Whether it’s a new restaurant in town or an established one, there’s always something exciting about going to it for the first time. Sometimes, it’s a date night for me and Don, and other times, it’s to meet up with good friends for a relaxing evening.
Last month, I headed to Toronto to visit friends and left Don to his own devices. After an evening of shopping, dinner, and doing wedding errands along Spadina Street, my best friend and I decided we were in need of a late night snack. And so, we decided to visit Luma on the second floor of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) Bell Lightbox in the heart of the Entertainment District.
Luma is part of the well-known Oliver & Bonacini (O&B) restaurant chain in Toronto. One of the things I really like about O&B is the diversity of its restaurants for its patrons. Whether you’re looking to make it a special date night, celebrating a milestone, looking for a casual meal, grabbing food on the go, having a family dinner with young children, or eating on a student budget, there is something for everyone. And with restaurants scattered throughout the Greater Toronto Area, you’re bound to find an O&B restaurant near you.
Heading into Luma, you first need to walk past O&B Canteen, on the ground floor. Taking the escalator to the second floor, you’ll see posters displaying the latest movies and entertainment news. I’ve never had the privilege of attending the film festival, but I’ll bet it’s one exciting place to be.
Walking into Luma, you’ll be greeted warmly by a friendly face. You’ll find seats at the bar, large table seatings throughout the restaurant, and more intimate seats by the window. And with Executive Chef Jason Bangerter in charge of both Luma and Canteen, my friend and I were excited to order.
Having already eaten dinner, we decided to share a few things from the menu. Over a bowl of soup ($9), we shared a plate of Tongue & Cheek ($15) with a basket of bread crisps.
Consisting of braised veal tongue, duck pâté, and pork head cheese, the menu describes the dish as having “wild Canadian flavours.” I’m not sure what that meant, but the veal tongue was a hit with us, as was the duck pâté. Each component had the right amount of saltiness and savouriness, and while I enjoyed the pork head cheese, my friend found it had too many mustard seeds.
WIth eyes bigger than my stomach, I also ordered the handmade pappardelle for myself.
With braised beef short rib, caramelized onions, and horseradish cream, how could I resist? Don and I love eating braised beef short ribs, and the tender pieces of beef did not disappoint. On the other hand, the pasta was rather a letdown. The outer edges were al dente, but by the time I had reached the centre of the dish, I felt as though I was eating a bowl of warm dough with sauce.
We also had just enough room for dessert, a chocolate délice ($10), consisting of dark valrhona chocolate, caramelized
bananas, peanut butter ice cream, and brownie crumbs. I might not have been able to eat the chocolate itself, but I assure you, this was absolutely scrumptious, maybe even sinful. We were so delighted with it that we forgot to take a picture until there was almost nothing left on the plate.
It was an enjoyable evening with fantastic service, friendly and efficient. I’ll be back for more, this time with Don.
Together, they created and served one of the event’s most popular dishes:
Braised elk ribs with creamy polenta and tasty crispy bits, every mouthful was savoury and creamy.
If you missed this year’s Celebrity Chefs of Canada event, Luma is just a four hour drive from Ottawa!
Total (including drinks and taxes, before tip): $67.80
TIFF Bell Lightbox, 2nd Floor
330 King Street W.