What metaphorical pearls await inside this unassuming, also metaphorical oyster of a storefront?
Once home to Mark Cutrara's Cowbell, the currently papered-over storefront at 1564 Queen West is about to be reborn as Geraldine, a seafood resto with a twist. NOW spoke to owner/chef Peter Ramsay amidst the rubble of renovation.
Any relation to vulgar TV chef Gordon Ramsay?
None what so ever, thankfully.
Did the devil make you name your restaurant after Flip Wilson's drag alter ego Geraldine?
It's my grandmother's name, actually. A number of people have made that reference but I don't think my grandmother would catch it.
When are you planning to launch?
We hope to begin previews June 15 and have a firm opening in July. We'll be doing dinner to start and adding afternoon tea on the weekends because I am categorically opposed to brunch.
Join the club. Since you recently worked as chef de cuisine at Sidecar as well as sous alongside Cutrara at Cowbell, should we expect more locavore?
It's important to me to ensure that the space remains part of the community. I want people to feel that there was a passing of the torch. I'll continue to work with small and local suppliers but I want to shift the focus away from meat and onto seafood, to explore sustainability from a different angle.
Have you kept all that hideous flocked wallpaper?
Everything's gone except the floor.
You've also managed the kitchen at The Sister and tended bar at Mezzrow's, so you obviously know the nabe. Doesn't Parkdale already have enough restaurants?
There's certainly folks that feel that way. But I think Torontonians want to go to a neighbourhood, get out of the car or off the streetcar and wander around a bit before they make the decision where they're going to eat rather than have a specific destination in mind. Look at Baldwin Village. That's why people go there. I think there's room for that to develop at this end of Queen.