Filipino cuisine should be more popular than it is. It combines Southeast Asian flavours with Polynesian, Spanish, Chinese, and North American influence in a familiar and comforting way. Sweet, sour, and salty flavours are abundant in Filipino cuisine.
Lamesa Filipino Kitchen has been serving up these familiar yet unique flavours to Toronto since 2012, and is currently one of the only modern and licensed Filipino restaurants in Canada. Recently they brought in a new head chef, Daniel Cancino, who had previously worked at Lamesa as a line-cook. Cancino grew up in the Philippines and is elevating his favourite childhood dishes at Lamesa (which means table in Tagalog) while incorporating modern influences. We had the opportunity to try the majority of the new fall menu that he has developed.
The meal starts of with a stellar cocktail, The Boracay Breezey, named for Boracay island. Incorporating house-made peach liquor and topped with an edible flower, this cocktail tastes exactly how I imagine a tropical island feels; fresh, sweet, and smooth.
The part of the menu we sample from next is “gulay” which translates to veggies. These dishes range from salads and vegetable sides to more substantial dishes like pacit, a traditional noodle dish. The Talong salad combines charred eggplant with salted egg, eggplant caponata, adobo seasoning, and creme fraiche. This salad converted me to an eggplant lover, seeing how eggplant can really shine with vinegar and spice.