Snug Harbour Seafood Bar & Grill - Hook, Line, or Sinker?

The Place
Snug Harbour Seafood Bar and Grill.

The Good
Snug Harbour is located on the best piece of commercial property in the southern Mississauga. It is situated in the heart of Port Credit overlooking Lake Ontario and has a great view of the city's symbolic light house. It is surrounded by a marina with a pier that extends about a quarter of a kilometre onto Lake Ontario.

Snug Harbour is always busy - and warm days almost guarantee a wait for patio seating, but that's okay…since the recent reno's to the space. The bar was beautified and extended to fit about 20-25 people. I'll take that and a vodka martini while I wait!

Another great asset to the newly renovated restaurant is the modernization of the interior, including a new fireplace lounge area and booth seating. Snug Harbour feels more welcoming and open, and boasts good Fung Shui. It also has a great vibe and energy that fills the room (and managed to convince me it's not so bad to be seated on the inside). It also draws a diverse crowd of diners from young to old, families and couples.

Snug Harbour is also independently owned - which is refreshing in a city overpopulated with corporate chain restaurants.

Aesthetically speaking, this place is a hit!

When my giant pager lit up and buzzed to tell me that our patio seating is ready, I thought “Perfect”! Another plus was that our server was extremely knowledgeable, hospitable and provided timely service with a smile.


The Bad
According to the Snug Harbour website, "the only thing we overlook is the water". I beg to differ. Snug Harbour, despite the recent overhaul, overlooks the food.

For starters, our entrees took about 30 minutes and the resto was only operating at 50 percent capacity.

I was disappointed that a restaurant that underwent a major renovation didn't pay more attention to the quality of food they produce. I mean, we are talking about a restaurant/bar in a prime location in Port Credit - and one that could potentially be in the middle of a downright war between potential buyers if it went up for sale (between the seasoned restaurateurs, chefs, spa owners, private clubs, builders, and anyone looking to get into the business of food, leisure, luxury, and/or living with a picturesque view).

That alone is a lot to live up to.

My friends and I started with two dozen oysters on the half shell (selections and pricing vary). The issue I had with this starter was that the fixings were b-o-r-i-n-g. It included a traditional seafood sauce, horseradish, couple of lemons and a bottle of Tabasco sauce.

With seafood resto's on the hot trend list for 2013 and popping up all over Toronto, I expected that the fixings for the oysters would at the least be made in-house, and that there would be more to choose from than just the standard condiments.

Compare that to some seafood restos that are gaining traction in T.O., such as The Chase Fish & Oyster restaurant - a place that features an extensive seafood menu and raw oyster condiments that include a fish and oyster hot sauce, mignonette, a cocktail sauce and a whopping seven house made "fancy sauces".

Snug Harbour has a great opportunity to really stand out and the oyster fixings are an easy and missed point.

Another big miss is that you will find frozen fish on the menu (as confirmed by our server after our meal). A seafood bar and grill serving (some) frozen seafood is just…sacrilegious. One cannot claim to be a seafood restaurant and serve anything frozen other than the ice cream and ice for cocktails.

With the amount of turns happening at this restaurant, there is no sensible excuse to serve frozen entrees. The menu is a miss and the food quality to cost is out of line.

I had the Haddock at $22, a cornmeal crusted piece of frozen fish accompanied by a tomato salsa and fingerling potatoes. It was served in a puddle of mis-matched demi-glace. The fish was dry and there lacked a harmonious balance of flavours.

Next dish was the Canadian Whitefish at $29. Presentation lacked finesse and the sauce took over the entire dish. The fish was stuffed with east coast scallops, blue crab, black tiger shrimp and baked in a lobster cream sauce - all of which looks great on paper - but all I could taste was the cream sauce. The fish was swimming in it. If you're hungry, then this will fill you up. But I would much prefer quality over quantity - especially at such a high price point.

In fact, Snug Harbour entrees range between $22 to $36. The Chase Fish & Oyster entrees range from $11 to $30 and sides run $7-$11. Even with the sides prices separately, you'd be looking at the most between $22 to $41 a person.

The feeling of being exploited over the charming locale of Snug Harbour and its gorgeous view doesn’t sit well with me.


The Verdict
Food should always be the main event that brings people back to a restaurant and I can't say that I would return to Snug Harbour for the food.

The aesthetics of Snug Harbour is completely incongruent to the menu, but perhaps the people in charge know that no matter what they do, people will come back for the view and cocktails.

Snug Harbour is missing a lot on the food side and should step up to the plate and give the people of Mississauga the bragging rights of a seafood restaurant done right or give the place up to a restaurateur that will do Port Credit justice.

A big miss in the food category, however I would come back to enjoy the view and a couple of drinks.

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