I found myself at Loka on this rainy Saturday night when a good friend of mine and I were headed out for a long overdue catch up sesh. She suggested Loka and coincidentally it had popped up on my newsfeed as a newly opened resto in the city. The stars were aligned.
If you haven’t heard of Loka yet you probably will over the next few weeks as it slowly starts to make the rounds on all the big name blogs and news sites. I’m still small town but I’m in the know! I learned that Loka is the brain child of chef Dave Mottershall who was previously at The Chase after which he opened Loka Snacks at the back of Hi-Lo bar in Queen East. He sought out the public’s help through Kickstarter and opened up his dream restaurant Loka, now on Queen West.
As I walked into the humble 32-seat space the first thing that caught me right away was the instant warmth. There is nothing over the top in term of decor or ambience, but the small subtle details, the warm smiles, the candle light really go a long way.
Photo Credit: Post City
My favourite detail was a mosaic photo of a pig made up of the names of people who supported the opening. How adorable.
We were greeted by a lovely woman named Ayngelina who kindly kept us company while we waited for our table. She gave us some background on the restaurant, the chef and what we could expect from the menu which is described as a discovery of Canadian cuisine. I won’t lie, when I looked at the menu there were at least a handful of names and ingredients that I hadn’t heard of. Luckily our cute as a button waiter Duncan took us through everything and recommended his favourites to us.
On the chopping block for the evening:
– Charred Brocoli, peach rye bbq sauce, kimchi mayo
– Lonza, spruce aioli, hazelnut chicharron praline
– Crispy Perch, pickled watermelon, remoulade, arugula
– Pheasant and pig ear ragout, aligot potatoes, whey carrots
See what I mean about the names? The other thing I should mention about the menu is that its constantly changing. Based on what ingredients are freshest at the time or what is in season, that what will appear on your table.
The first dish that came out is the one pictured above which is the Lonza described as a prosciutto but fattier. I mean how can you say no? This dish lasted about all of 5 minutes.
Next was the crispy perch which was delicious but not my favourite of the night. I’m extremely picky about my fish and typically prefer a fillet without any skin. Although it was perfectly crispy the accompanying flavours didn’t really make it a memorable one for me. But god damn the presentation!
Next up was my favourite dish of the night – the broccoli. I mean if all greens came in this form as a child I’d be a different human. At the end of the day all of the nutritional value is probably gone because of the deep fried batter but the crispy, crunchy and just a little spicy taste totally makes up for it. I could have had the whole plate to myself.
And last but not least the dish that I was most fearful of trying – the pheasant and pig ear ragout. I’m always willing to try anything once but more likely if the gory details are kept a secret. I have to say this one surprised me. Its the meal you crave when its a cold, rainy day and you crave a hug in the form of comfort food. A rich, flavourful, meaty stew on a bed of soft mashed potatoes and carrots. We licked the plate clean.
So my overall verdict – the food was by far the most creative and well thought out that I have ever experienced and the presentation was out of this world. My pictures don’t do it justice. The dishes are that much more special because Dave has a no-waste, nose-to-tail philosophy so you can expect dishes to have small tweaks and changes every time you come back. Will Loka be on my regular rotation? Maybe not. Will it be highly recommended by me and visited again? Definitely.