its sweet flesh. The whole thing is garnished with lively bean sprouts. $40.
Szechuan amber chili oil, Cheese Boutique stracciatella, and lovely lacto-fermented white asparagus shingles are topped with Humboldt squid (that’s the giant kind) that has been grilled over hot coals, thinly sliced ​​and simply dressed with lemon zest and olive oil. $30.
Here we have the 20 oz bone-in strip loin, aged 30 days. All steaks are cooked over a mixture of ash, maple and birch before being brushed with “beef savory butter”: beef garum, black garlic, cremini mushrooms and brown butter tossed in an earthy, umami-rich sauce . $125.
In another rendition of a steak with impeccable sauce on a plate, we have a 9-ounce Ontario Filet Mignon, crusted with black pepper and served deliciously with pepper: that is, with a sauce demi-glace, shallot, green and black pepper, cream, and cognac. $95.
Here, Blue Goose radishes and hakurei turnips are vernal companions to a meat and fish meal, but they’re good enough to stand on their own. Beneath Matheson’s phone is a huge Yorkshire pudding made with Conestoga eggs and cooked in beef fat. Notice the gorgeous steak knives – they come out, conveniently, from each table’s personal cutlery drawer.
It’s key lime pie: a brown graham butter crust and condensed milk-lime custard topped with carefully pricked Swiss meringue and a vibrant sprinkle of lime zest. $12.
PSP’s ice cream sundae is a trio of homemade rhubarb, dark chocolate and buttermilk ice cream, topped with grated Valrhona 74% chocolate and a delicious caramelized milk crumble. $12.
Matheson, looking delighted as a punch.
The drinks

The wine list is centered around the friendly grape varieties of Old World producers: your Barolos, Burgundies, Bordeaux and Champagnes. (Read: no funky, murky natural wines here.) The cocktails also lean towards the classics. Expect soda-based highballs and spirits with thoughtful undertones, like a negroni with a split base of subtle Dolin red and spicier Cocchi vermouth.

Drinks at PSP are built or brewed, never shaken, as all that din would disturb the palatial serenity of the dining room. This makes building a cosmos somewhat tricky, but bartender Caileigh Crabbe has solved the riddle. She came up with a pre-dosed version of the classic cocktail, made with cranberry juice, lime, Dillon vodka and triple sec. The twist? Using milk, it is clarified like a consommé over the course of a few days, separating the solids from the lime and leaving behind a clean, clear, textured drink. $18.
This is a fairly classic Campari negroni, Dillon’s Dry 7 gin and red vermouth. It gets a touch of intrigue from a split base of subtle, traditional Dolin red vermouth and a spicier Cocchi Vermouth di Torino. $15.

“Everyone shines here,” says Matheson – and they shine, though you wouldn’t know it from the bare all-white facade. Designed by architect Omar Gandhi, who normally creates residential projects in the Maritimes, the almost monochromatic room is all warm Canadian maple, creamy leather and brass under a high ceiling of arched maple slats. Intentionally cathedral-like in its serene grandeur, the space contrasts the steakhouse’s traditionally hyper-masculine aura of red leather, dark tables and tuxedos. And take a look at the bathroom, where a custom sink representing Lake Erie is dotted with a pin marking Matheson’s home in Fort Erie.

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