Thursday, October 27, 2011

Toronto: Buca

bright alley
:King West:

I had to interrupt my Montreal posts to share today’s lunch, but not to worry, I’ll be back tomorrow with Le Bremner…ooooh, ahhhhh...I know. 

I can say at this point that I seem to be on an ‘eat at unidentifiable’ restaurant phase. Last Saturday was Bremner (see tomorrow’s post), today was Buca. If you’re not looking for it, you will miss it. It’s next to Cheval. In fact, they share the same alleyway.

Tomorrow is a very special day, it’s Cracker’s birthday! So she and I met for lunch at Buca. She knows it well because she used to work around the corner from it. I, on the other hand, work up in Yorkville. How’d I make that work you wonder? Easy, I took a 3-hour lunch. The things I do for the friends I love.

Cracker and I are like two hungry hippos chilling in a swamp. We like to chat, eat, chat, eat some more, and then linger until it’s time to return to our separate areas to graze. That usually means the server has to come by a few times before we stop talking and look at the menu. It’s how the hippest hippos hang.

Buca was exactly what I thought it would be. Very, Cracker. Yes, she’s also an adjective. She knows design and seems to gravitate towards raw materials, clean spaces and simple details. Buca seemingly shares this vision.

Love this light fixture.
It used to be boiler house and you can still see it. It’s very industrial with huge ceilings. It’s actually basement level but they’ve opened it up so that a lot of light can shine through.
The lunch menu was pretty extensive, and priced average for King West. I hear they vary their lunch menu, although there are few constants, such as the rosemary, garlic bread knots:

Tasty adorable bumpkins
Service was slow to start, but got stellar and stayed that way throughout our long lunch.  It was long because as I indicated earlier, we like to chat.

Olive Ascolane – fried olives stuffed with lamb sausage

Crunchy, salty and tangy
Pizza, sadly, I don’t remember what this was called, but it had smoked buffalo cheese, chilies, and the day’s cured meats

Spicy, salty, and smoky

Bigoli – Homemade pasta with duck egg and a duck ragù with mascarpone and basil

OMG. I loved this dish. The portion is small, but lest we forget, we on King West.
Course if it were a little bigger, I would say I superloved it.
And because hippos like sweets, espresso and dessert:

Left - Pannacota | Right - Pumpkin Tart
Pannacotta with kiwi berries. KIWI BERRIES?!?! I Googled it because I’ve never heard of such a thing, much less tasted such a thing. I had to know more. Their proper term is actinidia arguta, or hard kiwi. Apparently it is native to Korea (amongst other countries). They are really delicious, and I think I love them.

It was a proper pannacotta. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ordered it at a restaurant and been served messed up pudding. This was creamy, delicately flavoured and delicious.

The tart tasted exactly how it smelled.  Sweet gelati, maple syrup and pistachios added textures and layers to the delicate tart and pumpkin filling.

If I had to choose the best dish of the day, I would go with the bigoli and the pannacotta.  The bread knots are also well-known but I think I want to try the pig ears next time. Word of warning, Buca doesn’t serve complimentary bread, which may be why people like the knots so much. If you have to pay for bread, why not getting something more creative.

Cracker’s probably grazing at home now, I’m semi-grazing at work, but I'm smiling. A well fed hippo is a happy hippo.

Buca on Urbanspoon

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