“La Mesa” means table, in Tagalog. It also has the same meaning in Spanish. And just as multicultural as its name, is the food you find at the new Queen and Bathurst spot offering a modern take on Filipino cuisine.
Lamesa’s prixfixe 5 course Chef’s tasting menu for $35.00, is a representation of the aromas, texture and taste of traditional Filipino ingredients fused with international flavours. Owner Less Sabilano and Chef Boquilla are embracing this concept by serving crowd favourites while exploring with world cuisine with new daily menu items.
The menu experience starts with an amuse-bouche consisting of a chilled soup made with roasted corn, coconut milk and smoked bacon that was beautifully placed on a porcelain spoon. The flavour derived from the roasting of the corn adds a nutty note to the soup which is balanced by the creaminess of the coconut milk and is then brought back to basics with the crunchy texture and saltiness of the bacon. A fantastic appetite opener.
Following this, is the appetizer version of the traditional Halo Halo Sisig. The term ‘sisig’ refers to the spicy and fatty – but oh-so popular – meat dish all over the Philippines. At Lamesa, the base of the dish is made up of a combination of pork, chicken and beef that has been seasoned and cooked with aromatic spices, white onions, celery, red bell peppers, garlic and soy sauce, to name a few ingredients. It comes accompanied with a Filipino style Pico de Gallo, topped with a fried egg.
To eat this dish, as instructed by fellow Filipino friends I was dining with, one must first mix together all ingredients in the bowl, grab a spoon of the unlimited steamed white rice served with the dish, add it to it, and then squeeze the juice from the lemon on top, which will add some well deserved acidity to the otherwise fatty feel of the dish. What brought me to understand how much of a staple this dish is in the Philippines, was the reaction from my friends when saying it reminded them of home-cooked aromas with a fresh twist, the twist probably coming from the infusion of Pico de Gallo and lack of traditional use of offal meat.
With a near full appetite, I am presented with my main, the Seafood Sinigang.Sinigang is a soup or stew traditionally made with tamarind, daikon, tomatoes and onions. The smell coming from the dish brought me to an unknown place. I could not relate it to any stew I’ve had before. It had a specific smell that resembled notes of tea leafs and mild flavours and then hit you hard with the slight fish smell from the seafood. It wasn’t bad, it was just unknown to my kind. The seafood in the stew was grilled medium-rare and bathed with the accompanying green beans. I was not necessarily a fan of the daikon puree, but then again my nose was also just getting used to the new flavours.
Now on to my favourite part of the meal, a dual dessert experience! Starting a parade of sweet concoctions, Lamesa kicks-off this course with the Chef’s pre-dessert – Chocolate Mousse. The mousse was sweet and had a less dense texture than regular mousse. This is probably from the fact that the Chef confessed to mixing instant chocolate with tea leafs (not sure which kind). The twist to the pre-dessert, was the addition of a topping called Pinipig, which is basically an immature glutinous rice that has been dried out and puffed up. In some Asian cultures, this rice is considered the quintessential rice.
The meal closer, the Maple Leche Flan, was the most versatile and internationally infused dish of the entire menu.The notion of Canadian Maple syrup on a traditional Spanish dessert like Flan, that was adapted by the Philippines during the Spaniards conquest, opened up the possibilities on what can be done with a rather simple dessert. The texture of flan has to be silky-smooth, so that one’s palate is not overwhelmed by the sweetness of the condensed milk and sugar. Kudos to Lamesa for capturing the essence of this dessert.
Until next time Foodies!