Lamesa Filipino Kitchen

Toronto is a great city with a vast amount of culinary diversity. This past week I was invited to taste the new menu from Les Sabilano and Chef Rudy Boquila at their Queen West restaurant Lamesa Filipino Kitchen.  Situated on the same block as notables like Lot St. and Lisa Marie this small space draws on huge flavor and unique concepts to bring a little known branch of Asian food to the city. Way beyond the requisite potluck noodle dish pancit, Chef Rudy mingles the memories of family sit downs with the demand for nouveau ideas and Canadian twists.  Most telling of his concept is it’s parallel of the space in which it is served.  A large friendly communal table awaits diners as they first enter, battered wood with high stools and a perfect people watching view of the street. The narrowness of the restaurant then draws eyes 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. A bit of home, a bit of fun and a lot of warmth.

Lamesa Filipino Kitchen

Lamesa Filipino Kitchen

While upbeat high tempo music played from local Filipino musicans Datu with the occasional guest spot from the chef himself we were offered up a tasting spanning across brunch, lunch, dinner and snacks with an amazing Halo Halo bar for dessert.  An ambition undertaking but a perfect showcase of everything this Chef believes in.

Crispy Pata

Crispy Pata

While introductions were made and drinks began to be poured guests were offered their first plate of the day Crispy Pata.  Three pieces of deep fried pork trotter each accompanied with pickled radish and a trio of homemade dipping sauces; spicy Lamesa brand hot sauce, a firecracker chili vinegar and a sweeter soy.  Each paired exquisitely with the salty, greasy pata and I would be disappointed if any of the sauces were not offered with the dish.

French Toast Turon

French Toast Turon

A great take on a breakfast classic, sweet plaintain is wrapped in egg dipped bread then futher enveloped in a crispy spring roll and topped with jackfruit syrup and coconut whip cream.  Crispy, flaky outside, a mushy banana like center and a lightly sweetened syrup and cream made this a slightly less decadent version of the Canadian classic yet still a dish that holds it’s own on a brunch menu.

Pork and Pancakes

Pork and Pancakes

For those who prefer a more sweet and savory mid morning treat this pork and pancake dish is a perfect balance.  Pork is braised in Sarsi, a Filipino version of a sarsaparilla based root beer, shredded and then served atop corn and coconut pancakes and finished again with jackfruit syrup and coconut cream.

Lumpia

Lumpia

This ground pork filled spring roll served with banana ketchup was the only dish I did not enjoy.  Slightly resembling sausage rolls I expected bigger flavour from the meat filling and was under impressed by the ketchup.  As I was busy taking notes and photographing the food I will admit I got around to tasting them after they had gone almost completely cold which I believe played a big reason into my dislike.  That being said I would definitely give them another chance; just making sure I try them piping hot.

Arroz Caldo

Arroz Caldo

This dish came as no surprise to me.  Having first tried it at the Recipe for Change event several weeks ago it was the one item I was most looking forward to.  A rice porridge with bits of chicken, fish sauce, crispy garlic, crispy kale and a cigar of deep fried chicken skin I was not disappointed.  A belly warming dish that I’m sure came straight from someones parents or grandparents kitchen table.

Bicol Express Fries

Bicol Express Fries

While I would enjoy them both at different times of the day this was my absolutely favorite dish next to french toast.  Surprising since I almost didn’t take a second bite. Pork, coconut milk, chilies and bagoong, a fermented shrimp condiment, is cooked together and poured on top of perfectly crispy, chip truck quality french fries.  A strong coconut milk taste with each bite I took the more I enjoyed the combination of the salty greasy fries and creamy sauce.

Fried Chicken Adobo

Fried Chicken Adobo

Highly touted by Chef Rudy as the best fried chicken in the city he uses it in a twist of this classic Filipino dish of Adobo chicken. While I haven’t eat my way across Toronto when it comes to fried chicken I will agree it is really well done at Lamesa with a crisp similar to Chinese Jar Do wings and a nutty sauce of pureed garlic and adobo reduction.

Ginataan Gulay

Ginataan Gulay

Vegetables definitely played a background role to the bulk of Filipino food yet here Chef Rudy makes sure our vegetarian friends have an amazing flavor experience at the restaurant.  Roasted squash, beans, bok choy, eggplant and tofu are gently cooked in coconut milk and served here with pureed purple yam and squash while on the main menu it is served with rice.  Lot’s of creamy flavors and crisp textures to enjoy in this dish.

Halo Halo

Halo Halo

While the menu offers a couple tantalizing desserts for anyone’s sweet tooth Lamesa decided to go out on a high note with a wonderful Halo Halo bar.  Toppings like coconut strings, sweet purple yam, cornflakes, cookie crumbs, sugar, palm fruit and jackfruit were available for buko pandan ice cream and shaved ice.  Finished with carnation milk this is dessert with no middle ground.  There is a lot going on here that could be off putting with it’s varying textures of crispy cereal, jelly-like fruit and crunchy ice with spoonfuls of very sweet to delicately creamy.  Personally I loved it and imagine how wonderful it would be on a dry hot summer day in our city.

Lamesa Filipino Kitchen

A great meal is always rounded out with perfect beverages and this evening was no different.  The evening started with the Lolo Cool J.  A combination of Maker’s Mark bourbon, ginger, pineapple and cinnamon syrup, lemon juice and ginger ale. Finished with candied pineapple that absorbed all of the liquids and demanded to be eaten with a fork.  The shandy of San Miguel beer and calamansi juice secured itself as my new summer refreshment and the aperitif, a concoction of mango juice, malibu rum and bailey’s called the Tita Baby was a perfect finale to dessert.

It’s unfortunate that it took me so long to discover this hidden gem of a cuisine yet I could not have been introduced to it any better then with the innovative concepts from Lamesa Filipino Kitchen and it’s undeniably talented chef Rudy Boquila.  Flavors from all ends of the spectrum come together in perfect harmony with a homegrown feel but modern design.

Lamesa Filipino Kitchen

669 Queen Street West
Toronto, On
M6J 1E6
(647)346-2377
info@lamesafilipinokitchen.com
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