Lamesa Filipino Restaurant

Lamesa Photo 1

Tuna Kinilaw

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.

 Beet Maalat Salad

Beet Maalat Salad

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.

Pork and Octopus Dinuguan

Pork and Octopus Dinuguan

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.

Lamesa Photo 4

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.

Corned Beef Lumpias

Corned Beef Lumpias

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.

Talong Salad

Talong Salad

Cauliflower Ginataan

Cauliflower Ginataan

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.

Beef Bulalo

Beef Bulalo

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.

Ube Leche Flan

Ube Leche Flan

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.

Kamayan Feast : Lamesa Filipino Kitchen

Kamayan Feast Drinks

How often to you get to eat with your hands?  And I don’t mean eating foods like pizza, wings or canapes where eating any other way would raise an eyebrow or two. I’m also not referring to at not-to-be-named knights and jousting establishment; or when you were five. I mean eating a meal generally reserved for plates and cutlery.  A multi-course, multi-dish extravaganza. For all those who have answered “Recently” then I’m disappointed I haven’t been invited along.  For everyone else, let me tell you what you are missing.

Kamayan is the Filipino way of eating with your hands; a tradition revered generation after generation of families coming together over a wonderful meal served on banana leaves and just waiting to be pinched with your fingers.

As with everything they do at Lamesa Filipino Kitchen co-owner Les Sabilano and chefs Rudy Boquila and Joash Dy try to bring the tastes of their native country to city diners while interpreting it in their own unique “Torontonian” way.

What started out as an occasional, then a monthly event has now grown in popularity so much so that Lamesa now offers a Kamayan feast every Sunday for anyone to try.  Catering to group sizes as little as two people the team behind this amazing menu present a feast not just for your taste buds but as Chef Rudy points out “a meal that includes all your senses”.

Without giving away all the dramatics behind their feast I will say that like a live performance art piece you have no idea where it is going until it is all laid out. A culinary masterpiece of mango salad, smoked fish, adobe chicken wings, lettuce cups, braised oxtail and so much more.  Each fingerful unearths new flavor combinations totally unexpected. But in the end the result is a beautiful, senses-shattering portrait of these three’s connection to their homeland.

Please enjoy the following photos of this feast unfolding.  And call and make reservations right away.  As gorgeous as this meals looks, it tastes so much better.

Lamesa Filipino Kitchen

669 QUEEN STREET WEST
TORONTO, ON, M6J 1E6 CANADA
(647) 346-2377
 
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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