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“Average food, average service, strange policy.”
Review of Pearl Diver

Pearl Diver
Ranked #130 of 8,650 Restaurants in Toronto
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $16 - $36
Cuisines: Canadian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Dinner, Reservations
Neighborhood: Downtown
Toronto, Canada
Level 3 Contributor
21 reviews
11 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Average food, average service, strange policy.”
Reviewed January 25, 2014

I have heard for a few years now that this is the place to go for seafood and oysters in Toronto but I can assure you, there are many, many better places. I went there with a group of people in December (6 people to be exact, which is important later in this review). I always assumed it was a somewhat fancy restaurant but when I arrived, it seemed to me to be no more than a glorified pub with an expensive menu. I noticed walking in that they had food items written in chalk on a pillar and saw fish and chips. I looked over the menu and when nothing immediately caught my eye, I asked about the fish and chip (which was not on the menu the waitress handed me) and she said they haven't served that in two years. I just kind of thought to myself, "Maybe you should update the menu written on the pillar" but just ended up ordering one of the fish dishes. The food was okay, nothing special. I don't think anyone in the group was blown away by their meal. I also noticed the wait staff standing over by the bar eating their own food, which I always find to be quite unprofessional in any restaurant. Nevertheless, it's not a deal-breaker. After dinner was done, we got the bill only to see an 18% gratuity added on the bill. The slightly unprofessional waitress informed us AFTER she brought the bill and AFTER we asked her about it that they add automatically add a gratuity for groups of 6 people or more. 6 people??? To me that's a pretty standard number of people to eat at a restaurant together. I could see adding a gratuity for a group of 10 or more (with notification) but 6?? It's not like we wouldn't have tipped her anyways but seeing a gratuity slapped in front of you with no notice is offensive to me. It is not written anywhere on their menu. It's not on their website. They could have at least told us when we sat down or when she brought the bill. But she just brought the bill and we had to ask why we were charged 18%. And to be honest, her non-chalant service probably barely deserved a 10% tip but she probably would have got her 15%. In any case, they can take their non-fish and chips menu and 18% automatic gratuity and shove it where the sun don't shine. Will never return here and will never recommend.

  • Visited December 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Brendan C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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240 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
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  • Any
English first
Toronto, Canada
Level 6 Contributor
247 reviews
179 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 80 helpful votes
“Variety of good options - oysters, as well as other seafood”
Reviewed December 30, 2013

Starfish is definitely one of the better oyster houses in the Toronto area. The oysters are fresh and good, and other menu options are definitely interesting. Keep in mind that the menu is limited, and we would have preferred more options for both oysters and other food items. That said, for those specific items that were ordered, we were pleased with the selections. In addition purportedly being the only North American restraint to serve Irish oysters, other eastern Canada options were quite nice. The toasted oysters were also very good. The ambiance is nice, but not necessarily romantic; I would choose this location for a casual dinner, rather than a special evening out on the town. All things considered, there are probably better places – either nicer or with more interesting food options, but returning to Starfish is still an option.

  • Visited December 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Chris B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Florida
Level 3 Contributor
22 reviews
9 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Friendly and Excellent”
Reviewed December 7, 2013

Excellent food, friendly and caring staff, safe place to have top quality oysters or a succulent Angus steak

  • Visited December 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Adi_Teu
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Don't Take My Plate”
Reviewed December 1, 2013

I'm not sure what cues the servers were taking but they tried in three separate occasions to take my plate before I was finished. Never felt so rushed, despite later evening reservation. My steak was undercooked (which is guess is better than overcooked, & to be fair it's not their specialty), the sardines raw. The wine was excellent. That's it.

  • Visited November 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Karen B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Andover, Massachusetts
Level 5 Contributor
72 reviews
36 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“Fabulous fish in a cozy place”
Reviewed November 25, 2013 via mobile

Called in here from the nearby Holiday Inn on a short 2 day visit to Toronto. Our experience on Sunday was so good we went back on Monday! We had excellent oysters, including fresh Galway Bay oysters flown in on Monday. The lake bass, salmon and trout were excellent and the lamb ragout was superb. Starfish has strong Irish linkages and we loved the atmosphere. We tested out the dessert menu on Monday and enjoyed garam masala creme brûlée and sticky toffee pudding, both beautifully made. We would come back to Toronto just for this restaurant.

Helpful?
Thank CabinteelyFlyer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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