Loka, Toronto

If you’ve followed Loka’s story from the beginning, you’d feel quite emotional when walking into their brick and mortar location at 620 Queen Street West. Chef Dave Mottershall began this venture as the infamous @chef_rouge on Instagram posting incredibly appetizing food porn for his many,many followers. His pop-up at Hi-Lo on Queen East was such a success that it became a regular feature of the bar. Cue extremely successful Kickstarter campaign, some blood, sweat and tears going into renovations and voila: Loka opens its doors to a hungry Toronto.

A couple weeks after their official opening date, we headed there for an impromptu Thursday evening meal out on the town. Lucky for us, it turned out to be THE meal of 2015! The ambiance of the restaurant was comfortable and relaxed, the staff enthusiastic and the food was out-of-this-world good!

The decor of the place is pretty simple; a few photographs lining the otherwise bare walls with a large but not overbearing bar situated right in the middle of the room. Some would consider it to be sparse but it is just enough to draw you in and direct your eyes toward the open kitchen; the focal point of the whole restaurant. This is where you can see Chef Mottershall and his talented sous chef Jesse Brown in their element. Don’t leave Loka without taking a peak at the curing fridge located just to the left of the kitchen.

We sat at the chef’s table and ate the entire menu. This costs $100 per person and is worth every penny, however, if you’re in the mood for anything less, sit anywhere else in the restaurant and choose your grub off from their daily offerings. The menu is pretty simple: 8-10 savoury dishes changing daily, a couple of desserts and some staples like the “Pig Mac” and a Salumi board that are constant.

We started off with a delicious pork liver pate topped with a stout jelly and a sprinkling of burnt bread. It set the mood for the entire evening and plastered giant smiles on our faces. The charcuterie board was excellent featuring a beautiful saucisson sec among other delicious salumi. When making this beautiful sausage, Chef Mottershall reversed the percentages of fat and meat producing a cure that was incredibly silky and smooth. One of the many stand-out dishes of the night was the experiment that the kitchen was working on: a deep fried cherry bomb pepper stuffed with salumi and homemade ricotta. The heat of the pepper was subdued by the creamy cheese and the tart carrot slaw it was served on. It was delicious… as were the deep fried chicken hearts, the tempura broccoli, the corn chowder and Mottershall’s ode to the farm veggie dish. The last savoury plate we devoured involved bone marrow, parsley salad and some cured foie gras shaved ontop. It was heaven!…

… I could go on and on about what we ate but I think the solution is just for you to go out and enjoy dinner at Loka yourselves. Make a reservation, get yourself in at the chef’s table and enjoy an evening of spoils.

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