LULA CAFE @ LULA LOUNGE (1585 Dundas West, at Brock, 416-?588-?0307) Complete lunches/brunches for $20 per person, including all taxes, tip and a domestic beer. Open Tuesday to Sunday 10 am to 4 pm. Closed Monday, holidays. Licensed. Rating: NNN
Call me a fuddy-duddy, but when it comes to being addressed by serving staff, I’m with 90s thrash metal punks Scatterbrain: Hey, dude, don’t call me dude.
Yet that’s the way we’re greeted – complete with hearty handshake, no less – last Friday upon entering Lula Café, the curbside cantina that’s just opened in the Lula Lounge. Oh, that his enthusiasm extended to waiting on tables rather than spinning retro vinyl on a turntable hooked up to a pair of crappy speakers. So what if we have to ask for menus, napkins, pepper and the bill?
The room is a riot of clashing tropical turquoise and pink, and a large front window opens to the cacophony of the street. Chef Derek Crinson’s daytime card also reflects the club’s island aesthetic with dishes like jump-fried goat cheese salad with mango salsa ($9) and a grilled steak sandwich ($13) dolled up with chipotle sauce and horseradish cream.
We start with Tres Huevos ($9), a sauté of chorizo, bacon, roasted red peppers and ’shrooms layered with a rough scramble, like some DIY frittata. Oddly plated over a Cuban black bean and corn guiso relish (at first, we think the kitchen’s forgotten it, but we eventually find it under los huevos), it also includes a roughly cut salad of cukes ’n’ tomato, a chive or two and pesto-spread whole wheat toast.
The smoked salmon plate ($10) finds thin sheets of Norwegian lox tossed with red onion and capers draped over house greens in ranch dressing. Sided with new potatoes in olive oil and fresh dill, grilled asparagus and a squoosh of sour cream piped out of a pastry bag, it shows the skill of which the kitchen’s capable.
Shame an unfinished order of frozen french fries with bottled ketchup ($2.99) inspires our parting remark: Yo later, dude.