I am reviewing Lamesa Filipino Kitchen with Mikaius today, because I took him there for his 24th birthday dinner and I want to know how he found the place (and the food!). Did I make a good call taking him there for his 24th? Read on after the jump and see!
Dani: When I stepped through the heavy-duty, almost industrial door of Lamesa Filipino Kitchen, I was struck by how the ambiance managed to feel home-y and yet impressively updated. The heavy glasses were akin to what I grew up using back home, and the table settings were of the spoon and fork variety, not the fork and knife combination that I was getting used to here in Toronto. And while I felt really at home, everything was set in such a way that I felt like I was not in a carinderia, but in an upscale restaurant. Not to knock the carinderia experience, because some of the best Filipino food experiences I’ve had in Toronto (and one of the worst) came from carinderias – Dalisay has the best halo-halo in the Bathurst and Steeles area. The experience that Lamesa gave me was something new entirely, however, and it is something that I definitely enjoyed.
Mikaius: For me, the place didn’t remind me of anything personal, but I could see the joy in Dani’s face as she noted the little things. In my head, I thought the place was simple but classy. The tables and seats were good and comfy, and I like a good restaurant that’s longer than it is wide. I still haven’t learned to use a spoon and fork, but I’ll figure it out one day. (Dani note: I may or may not have neglected/forgotten to teach him how to use a spoon and fork combination.)
Dani: The tables were classy pieces of rough-hewn wood that looked like they were sanded down and varnished, and there was a bottle of spicy vinegar on the table along with other condiments. See what I mean about combining upscale and hometown? I’m from Negros Occidental, and sinamak is a big deal back home. I was so happy to see that bottle there. There was also a Christmas parol hanging from the ceiling, along with a beautiful, modern light fixture of bare lightbulbs hanging in a row. Service was prompt, and the guy who was serving us was accommodating. He explained beforehand that the food might take a little bit longer than usual because there was a largish party at the back.
Mikaius: As Dani said, the place looked fantastic inside. Not personally recognizing the home-elements, I did just enjoy the way things were. Nothing looked out of place or kitschy, nothing seemed cramped or crammed in. Despite the size of the joint, it felt spacious.
Dani: The food. How do I describe the food without sounding like a teenager with a crush? The food was amazing. Since we went on a Thursday, Lamesa was serving small platters, which meant smaller servings of their dishes, at more affordable prices. Mikaius and I had the Sisig Wraps, the Fried Chicken Adobo, and the Turon French Toast. All of it was a fresh new take on Filipino food, while still managing to stay true to the taste that I knew and was accustomed to. I was most excited about the Turon French Toast – it was french toast with langka and saging wrapped in turon wrappers and deep fried, and doused with maple syrup. It was glorious. The french toast was the right amount of sweetness, and it wasn’t too chewy, plus the turon wrapper was wonderfully crispy. I can still taste the perfection that was the perfectly fried wrapper and the soft french toast inside. Mmmmmm. The sisig was also very, very good. It came in lettuce wraps, and a calamansi half to squeeze in. While not served the traditional way in a hotplate, the lettuce provided a fresh way of experiencing the sisig that added to its allure. Plus, the seasoning was spot on.
Mikaius: God damned delicious. In my experience with Filipino food, chicken adobo has always sat there as a weird dish. It was just kinda there, nothing but a simple chicken. It was the cheese pizza of the Filipino food. The chicken adobo at Lamesa was amazing, it was crispy and fried. It was wonderful and crunchy. It felt like the flavours of it really popped, whereas I’ve found adobo to be relatively bland before. Likewise the sisig was wonderful, and I like the idea of bite-sized sisig as much as I like hotplates of sizzling sisig. The lettuce gave it a wonderful crunch and the sisig was so finely chopped it was like a whole new dish. The Lolo Cool J was a cute little drink, but a bit too salty for me, I’ve never liked salt with my alcohol. The turon, however, stole the damn show. I like turon, love it, it’s a great idea, but putting a perfectly thin slice of French toast between the wrap and insides? BRILLIANT! Absolutely delicious!
Dani: Will I be back? Will I take people with me, will I be recommending it to others? Uh, yes. Absolutely yes. 4.5!
Mikaius: I wanna go back as soon as I can! That adobo alone makes it worth it! 5/5.
Overall rating: 4.8/5 – would definitely go back again!