This was my second visit to Lamesa Filipino Kitchen. I distinctly remember the first time I visited this restaurant with my friends back in university. We had chosen their prix fixe menu and for some reason thought it was a good idea to share the prix fixe (for one person) menu between all 6 of us. I really wasn’t sure what we were thinking, but we all got a moderate taste (literally) of what the food was like. I didn’t get enough, obviously, so this visit to Lamesa to me was quite exciting and long-anticipated.
My friend Priscilla and I arrived on a Friday night around 7 p.m. We were disappointed to find out that their long-established prix fixe menu had been taken off as of January of this year. Darn! We were two months too late! We really wanted to try the prix fixe menu since we are both fond of such menus. Nevertheless, we tried our best to select items off the dinner menu that reflected traditional Filipino dishes and things that we wouldn’t normally eat. Priscilla had never tried Filipino food before, and I have to say that I’m not very familiar with the cuisine myself. It was a great night of eating and chatting. 🙂
We shared two appetizers: One from the regular dinner menu and one from the Bar Snacks menu ($5 for each item from Tuesday-Sunday and which changes nightly). I absolutely loved the Bicol Express Fries! These were served in an adorable little take-out box. I loved how rich the coconut flavour was on top of the fries. It was smooth and smelled amazing! One downside to this bar snack was that the fries at the very bottom of the box were not covered in the amazing sauce and were a bit dry. Otherwise, this was my favourite food of the night!
The other appetizer is a well-known “Halo Halo Sisig” and Rice. The Halo Halo Sisig arrived in a little black pot where there were a mixture of shredded chicken, pork, and beef with chilies, garlic, and onion with a fried egg on top. The description of this appetizer said to “Mix. Mix. Enjoy” so that we did. We combined it with the white rice that was on the side and I found that it wasn’t that amazing. I found the dish to be quite dry… I liked the egg though.
On to the main dishes! The Fried Chicken Adobo was something that both Priscilla and I absolutely wanted to try. It was described as “kind of a big deal. National dish of the Philippines meets Toronto’s best fried Chicken”. As a foodie, I almost always like to try the “national” or “popular” dishes. To be honest, I was actually very disappointed with this fried chicken. Now reading the description again on their website, it is “Crispy fried chicken with pickled chayote, garlic puree, and adobo reduction served with rice“. Wait a minute… we didn’t get any rice that night! What the heck?! In any case, I didn’t like this fried chicken because the meat was SO dry underneath the skin. The skin was fried well and extremely crispy; in fact, I don’t think I’ve had such crispy fried chicken before. However, the meat inside was so bland and dry. Even the barely-there smear of garlic puree on the wooden plate didn’t help with the flavouring. So disappointed… I have to ask, is it just me or do other Lamesa go-ers find this dish dry? Also, the cob of corn was so burnt that I could only get a couple of nibbles from it. 😦
I was hoping that the second main would redeem the restaurant somewhat. Unfortunately, I also found that the Roast Beef dish was not likable. 😦 It was presented nicely; the roast beef slices were generously placed on top of the potato and banana mash (we were very intrigued by this mash and that’s part of the reason why we chose this as the second main to share), and I really liked the crispy brussel sprouts that topped the dish. The sprouts were my favourite part of this dish… I found the roast beef to be very rough and dry… little flavour and way too rough. I’ve never had such rough roast beef before. I had to chug down a lot of water in order to get the pieces down my throat. Also, we were surprised that the banana mash wasn’t as infused with a banana scent as we thought it would be. It tasted more like regular mashed potatoes instead. Sigh, again, I have to ask — because Lamesa is such a popular and well-known restaurant in Toronto — is it just our taste buds that don’t agree with this food or have other diners found their meat to be extremely, extremely dry?
Finally, we settled on a dessert — the Ginataan Sundae. One of the things I liked about Lamesa was how polite and well-informed the servers are about the food. Each time a plate was brought to our table, our server very clearly explained the dish to us. The service was definitely impeccable. Anyway, this sundae was made with ube, coconut, caramel corn, and whip cream. I asked the server what ube is, and he told me that it was a purple ice cream made with yam. Mmm, yum! I had heard about this purple ice cream recently from one of the other bloggers here in the cyberworld and really didn’t think I would get a chance to try it. It was an unique dessert, that’s for sure.
I enjoyed the ube ice cream. The caramel corn were fresh. I found it very interesting that there were corn pops also scattered around the dessert. We both weren’t a big fan of the little coconut/tapioca pieces that were on the top of the dessert. It was definitely a different dessert though.
Overall, as you can tell from the vibe of my post so far, I really wanted Lamesa to blow me out of the water with amazing and memorable food. The food was memorable all right, but not all of it was memorable in a good way. My favourite remains the Bicol Express Fries and the crispy brussel sprouts. That’s it. Kind of sad. I just couldn’t believe how dry and bland the rest of the dishes with meat were…. The service was impeccable though.
So, I’d like your opinion. Since this is such a popular restaurant, please let me know in the comments below what your experience and opinion is of Lamesa. They currently have a 91% rating on urbanspoon, so there’s no way that the food can be that bad if that many people love it. Perhaps Filipino food is usually dry and bland like this? Anyway, let me know! I’d love to hear what you thought of it.