There’s a reason why Carl Heinrich (Richmond Station), Michael Smith (Food Network) and Nick Liu (DaiLo) are all singing Dave Mottershall’s praises. Rob Gentile (Buca) even went so far as to say that Mottershall could soon end up running one of the best restaurants in the country. That’s high praise, considering Rob Gentile is the man behind one of last year’s most successful Toronto restaurant openings. As his kickstarter campaign (#KickStartLoka) continues to garner support from the industry, some of the who’s who of food in this city are telling you to pay attention to Dave Mottershall. And you should be.
Mottershall’s food is just that good, and the “Eat the Menu” option at his Loka Snacks popup is among the best $40 you can spend on food in Toronto right now. Order the menu and you’ll be rewarded with an elegant (yet very fun) 6-course meal that runs the gamut from pickled fish to a pig’s head croquette. His charcuterie is especially noteworthy in a city where restaurants are overrun with mediocre cured meats. Mottershall’s made-in-house offerings stand out and remind you why we all got so excited about charcuterie in the first place a couple years back. You can find prosciutto just about anywhere. Finding a plate of house-cured lamb shoulder that’s on par with the one Mottershall serves up is a whole different story.
At the time of publication, Loka Snacks’ menu features:
- Pickled whitefish with watermelon remoulade and burnt bread (seen above)
- Pignic plate with lonza, lardo, pancetta and ham jam with pickled mushrooms
- Smoked tomato with goat ricotta and strawberry sorbet
- Charred broccoli with peach bourbon BBQ sauce and kimchi mayo
- Pig head croquette with ramp mustard and pickled strawberries (featured image and seen below)
- Salted chocolate fudge with whey caramel and vanilla goat yogurt
Loka Snacks’ menu also often features the “Pig Mack,” a sandwich filled with pancetta and Mottershall’s take on special sauce, all dressed like a Big Mac. The bun, my server is quick to point out, is one of the few things they don’t make in-house (but they do take the time and add their own sesame seeds to round out that classic Mac look). Order this, but make sure you’ve got someone to split it with (it’s amazing, but quite rich).
I’ve been following Loka Snacks over the past year or so, watching it gain momentum and enjoying some very good food along the way. The ever-changing menu hits on all the obvious trends that have been dominating the food scene lately: just about everything is house made, there are lots of off cuts, and locally sourced and/or foraged ingredients are front and centre. What’s impressive though, is how Mottershall’s menu reinforces the fact that these shouldn’t really be trends at all. This should just be the way it’s done.