Recently we were invited to try out LAMESA FILIPINO KITCHEN, a relatively new comer to the Queen Street West and Bathurst area in Toronto. Nestled along busy Queen Street filled with amazing decor shops and cool clothing shops is this cozy restaurant. Walking in I noticed high-top tables and chairs filled with weekend brunchers. It’s got an easy relaxed feel. I started wondering if this was the former space for Mr. Pong’s Famous Chinese restaurant owned by my friend’s family for years… or maybe it took the spot of Way Cool Tattoos where I had my first (okay, and only tattoo) done, or maybe Rosebuds?
Hubby and I started reminiscing about the area. We use to live on King St. West and loved how we could walk everywhere. Queen Street West has always been a great community of great finds from the Japanese Paper Place to Vena’s Roti Shop. We use to be regulars at Terroni’s and Future Bakery was our go-to for fresh bread. Some places have changed but it still feels the same to us. We visit this area from time to time and love wandering our old ‘hood.
My foodie friend Mary suggested that we go check out LAMESA as she knew we were love eating at restaurants with progressive chefs at the helm. Toronto is good like that and there are so many talented chefs. Chef Rudy Boquila is no stranger to the kitchen and he’s doing something pretty special here bringing the two cultures together. And for us, eating is more than an activity to fill your belly…it is an experience. When friends visit the city, they often comment on how amazingly diverse this city is especially when it comes to food. Not only can you eat your way around the world here but you can eat really well!
Peeking at LAMESA’s menu prior to our visit so I knew this wasn’t going to be your traditional Filipino fare. “Our chefs are Filipino but they all have their own style of cooking,” says our host. “It’s Filipino recipes that the chefs love but the dishes are given an update.”
The restaurant isn’t actually new. It’s been there for almost 2 years but the menu has evolved and let’s just say, it has arrived. The dinner menu had me drooling and the brunch menu is one that has enough of a selection to make you want to go back for more. I had heard that the Crispy Pata is a MUST TRY and it’s available on both menus. If you love pork then this is made for you. Even the menu boldly states “this is what dreams are made of.”
The Pata is pig trotter that is fried to crispy perfection. It’s meant to be shared and so, so delicious! Similar to chinese roast pork only you are served the meat on bone and you do the carving at the table. It’s not salty like chinese roast pork. The Pata comes with three side dipping sauces: house made hot sauce; garlic soy sauce; and a dipping vinegar. A garnish using Calamansi fruit had us curious. This tiny citrus fruit reminds me of a tiny key lime and the first time we had tried this and now I’m a little obsessed.
Since we’re talking about brunch the chefs have created their own twist to the all-time favourite, Eggs Benedict. Eggs Josephine is their twist to a Canadian tradition and the dish is named after Chef Rudy’s mom. The poached eggs are served with bagoong hollandaise and perched on top house made biscuits. Bagoong is a traditional Filipino condiment made with shrimp paste.
We loved the Halo Halo Sisig and Garlic Rice. This chicken, pork and beef is topped with a fried egg and served on a hot skillet which you mix together just before eating. Garlic rice is mixed right in as well…just make sure everyone with you has a spoonful too!
The French Toast Turon is more of a dessert as it’s deliciously sweet. Turon is the method of how the pastry is folded around the filling. The Canadian-Filipino mash up dish at LAMESA is stuffed with sweet plantain, jackfruit syrup and coconut whip. A definite winner to finish off the meal!
While we’re use to individual plates on traditional brunch menus I would suggest you share as many dishes as you can to get a sampling of the flavours here. Totally worth it! I need to get back there again to try the Pork & Pancakes.
Prices are reasonable with each brunch entree around $10 each. The Crispy Pata is a little more and fun to share as well. Note that it takes a little longer to cook this so order it as soon as you sit down. The server will remind you of this.
LAMESA FILIPINO KITCHEN is located at 669 Queen Street West (Toronto)
Open for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm
Dinner Tuesdays to Sunday from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm
NOTE: They tell me there is half-price patas on Wednesday nights! RUN!
Also follow them on Facebook as they will announce any special events and visiting DJs.