UPDATE: Closed - Deadfish Cafe: Weird Name, Wonderful Food
From the rising heat of fresh chilis, to the cheesy two-punch of feta and mozzarella to the grilled chicken, loads of pineapple and fresh-cut green onions and cilantro, Deadfish Cafe and Lounge's Pollo Piccante is a pizza perfection.
UPDATE: Deadfish Café sadly closed in early 2013. Chef/owner Robin Maharaj is expected to open a new restaurant in 2014 in Winnipeg.
Osborne Village's Deadfish Cafe is an oddly charming and quirky establishment that defies categorization, just like the chef/owner Robin Maharaj. It fits right in with this trendy ‘hood, attracting a range of customers from hipsters to discerning foodies. Large street side windows offer diners some prime viewing of the area’s hustle and bustle.
Like every great menu, ingredients and flavour profiles are informed by the chef’s personal history and life, inside and outside of the kitchen.
Maharaj is Trinidadian/Canadian. Jerk, cumin and cilantro play starring roles on the eclectic menu, which includes salads, sandwiches, noodles, local seafood, mussels and thin-crust pizzas.
Maharaj has a nice touch in the kitchen. His dishes are interesting and unexpected. He favours Caribbean flavours yet weaves that sensibility throughout his menu without hitting diners over the head with it.
Lettuce wraps are offered with jerk chicken alongside wild mushroom and spicy crab.
Aloo pies are the Deadfish version of a Trinidadian perogy or empanada, loaded with cumin-roasted potatoes and a side of spicy tamarind chutney.
Maharaj has a way with Manitoba pickerel. The pickerel parm sandwich is an Italian favourite with regional sensibility. Panko-crusted walleye fillets are pan-fried and loaded into a roasted garlic panino with oodles of melted mozzarella and spread with fresh roasted roma sauce. It's finished with fresh basil, lemon and grated grana podano cheese.
The pollo piccante pizza is a medley of grilled chicken, chunks of juicy pineapple and heaps of fresh green onion and cilantro on an extra crispy, thin crust pizza. Slices of jalepeno hide underneath a thick canvas of melted mozzarella and feta and deliver hits of wicked and wonderful heat. Try to eat just one slice. You won't want to share even a bite.
You get your money and more than a meal's worth at Deadfish Cafe. Deadfish delivers generous portions on all counts.
Meanwhile, Maharaj is an interesting and affable chap who can often be seen wandering the restaurant, chatting with diners. He loves to talk about food and wine and is an engaging and interesting host. He enters and exits conversations with ease and doesn't overstay his welcome.