Introducing: Loka, the city’s first successfully Kickstarted restaurant, on Queen West
Neighbourhood: Queen West
Contact: 620 Queen St. W., 416-995-9639, @LokaToronto
Owners: Dave Mottershall, Paul Campbell (Aft Bar)
Chefs: Dave Mottershall (Terre Rouge, The Chase, Loka Snacks)
Mottershall says the food at Loka is an exploration of Canadian cuisine. Menus change frequently based on ingredient availability, and Mottershall, who only buys animals whole, adheres to a zero-waste policy—which means many dishes include offal and off-cuts. The charcuterie program rotates and a chalkboard indicates what’s in the curing chamber and when it will be ready. The $100 tasting menu (which includes a little of everything from the à la carte menu) is only available at the two-seat chef’s table. Dishes from a recent tasting menu are shown below.
House-made soppresseta with red-wine syrup as an amuse bouche.
House-cured pancetta served with Forno Cultura’s potato-balsamic bread.
Beef carpaccio with shaved foie gras, red wine syrup, breadcrumbs and chives.
Shaved lardo with chicharrones and milk-stout raisins.
Pheasant terrine with liver terrine and pickled lobster mushrooms.
Leek ash cavatelli with smoked fennel, in a cherry-bomb broth
Crispy pig’s head with pickled strawberries and ramp mustard.
Blueberry-braised venison neck with aligot (so, cheesy and mashed) potatoes and roasted carrots.
Vanilla goat yogurt with Newfoundland partridge berries.
Wine and a short list of (mainly) Canadian draught and bottled beers. Cider, produced by Mottershall’s childhood best friend Chris Whitney, is also on tap.
Mottershall renovated the 32-seat space with assistance from his staff, and (given their tight Kickstarter budget) used tables and chairs left behind by the previous tenants. Ten seats line the front bar, 22 take up the sparsely furnished dining room and there’s room for two guests at the chef’s table.
The chef’s table.
Mottershall puts the finishing touches on a dish.
A mural showcasing all 453 of Loka’s Kickstarter supporters.