Friday, April 13, 2012

Aussie Aboriginal Toilet Decor in Locus

Locus on Urbanspoon
The food at Locus Restaurant and Lounge is interesting, but less interesting than the restaurant itself. The decor has a sort-of-Gothic "underworld" looking vibe, from devilish backlit masks to naked, twisted, trees with occasional humanoid shapes in them. Less grim/hellish is the spacious washroom which has very different decor strongly evocative of Australian aboriginal rock art.
Strange as it sounds to actually recommend this, but if you go, make a point to go to the washroom. Also look around for other pieces of artwork that might be of interest. When I was there last Wednesday evening, the walls were lined with pieces from The Collected Paintings of Norman Leibovitch. Not exactly the cheeriest looking artwork, I must say.
Overall, Locus feels like it is more interested in being artsy than being a restaurant.

The restaurant is somewhat dimly lit, but if you are there earlier in the evening you can opt for a window seat, which definitely lets in more light but also exposes you to passers-by, especially from the bus stop right in front of the restaurant.
Seating is comfortably spacious yet the tree-like decor and the layout of the restaurant can still lend it a closed-in feel. There is a phoney log fireplace that wasn't giving out too much heat and our table was right in front of it -- right against it, in fact.

The online menu very helpfully includes beautiful shots of their food -- pictures which aren't on the paper in-house menu. So before you go, definitely check out the website (although your meal may not be EXACTLY as pictured...) Locus fare is organic and except for the desserts, are made in-house. Wild boar is on the menu in various dishes.

They also feature the newish "Sezmu Beef" ("says Moo", get it?) -- meat from cows that have been fed red wine. Supposedly this makes for a tenderer beef. I'm normally a sucker for strange meats, but as my appreciation of beef isn't really up to snuff (evidenced by my recent drop-in at Gotham Steakhouse), and as my dining companion was a vegetarian, I gave it a pass this time.
EDIT: 2012-Sep -- No longer available.

For dinner there was the obligatory basket of free bread, Mozzarella Beignets, Double-Smoked Cheddar Mac 'n Cheese, and Vegetarian Burger. After this we sadly had no room for dessert, so I had to pass on the vanilla mango cheesecake I had my eye on.
  • Bread
    • The very brown dough was tender, and cut into large squarish chunks. And it was cold! Urgh.
    • The softened (whipped?) butter was also brownish from the mix of spices in it, and jazzed up the bread nicely.
  • Mozzarella Beignets ($13) Sweet corn, prosciutto, and mozzarella beignets served on a nest of pea shoots with house-made ketchup.
    • This appy-sized order is four balls of deep-fried cheese. Each ball is about the size of a ping pong ball, so it works out to $3.25 a ball, which in turn works out to a pretty darned pricey appy.
    • A beignet is a donut-like deep-fried dough. There's no dough here so the similarily is in the deep-fried yumminess.
    • The deep fried cheese comes in a nice deep brown crunchy crust. Like most cheeses, it doesn't hold that lovely gooey melted state very long, so get cracking on it right away.
    • The description (sweet corn, prosciutto) makes it sound really much more interesting than it is. There's the corn, but mostly just patted on the outside of the cheese ball, so it didn't make any difference at all taste-wise to me. the prosciutto showed up as patches of red colour and had more of a flavour contribution than the corn, but still there wasn't enough to really be counted.
    • Basically, you're paying $13 for deep fried cheese. It's probably premium mozza, but I still can't justify the cost.
    • It's supposed to sit on a "nest of pea shoots" but I could have sworn my order sat on a lettuce leaf. Since I probably wouldn't have munched on the pea shoots anyway, I'll let this one go. I would have though the server might at least have mentioned it, though.
  • Double-Smoked Cheddar Mac 'n Cheese ($16) With broccoli florets, slow-roasted roma tomatoes, and crunchy bread crumb topping.
    • The smoked cheddar had a strangely bacon-ish smell to it. Overall I though this was okay, nothing to write home about, certainly not at $16.
    • Salad on the side.
  • Vegetarian Burger ($12 on the online menu, $13 on my bill) Roasted red pepper, mushroom and soy patty, lettuce, tomato, shaved red onion & asiago cheese, cilantro pesto mayo, on a homemade whole wheat kaiser bun.
    • Comes with a small salad on the side and a small mound of roasted potatoes.
    • The bun is smallish, about the size of a MacDonalds bun. So the generously sized veggie patty extended outward significantly, but even so, this burger looked strangely small. Probably an optical illusion from the prominent bun.
    • In the burger is also a thick slice of tomato and a thick slice of pickle. Maybe because of this thickness, the patty slid inside the burger when I picked it up to bite it. When that happened, I firmed my grip on the burger, which proved to be a mistake, because the patty broke apart into several chunks. My advice would be to deconstruct the burger into two open-faced burgers.
    • The pickle was strangely bland, with no bite to it at all. I probably got a freakish slice of pickle there.
    • The veggie patty was actually very delicious, with a mildly spicy flavour. If only the burger held together better... But just on its own like a "steak" was fine too.
    • Considering the cost of the other items, this was probably the best and most fairly-priced of the three items.
    • The online menu indicates +$2 for caramelized onions, which I think I would have gone for, except I didn't notice it on the printed menu and I wasn't asked. If you order this, you may want to consider it.
The bill, including one cocktail drink special for my dining companion ($7.25) was $49.25, just over $66 after tax and tip.

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