Toronto is a great city with a vast amount of culinary diversity. Almost every single ethnicity is represented in the arts, culture and cuisine from one end of the city to the other. Veering away from designated “towns” like Little Italy, Koreatown or the Danforth it is not uncommon to find an Italian restaurant beside a Mexican cantina down the road from a German gastropub.
At Lamesa Filipino Kitchen on Queen West, owner Les Sabilano and Chef Daniel Cancino introduce diners to the much misunderstood cuisine of tropical isles and family-centric gatherings. With fresh perspective they create dishes that make Filipino food seem less scary to newcomers and brighten the palates of local transplants.
The restaurant space is typical to most edge of Parkdale establishments. A large friendly communal table awaits diners as they first enter, battered wood with bench seating and a perfect people watching view of the street. The narrowness of the restaurant then draws the eye down past the “tiki” esque style bar and into a more intimate dining area with stunning stain glass ceiling fans, rich medium dark wood tones and crisp pale walls. Take some time to enjoy the artwork throughout the space (including the bathrooms), curated from up and coming Filipino creatives. Then dive into the mind blowing menu.
Don’t let the prettiness of the visually stunning cocktails fool you; each and everyone packs a punch. Anise flavoured dark rum, kalamansi (lime) juice and ginger beer resembles a perfect Dark and Stormy while the Boracay Beach takes you back to the sand and surf with flavours of dark rum, coconut rum, banana liqueur and house made peach liqueur.
Light dishes or snacks can start your meal off with citrusy Tuna Kinilaw, a tuna ceviche atop a coconut guacamole, Beet Maalat Salad; a tangy, salty salad of beets, white anchovy, salted egg and Thai basil or you can dig into a plate of crispy, corned beef lumpia with the requisite house made banana ketchup.
Vegetarians can dine happily along their omnivore friends with outstanding options like Talong Salad, a charred eggplant with adobo caponata, salted egg, frisee and crème fraiche or Cauliflower Ginatann; a four way dish the has cauliflower roasted, steamed, raw and pureed.
For those wanting a little more meat on their bones can’t go wrong with the comforting beef bulalo, a winter weather bowl of short ribs, root vegetables and bone marrow all in a gingery broth. Or those more adventurous souls can try the dinuguan, a plate of octopus, pork cheek, apple, maple puto, calamansi and pigs blood jus.
Brightly coloured desserts are perfect end to any meal and the Ube Leche Flan is a smooth treat with its vibrant Purple yam (ube) custard.
One of the best things about the city is the variety we offer our guests and residents. And because of that choice we can try cuisines we would never have a chance to in other cities. Different doesn’t have to mean scary. Different can mean delicious.