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RED FISH (890 College, at Delaware, 416-733-3474, redfishresto.com) Complete brunches for $28 per person, including, tax, tip and a $5 Caesar. Average main $14. Open for brunch Sunday 11 am to 3 pm; dinner Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday 5:30 to 10 pm, Thursday to Saturday 5:30 to 11 pm. Closed Monday, some holidays. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN
Sunday morning should always begin with Mahler's Fifth Symphony. And maybe a little Mamas and Papas.
That's exactly what you get at David Friedman and Jamie Duran's underappreciated Red Fish in addition to linen on the tables, fawning service and a carte featuring sustainable seafood, much of it Ocean Wise-certified. They even take reservations!
Brunch kicks off with the first of several $5 Bloody Caesars and a trio of wonderfully crumbly house-baked scones spread with tart rhubarb and sweet plum compotes. Friedman's fish cakes might better be described as fish pancakes than patties, their local pickerel offset with freshly squeezed lemon, while the kitchen's pork sausage (both $4) looks more like a slice of luncheon meat, though substantially tastier.
We could have gone with the former Fishbar chef's more conventional Bennys and omelettes and such, but we steer into more uncharted waters instead. Shards of house-smoked Pacific salmon ($16) come traditionally sided with terrific poppy-seed bagels, whipped goat cheese, a few tangy capers and slices of dead-of-winter tomato. Don't do carbs? Here's his gorgeous rainbow trout tartare ($15), complete with crispy skin as toast instead of bread, a tangle of peppery arugula and caper berries on the side.
Seems like everybody's doing down-home chicken and waffles, but only Red Fish offers waffles and duck wings ($13), theirs cooked à la confit, then briefly fried and glazed in apple butter. And who can resist a ridiculously delish hash laced with tender octopus and finished with runny poached eggs and a textbook hollandaise ($13)?
Just as we're polishing off the last of our shared banana bread French toast with peanut butter mousse ($10), the bill arrives with a pair of complimentary still-warm-from-the-oven pumpkin muffins and a plate of Gummy Bears - red fish, of course.