Monday, September 21, 2009

Visit Now: Local Kitchen & Wine Bar

Just one week old, and Local Kitchen & Wine Bar has got its groove ... and my vote.  Located on Queen West, just East of Roncesvalles, Local prides itself on homemade artisan salumi, incredible fresh pasta, and a Sicilian heritage.

It's a small 26-seater space with rustic charm and a homey appeal, complete with graphic tees hung along one wall and a boar's head over the door.  The music is spun from turntables in the back ... "feel free to make a request", says co-owner Michael.  I'm at a loss and so I jokingly suggest AC/DC.  I'm pretty sure he thinks I'm an ass, though never really lets on.  Our server is an adorable German woman who is on sabbatical and in Toronto because she "always wanted to work in a foreign country".  I'm a tad jealous of her gusto.  She's sweet and accommodating and perfectly attentive.

To start we decide to order the small salumi plate, and it is FABULOUS.  The dill cappicollo is to die for; the boar salami is perfect, and guanciale is fatty and lovely.  One of the specials of the day was braised rabbit stuffed olives which had been lightly battered and deep fried (served room temperature).  It's hard to balance the briney taste of an olive and so I found the rabbit to take a bit of a back seat, but it was delicious all the same.  And who doesn't want fried stuff?!

For the mains we ordered seared duck breast which sat atop baked apple and lentils with a cider gastrique, and the smoked potato gnocchi with rapini and taleggio.  First, the duck.  It was sweet and a touch tart, balanced by a flavourful rub and the buttery lentils.  SO good.  The gnocchi was made perfectly - pillowy and smooth.  The taleggio cream sauce was subtle and the rapini added a nutty, slightly bitter complement.

We opted to pair each course with a different wine at Michael's discretion.  The list is primarily Ontario-based, though you can find some BC wines along with lovely Italian options as well.  Take a little extra time and read through the preamble to each page of the wine list ... they're amusing stories of why the wine or varietal has made the list, sometimes even personifying the grapes (like the poor White Cab who was once cast away but now making its due comeback).

I have no doubt Local Kitchen & Wine Bar will enjoy a loyal following.  I only hope they one day decide to offer their salumi for retail ... I could indulge in their charcuterie just about every day.

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