The Reveal – La Palma
Take Campagnolo’s owners – husband-and-wife team Craig Harding and Alexandra Hutchison – and give them the expansive space of recently closed Caffe Brasiliano across the street and whaddya get?
An all-day dining mecca that’s cool and casual, boasting healthy, vibrant Italian – with a dose of sunny Californian – veg-focused fare, coffee and cocktails in a captivating bright space that oozes charm and charisma. Like a fun, fabulous dinner party you never want to leave.
Say hello to your favourite new spot in the city.
From pastries first thing, to lunch, dinner and dessert, La Palma has got you.
Harding designed the playful menu so that “you can have the food in a lot of different ways, what entices you,” he says.
Menu items include Fried Squash Blossoms ($10), Chicken Liver & Vin Cotto ($8), nine veg dishes (Kohlrabi, Radish & Pomegranate $10, for example), fish, pasta, meat and pizza, with dishes ranging from just $6-$20. Which means it’s one of the few new restaurants that you can actually afford to eat on the regular.
An exciting feature in the kitchen is the parrilla – an Argentinean grill that Harding got to know while filming a TV show with chef Rob Rossi. This low and slow method of cooking imparts a slight smokiness to ingredients. Between this and the wood-burning oven, it’s the kitchen of your dreams.
And whatever you do, don’t pass on the pastries – from the Hibiscus Honey Grilled ($3) and Salted Caramel ($3.50), Doughnuts to Miso Chocolate Tart ($4.50), the Led Zeppole ($4) with matcha and coconut filling, these swoon-worthy desserts are worth the extra calories.
Daniel Castro, a renowned mixologist, believes what’s outside the glass is more important than what’s in the glass. His finesse and grace translates to the glass, where cocktails are elegant and sophisticated, never fussy or pretentious.
The wine list features labels from across the globe (5 oz. gls $9-$15, btl $39-$175). At these prices, a liquid lunch is absolutely doable.
A collection of brews ($4-$20), cider ($15 & $42), coffee, tea and “soft” cocktails (non-alcoholic, $6) are also available.
Fixtures and Fittings
Creative Director & Designer Alexandra Hutchison found “unexpected parallels” to their Trinity-Bellwoods 'hood on a recent trip to Venice Beach. From the street art to the vibrant neighbourhood and community of the two areas, the concept came together with ease.
The room is “light and airy, reflective of the health, freshness and vibrancy of the food.”
Local artist Madison van Rijn created the mural. Green strokes are an homage to watercolour and classical art; black swatches, a nod to street art; van Rijn’s “go-to” pink lines were “what it needed to give it a third layer,” says Hutchison.
The breathtaking space features Mid-Century modern chairs, custom designed tables, and brass lighting with an art deco vibe. Hutchison rebuilt and reupholstered Caffe Brasiliano’s stools - “I wanted to bring an old element of the café into the new." Stunning doesn't even begin to cover it.
The open kitchen is “one of my favourite spaces,” Hutchison says. A striking copper hood and pizza oven creates a dramatic framework for the bustling kitchen area. Dinner and a show.
Pink Tartan – designed and produced in Canada by Kimberley Newport Mimran - designed the server’s two uniforms: one more casual, the other “more fashion forward,” says Hutchison. The tees are such a hit with guests; they’ll soon be available for purchase.
Off the Menu
La Palma ($13, 2 oz.) La Palma’s house cocktail of Montenegro, Aperol, orange, lime, egg white, fresh mint leaves and house bitters is vivacious and refreshing – the perfect summer cocktail.
Stracchino, Cured Tomatoes & Oregano Crostino ($8) Well-grilled thick, chewy slices of housemade sourdough is drizzled with addictive olive oil. Topped with fresh, light Stracchino – a cultured, tangy Italian cow’s-milk cheese – oven-dried diced tomatoes with oregano, fresh basil and a little fleur de sel flourish, it's rustic, yet refined and impeccably balanced. Italian simplicity at its best.
Heirloom Carrots ($10) Heirloom carrots are tossed in coriander seed, then roasted. Dollops of toasted sunflower tahini and buffalo mozzarella are set on the thick ceramic dish, while chermoula (a mixture of fresh herbs, garlic, pickled onion and olive oil spices) and sunflower seeds top the root veg. Firm with just slight give, the carrots boast a bright acidity and saltiness that delights the palate.
Sweet Pea Agnolotti ($16) Want to experience the taste of summer? Look no further than this mouthwatering dish. Delicate thin pasta envelops arugula pesto, nestled in with a refined leek soubise, fresh peas bursting with earthy freshness, Stracchino, lemon and pea shoots. Perfection.
Flatiron & Salsa Verde ($17) An 8 oz. butlers’ steak is simply grilled, allowing a subtle smokiness to come through that never cloaks the grassy iron flavour. Topped with a vibrant salsa verde and minced pickled onions, it's intensely satisfying.
All-day dining from coffee to cocktails is available 7 days a week. The dining room accommodates 52 guests. Takeout is also available.
At the Stove: Chef Craig Harding, Executive Chef Julian D'Ippolito
Head Honchos: Craig Harding and Alexandra Hutchison
FOH: Davis Snider, General Manager
Map it: 849 Dundas St. W. (at Euclid)
Sundays to Wednesday 8am – 10pm
Thursdays to Satursdays 8am – 11pm
Phone it in: 416-368-4567
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