3.05.2010

I've fallen for the Local Kitchen and Wine Bar!


The Local Kitchen not to be mistook as the pub around the corner on Roncevalles or the restaurant on the Danforth  was celebrated as one of the hottest new restaurants for 2009. And it definitely lives up to it's reputation - I will possibly go on record to say it has been one of my favourite places that I've tried so far!
As you walk into the intimate 29 seat restaurant, you are transported into instant comfort like you're walking into someone's house.  There is no pretention here - just a very chill and laid back atmosphere.  It was the perfect spot to enjoy conversation, wine and relax.  Sam and I head for the chef's table tonight and we are greeted with gusto by chef Fabio Bondi who is one of the owners- he was already busy crafting and creating dishes as we took our seats at the bar overlooking the kitchen.  The perfect vantage point to watch food porn in the making!
We didn't know what to expect as our menu is Fabio's vision for the evening and even so, the menu in the restaurant changes with the seasons as everything is locally sourced or made in house. 
Fabio begins our culinary journey with an offering of panko crusted olives stuffed with rabbit puree- they are amazing!  I've never had these before and Fabio explains they are native to a region of Italy where they are served everywhere.  They remind me of deep fried pickles which I love so they were a great way to start our meal!
Next up was two cherry peppers stuffed with bococinni cheese- at first they looked like they were tomatoes but upon taste you discover the pickled pepper that was carefully cured.  Next up was one of the best charchuterie boards I've ever had.  We were all discussing textures and this board - all the cured meats melted in your mouth, shying away from any sort of texture- they were so smooth and to my delight, there were profiles of different flavours with infusions of rosemary, fennel in the meats.  The board included bison, prosciutto, salumi, and culatello which is the neck and was my very favourite as it simply melted alongside chorizo and sausage all so good and light.  It was the perfect board!
Fabio served us pickled beet, onions and peppers which seemed to compliment the simplicty of the board with tartness. 
At this point in the evening, we had befriended the other owner- Michael Sangregorio - who's path I had crossed once before at a Charlie's Burgers event.  He explained that the Local Kitchen had only celebrated it's 6 month anniversary and at this point -we had already became fans of the place.
But our meal was only just beginning- our next dish was delectable Bershire pork panchetta with a drizzle of maple syrup over it.  Sam and I were both in heaven.  The salty sweet balance was amazing and again the texture of the Berkshire Pork was muted - it was so smooth.

Now we move into the pasta portion of our meal - all pasta is made in-house and today's features were tortillinis with sweet breads, served in a clear mushroom broth, homemade smoked potato gnocchi with rapini which are pillowy and pink beet ravioli which are sweet delights.   Each pasta had it's unique flavour profile which I had never tried before and we couldn't stop eating each of them until the plates were finished including the sauces -scrumptious mmm!!
At this point, Fabio had to do a check on vital signs and to see if our stomachs could handle any more food to which we both replied 'YES!' enthusiastically so out came a main dish featuring pork belly served over lentils and parsnips as veg.  The fattiness of the pork belly rounded out the rootiness of the parsnips and earthy muskiness of the lentils.  At this point - I was seriously in a food coma; I was having a hard time with this dish simply because I was worried about exploding!  But this dish was cooked perfectly and of course there wasn't any trace of food left on the plate!  I think our faces told the story when Fabio and Mike asked if we were ready for dessert so instead they opted for a cheese board which is always an absolutely lovely way to finish dinner off with.  There was a borgonzola (I don't know if I spelt it correctly) but it was a blue cheese, an apple wood smoked cheddar which is always a crown pleasure and something similiar to parmsean made from bees wax and monks cave served with honeycomb, marmalaid and dates... See my memory starts to blur together at this point because I'm comatosed!  We do our best to polish off this board but there were still corners of the cheese left over as we couldn't do it!
As I looked around the restaurant, I see a boar's head over the door and Mike explains that there's a cocktail on the menu in hommage to the boar called “Penny’s Cousin.” featuring “bacon washed bourbon,” maple syrup and grapefruit juice.  I make a note to myself that I need to try that the next time I am back.  Fabio explained to us that they only burn beeswax candles because they want to create a clean and healthy environment and says that these candles are safe versus the cheap tea light candles  you can buy at IKEA which are a bit toxic.

For a $50 chef's menu- the meal was just outstanding and unbelievable!   I can't wait to come back again!
**** 1/2 stars
Local Kitchen and Wine Bar- 1710 Queen Street West (East of Roncesevalle)
(416) 534-6700 
Hours: 
Tue. and Wed.: 5:00pm – 11:00pm
Thu. to Sat.: 5:00pm – 12:00am
Dinner for 2 with a bottle of wine - $160 with gratuity

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