Food events/ Restaurant Reviews/ Toronto and GTA

{Event} Lamesa Filipino Kitchen introduces Chef Daniel Cancino

Address: 669 Queen St. W., Toronto, ON
When I visited: September 2015, media dinner

A star in the making! Chef Daniel Cancino delivers an eccentric, yet satisfying Fall/Winter menu at Lamesa Filipino Kitchen full of surprisingly flavorful and creative variations on classics from the Philippines. Couple that with some delicious cocktails courtesy of Bartender Justin Bella and you have a winning combination.

Starting with the welcome drink Boracay Breezy (house made peach liqueur,  dark rum & coconut rum, banana liqueur, macerated strawberry syrup and garnished with a flower) we were immediately alerted to what we were in for that night. It was going to be a nostalgic and fun look at modern Filipino cuisine through the eyes of a group of ambitious children of the island nation who’d made it their mission to bring their food heritage to the Toronto main stage. Apart from the Boracay Breezy, we were also treated to a new mix: the Baguio Bagyo, which is their version of a Dark & Stormy, only made with star anise liqueur, ginger beer and calamansi juice instead. For the uninitiated, calamansi is a tiny citrus fruit that Filipinos hold near and dear to their hearts.  It has a lime-like appearance with a mildly sweet flavour.

Lamesa is not just about the food and libations—the establishment also gives a voice to Filipino artists and muralists by having them decorate the walls with representations of what their culture means to them. For now, they’ve focused on the washrooms and the stairs leading down to the them in the basement. Who knew a trip to freshen up between courses could also be an excuse to see something cool? Thankfully restaurant owner Les Sabilano and his team did, and the result is a unique experience – to say the least.  Here are a couple pics of the drinks and videos of the works of artists Krystle Tabujara and Jodinand Aguilion:

Boracay Breezy

Baguio Bagyo

Now let’s get to the important stuff — the food! Here was the menu we were served, which forms just a portion of the Fall/Winter menu:

Tuna Kinilaw: a Filipino style ceviche made with albacore tuna, a coconut calamansi vinaigrette, fresh chilies, and coconut guacamole served with shrimp chips.

Tuna Kinilaw

Corned Beef Lumpia: House corned brisket, house banana ketchup (we took home a bottle of this stuff and it’s divine!), house cheese, house kimchi, cabbage mostarda.

Beet Maalat Salad and Corned Beef Lumpia
Beet Maalat Salad and Corned Beef Lumpia - 2

Beet Maalat Salad: Salted egg, white anchovy, thai basil, watercress, wild rice.

Ensaladang Talong: or roasted eggplant salad. He combines roasted eggplant, a common vegetable side in Filipino cuisine, with eggplant caponata, crème fraîche, salted egg, puffed wild rice and sweet soy. This dish was selected by Zagat Toronto as one the best dishes of 2015.

Ensaladang Talong

Beef Bulalo: Shortrib, bone marrow, cabbage, potato, salsa verde, beef and ginger broth. (MMMMMMM – DEFINITELY LEADS TO A HAPPY BELLY)

Beef Cheek Sinigang

Pork and Octopus Dinuguan: Octopus, pork cheek, onion, apple, maple puto, pig blood and calamansi jus.

Pork and Octopus Dinuguan

Cauliflower Ginataan: Cauliflower all ways (an understatement).

Cauliflower All Ways

Ube leche flan: a Spanish style custard made with sweet purple yam served with puffed wild rice and apple tapioca.

Ube Leche Flan

As you can imagine, I left STUFFED. But it was like I’d had a trip around all 7,107 islands in the Philippines without traveling further than a streetcar from my home near Bloor and Yonge. Every item, whether the tart and delectable Tuna Kinilaw, or the hearty and umami-filled Pork Octopus Dinuguan, or the creamy and subtly-sweet Ube leche Flan was a hit with my taste-buds (and, visibly, those of my dining partner and media colleagues). The hands-down favourite for me was the Beef Bulalo, with the Cauliflower Ginataan as a close runner-up. Both dishes hit the mark when it came to balanced flavours and interesting execution and presentation. Both made me want to taste every element that was (obviously) carefully selected to round out the profile of the finished product.

I can’t wait to dine at Lamesa again and enjoy more of the menu, like the Pancit Canton, and have about 50 more of those incredible Corned Beef Lumpia. Perhaps the only thing I would like to see done differently is a more finished interior in the restaurant itself. It looked quite bare-bones while I visited at their media event on Sept 28, but I’m guessing that was just its interim state since Les had confirmed that there is more artwork to come in the dining room itself.

All in all, I’m excited to see what else comes out Chef Cancino’s imaginative mind!

Chef Daniel Cancino

Fall/Winter Menu

For more info on Lamesa Filipino Kitchen: 

Twitter: @LamesaTO



*Disclosure: The meal was complimentary but the opinions in the post are my own.

Lamesa Filipino Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Waleed Hafeez

Waleed Hafeez

Waleed is a regular contributor to Mary's Happy Belly and a Toronto-based marketer, designer, blogger, and photographer. He enjoys writing about food and lifestyle here, as well as other topics of interest on his personal blog at
Waleed Hafeez

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