Junction Eatery Stokes Local Pride
Naomi and I are being eyed by the locals. Eventually they let us in on why. It seems we are the subject of a bet. Do we live in the Junction or are we “foodies” from across town, who’ve come to share in the unique pleasures of Honest Weight? The stretch of Dundas Street both east and west of Keele has been transforming. Historically working class, now gentrifying, this arty neighbourhood has its share of galleries, furniture stores and restaurants. It’s the new Queen West...Ossington...Parkdale...etc.
Honest Weight is quaint. Which is a polite way to say that they’ve shoehorned a small restaurant and a retail fish market into a very, very small space. And the restaurant doesn’t take reservations, so you come early on a Saturday night, or you wait, perhaps taking in the galleries and bars to be paged when your table is ready. The service is homey and genuine. They juggle tables to make everyone fit, but in our case they made every effort to give us a great table, even when it meant that it impacted their ability to seat larger groups. That made us feel special, and that goes a long way.
Tables are necessarily close; that’s how we came to know we were the subject of the “bet”. We chatted with the locals who filled us in on the gelateria down the block and were proud that this small spot was bringing in people from across the city.
So like the space, the menu is small and specialized. But the food is both interesting and delicious and, of course, exclusively fish and seafood focused. There’s a real effort to source locally - which extends to shrimp raised in Ontario. Which I didn’t even know existed. At Honest Weight you can Pick Yer Fish and it will be served classically with potatoes and vegetables ($28) or you can order a simple pan-seared fish on a bun, served with mayo and slaw ($15).
But we decided to share a couple of appetizers and a main and none of the dishes disappointed us. The Mahi Mahi Ceviche ($15) presented wild Mahi Mahi (Dolphin Fish) from Florida, prepared with citrus and chiles; light and refreshing. One small point, the ceviche was served room temperature and perhaps should have been colder. That being said, the flavours were spot on. We also tried the smoked trout and tomato salad. It’s no longer on the menu and was perhaps seasonal. Served with a light vinaigrette and minced chives, the dish is about as “local” as you can get.
The showstopper, however is the Okonomiyaki ($16), a traditional Japanese dish. It is a savoury seafood pancake served with cabbage, Nagaimo yam and fresh fish. It is pan fried and topped with bonito flakes, cured fish, green onions and Okonomi sauce (ketchup, Worcestershire and soy sauces, sake, mirin, sugar etc.) The dish is intense and an exercise in balancing the umami savouriness of the Okonomi with the salty fish and the vaguely sweet pancake. It is what I imagine a Japanese hash would be. Like the husband at the next table who bet that we were foodies, not locals, we felt like winners for having tried Honest Weight. 2776 Dundas St. West. honestweight.ca