Loka Snacks Opens With a Little Help From Its friends
MRCA’s Chef Cam goes a little ‘loka’ at Loka Snacks, a Toronto pop-up-turned-restaurant that became the city’s first crowdfunded eatery.
From the moment I met Chef Dave Mottershall (Terre Rouge, The Chase) a few years back I knew there was something about him that was different. The passion and excitement he showed when he talked about food was off the hook and I was sure he was bound for great things.
Fast forward to summer 2015 and Chef Dave was looking for a way to turn Loka Snacks – his banging east end Toronto pop-up tucked away in the back the Hi-Lo Bar – into a standalone restaurant to call his own. Then he came up with the novel idea of a Kickstarter campaign to help him get the project off the ground.
Pretty soon, 450 people had climbed on the bandwagon and that, plus enthusiasm and perseverance, made the dream reality. Of course, it helped that his staff was committed enough to the project they helped him renovate the space. Sparsely furnished with tables and chairs left behind by the previous tenants, Loka Snacks opened on funky Queen St. West last fall and the 32-seater became an instant hit.
I had the chance to visit Toronto about two weeks before the restaurant’s actual opening and it was on my priority list to hit up, hang out and give a few high fives to Chef Dave and his crew. Loka Snacks was everything I expected: Canadian focused, simple and for real. There are always bugs to work out before every new restaurant opening, but these guys had it pretty dialled in.
The charcuterie program was well on its way, with different cuts and salumes hanging and waiting patiently to be eaten. From duck breast being cured to lardo, things were already getting real. The drinks list was honest, focusing on beer, ciders and wine. I am a sucker for good local ciders and the menu at Loka was simply awesome.
I showed up with the intention of eating as much as possible, and ended up doing the whole menu (customers can do the same if they manage to score the two-seat chef’s table). I won’t go into the details of each dish because the menu will revolve and evolve, but I can honestly say you will not be disappointed in anything.
Chef Dave sources all ingredients locally and seasonally, so there will be something new every visit. I have to say, though, that the handcrafted in-house charcuterie is a must. All the plates are designed for sharing.
Loka Snacks is the place to hit if you live in Toronto or are just visiting. I have no doubt in my mind that this spot will be a successful local joint for a long time to come.
Loka Snacks: 620 Queen St. W., Toronto, 416-995-9639, @LokaToronto