First Look: The Happy Hooker, a new Dundas West sandwich shop where seafood reigns supreme
By Karolyne Ellacott
A Pacific cod sandwich, $9 (Images: Karolyne Ellacott)
The Happy Hooker opened earlier this week, and it’s already been getting plenty of attention — and not just because of its, uh, frisky moniker. Perched at Dundas and Claremont, the new joint dishes out fresh picks from the deep blue sea, including fish burgers, fish ‘n’ chips and (how could they not?) fish tacos.
Owner and chef Attilio Pugliese cut his teeth at various locales around town, including Queen Margherita Pizza, before opting to branch out on his own with the now-closed Italian joint Tavolino. When things didn’t work out there, Pugliese decided to test out new waters, focusing this time on fishier things.
“People are moving away from meat-heavy diets,” he says. “Fish are a sign of things to come.”
Currently, the compact menu focuses on quick eats like the marlin burger ($9). Featuring two patties, the burger comes with house slaw and avocado. Nestled into a white Golden Wheat Bakery bun, the whole affair is finished with some pineapple salsa and lemon aioli.
In terms of tacos, Pugliese is currently hooked on the Cali Baja ($3.50), which conjures up fond childhood memories for him. Based around a mix of basa, grouper and cod, the taco is jacked up with cheddar, lime crema and tomatoes, with a pile of guac topping it all off. And not all is for the piscivore: a vegetarian taco ($3) comes with tofu, lime crema, corn salsa and cabbage.
Meanwhile, the playful shrimp corn dog ($6 for two) is Pugliese’s take on a lobster variant he fell for while down south. Covered in a cornmeal and buttermilk batter, the dogs are fried and served with a trio of house sauces: cocktail sauce, lemon aioli and spicy dill mustard.
Goods are sourced from Osler Fish Terminal and various spots in Kensington, and freshness remains key — a freezer isn’t even on site.
With a liquor license on the way, all that’s needed now is something for dessert. We’re thinking Glory Hole Doughnuts fits the bill.
The Happy Hooker, 887 Dundas St. W., 647-769-4243