At the end of February, Carol Paschal organized another outing for the Hintonburg Supper Club, this time at the Viva Loca Cafe (1233 Wellington Street W.), located inside the Great Canadian Theatre Company (GCTC). In the months since Viva Loca opened its second location, Don and I have only eaten there once, ordering their delicious oat and whole-wheat pancakes from their weekend brunch menu for takeout. Made to order, they were light and fluffy. When we received the email for February’s event, we became excited to try their dinner menu.
In addition to their regular lunch and dinner menu of panini grilled sandwiches, gluten-free wraps, savory crepes, chili, soup, and salads, Viva Loca offered supper club members a table d’hote menu ($17.95). For starters, they offered the soup of the day or a mixed green salad. For the entree, there were three options.
- Hearty chunky chicken stew loaded with fresh vegetables and served with artisan bread.
- Roasted vegetable lasagna layered with fresh pasta and cheese and served with artisan bread.
- Ham and fresh asparagus buckwheat crepe with cheese sauce.
Dessert was a selection of home made treats, date squares, apple & plum crisp, cookies (including a gluten-free option) and carrot cake, along with coffee or tea. Don and I decided to order from the table d’hote for that evening’s dinner.
Due to the number of people attending that night’s dinner, GCTC closed its doors with a sign to the public, saying it was closed for a private function.
In the daytime, Viva Loca is a wonderfully bright eatery. The sun streams through its floor to ceiling windows that surround it. Despite the concrete stairs and walls, the dining area is comfortable and the staff, warm and inviting.
Starter – Soup of the Day or Mixed Green Salad
That chilly evening, Don and I chose the soup of the day to start: a cream of potato and leek soup. Made with a vegetable-based broth, the soup contained thinly sliced leek with large chunks of red potatoes. While I enjoyed eating the large chunks of potato, I was surprised at how the soup was made. I had expected a soup with more body. What we were served that evening was a very thin soup, whose cream finish seemed slightly curdled. The leeks were also slightly overcooked. Despite its loose texture, the soup had great flavour. The accompanying slice of multi-grain artisan bread was delicious. It was nicely toasted, giving off a wonderful scent of toasted caraway seeds in its crust.
Entree – Roasted Vegetable Lasagna layered with fresh pasta and cheese and artisan bread
For his entree, Don chose the roasted vegetable lasagna. It was layered with a generous serving of cheese, fresh vegetables, and marinara sauce. In fact the serving was enormous. Overall, Don told me the vegetarian lasagna met his expectations. He would have preferred the pasta cooked more al dente and the sauce, slightly thicker. Again, the slice of multi-grain artisan bread made a nice accompaniment to the lasagna, perfect to sop up the marinara sauce. The salad was fresh and crisp.
Entree – Hearty Chunky Chicken Stew loaded with Fresh Vegetables and artisan bread
For my entree, I chose the hearty chunky chicken stew. Coming in from the cold and watching people walk by bundled in their winter gear, the stew seemed like the perfect choice to me. When the bowls of chicken stew were served, I heard other supper club members express worry the servings were rather small. However, the serving was just right. It was filling. The stew, chunky and satisfying. Each bowl contained a generous helping of fresh vegetables (carrots, mushrooms, potatoes, onion, and celery) and large chunks of chicken breast. The stew was nicely thick and well-seasoned.
For dessert, many supper club members chose either the date square or apple and plum crisp. Few chose the carrot cake.
Don chose the date square.
Again, as with everything else served that evening, the serving portion of the square was large. According to him, the square was more square than date. The pastry, crisp but thick. The date filling was sweet, but not cloyingly so.
Never one to turn down an apple crisp, I was excited to try Viva Loca’s apple & plum ginger crisp.
It was my first time tasting apple paired with plum in a dessert. When my plate came, the crisp looked delicious. The fruit filling was quite tasty. Not overly sweet, the plums and apples were thinly sliced, skin on. The streussel topping was very thick, crisp, and sweet. After a few bites, it became obvious there was too much streussel and not enough fruit. The distribution of the ginger was somewhat uneven. With every bite, I could taste ginger, but some bites had large pieces of ginger, while others did not.
In general, the meal was rustic and filling. Don and I were impressed with the sheer variety of dishes, flavours, and textures that were made with seasonal and local ingredients. We plan on returning to try their brunch menu.
Total: $40.57 (after taxes, before tip)
1233 Wellington Street W.