Steven Salm and Michael Steh Set to Bring Stellar Seafood to Downtown Core

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Proprietor Steven Salm – Photos by Yuli Scheidt

This past Thursday May 23rd a baker’s dozen of media types donned hard hats and got a very special tour of the spaces that will shortly be two unique dinning spaces in Toronto’s Downtown core. Proprietor Steven Salm, a New Yorker who is having a big love affair with Toronto, and Executive Chef Michael Steh have taken up residence in the Historic Dineen Building at 10 Temperance just off Yonge St. And they’ve been busy.

The tour began out on the street with some hearty chowder from The Chase‘s food truck. The chowder was rich and full of vibrant colours, elements evident in all the dish served up. From the delicate burnt orange of the oysters to the bright green of the peas; the flavours came through and blew away any notion of chowder being standard and boring.

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The Chase Chowder

The Chase food truck has been making the rounds in the Financial District this past week ahead of the restaurants’ opening. You’ll find it there tomorrow and at the NE corner of Yonge and Bloor on Thursday serving up Lobster Rolls among other eats. You can follow the truck’s adventures at ChaseTheChase.com

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Steven Salm & Exceutive Chef Michael Steh

With the warmth of the chowder in our bellies the real tour could begin. The group was escorted down a cobble stone lane-way to the rear of the Dineen Building. We were met with the skeleton and frame work that will become The Chase Fish & Oyster on the main floor and the custom elevator still under construction that will whisk guests up to the 5th floor for The Chase. Two separate restaurants, with their own kitchens and staff.

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Chef de Cuisine Nigel Finley, Steven Salm, Executive Chef Michael Steh

Stepping passed what will become a large open glass entryway, we entered The Chase Fish & Oyster. Large skylights let in beautiful afternoon light, cascading across exposed brick as far as the eye can see. Two Roman archways marked the entry way to the bar, yet to be constructed. Here the group was introduced to Chef de Cuisine Nigel Finley, known for his time spent at Bloom and more recently Catch. Chef Finely expressed his intentions to bring sustainably sourced seafood and local ingredients to The Chase Fish & Oyster and we got a taste of just what he meant by that.

Throughout the tour all those involved in the projects communicated the importance of sustainably sourced fish and seafood, as well as the need to bring humble and thoughtful seafood dinning to Toronto. When asked about whether either the ground floor space or the 5th floor restaurant would be open for lunch hours, proprietor Steven Salm said he was interested in doing so, but also thought that brunch could be a viable option. Possibly a risky venture in an area that all but becomes a ghost town when the office workers have gone for the day. It’s a refreshing notion and we look forward to seeing how The Chase tests those waters.

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Steven Salm outlining construction and décor plans

After a tour of the main floor where Mr. Salm outlined all the details of the planned décor, including a hook-shaped bar and nautical flags adorning the Cathedral-height ceilings, we were taken to a lower level. Planned for this space are private dinning areas, restrooms, but more importantly General Manager and Sommelier Anton Potvin‘s wine reserve. At first glance it all just looked like the catacombs under Paris but with a little imagination one started to see the potential. Past the new framework and electrical bits you could really see the charm of the Dineen Building at the forefront of all these plans.

To ascend to the 5th floor future guests will take the custom built elevator but for the purposes of this Hard Hat tour the group had to make use of the existing lift in the Dineen Building. Here we got to peek our heads into the newly opened Dineen Coffee Co. An impeccably beautiful space that perfectly melds modern needs with old bistro allure. A wonderful addition to the area, not unlike The Chase.

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Exceutive Chef Michael Steh in the future space of The Chase on the 5th floor

Once on the 5th floor we were greeted by floor-to-ceiling glass and what has to be one of the best views around. Being on the top floor has its advantages, such as the planned roof top patio, where guests can order from the bar without having to go inside, as the bar will traverse  both inside and out made possible by custom made windows.

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Lobster in avocado with seasonal dressings

The structure is key to these two restaurants. The separate kitchens and staff ensure the spaces give different experiences and define them as different presences while both focusing on fresh, innovative, seasonal dishes. Both are grounded in the Chase Team’s philosophy of upscale dining that’s thoughtful, approachable, and social. Offering New Canadian food, using the techniques lured from the Italian, French, Asian and Latin American traditions.

As GM and Sommelier for the two restaurants, Anton Potvin stressed that while there will always be room to play he will focus on solid wine choices and that the two spaces will share a liquor license, allowing them to pull from the same reserves.

Opening this Summer The Chase and The Chase Fish & Oyster are set to take on those old-hat, preconceived notions about dinning in Downtown Toronto and what a seafood joint in this town looks like.

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