Despite being the vibrant and multicultural city that Toronto is, there weren’t a lot of Filipino restaurants when I was growing up. The Filipino dishes and snacks I got to try were from friends that had made them or brought them back from their travels. A few years ago, during my stint in South East Asia, I got to visit Cebu and Bohol and had some seaside feasts that properly introduced me to the cuisine. I had wanted to find some of the similar flavours ever since I came back and meant to try Lamesa for a while now. Being one of the few Filipino restaurants that have sprouted out in the city, Lamesa is a cozy and comfortable space downtown that offers interesting fusion takes on the classics.
Good thing a few friends were interested in trying their Winterlicious menu and organized a little get-together because this meal was a memorable one. Most of our table started things off with the Mushroom Sotanghon, which had different kinds of mushrooms cooked in adobo with rice noodles and topped with a pickled egg. The broth also came with some miso, which we had to be careful to not add too much of, because it added more saltiness that the dish did not need.
Being the curious cat at the table, I had to order the halo halo sisig, complete with pig’s head and chicken gizzards which were resting steady beneath a fried egg. When I was mixing everything into the rice, the dish reminded me of some of the filling breakfasts I had in Bohol. The ingredients might sound a little intimidating but it was mighty tasty and worth a try.
For mains, the chicken adobo was done with french techniques. The meat was confited, making it super tender and the adobo was a gastrique, served on a bed of barley risotto, which was super creamy and blended perfectly with the chicken.
The milk fish was a play on fish and chips, complete with a cassava hash and a refreshing slaw with homemade tartar sauce and a spicy ketchup. This take on the poster child of Filipino seafood was one of the best bites of the night.
For dessert we diversified our choices and got to try all three offerings for the Winterlicious menu.
The Ensaymade bread pudding was done with brioche and a dolce de leche sauce, it was gooey and soft with poached pears and it paired nicely with a little crunch from the candied walnuts.
Turon, the dessert that is usually made with bananas and jackfruit stuffed in a rice wrapper, got a makeover when the essence of it was incorporated into a chocolate cake. The Turon chocolate cake was a good cross between two classic desserts and I had a lot of fun crunching on the fried lumpia wrappers.
The leche flan that was coloured purple from ube and was the most interesting offering. The purple yam changed the consistency of the flan making it smoother and firmer, almost like a cream brûlée, which went well with the crunching rice crisps topping. This was our favourite dessert of the night.
The whole meal was worth venturing out into our wintery frost land for. It was complemented by great wait staff, who answered our questions about dishes and brought us additional heaters to make sure we were extra warm. We'll for sure be visiting again to check out their regular menu offerings.