By ANNE DESBRISAY
There’s a woman’s touch at work here, at the new Das Lokal in Lowertown. Much thoughtfulness and whimsy in the decor.
There’s also very little of the KFC this Dalhousie Street building used to be. A pale yellow piano occupies one wall. Giant red plastic pendants light up the bar, and pillar candles line all the ledges. The table tops are fashioned with wide, rough, whitewashed planks, except where they become soapstone surfaced, found on the raised banquettes that fill the back of the room. To warm winter bottoms, the metal chairs all have fuzzy white faux-sheepskin throws on their seats. A garland of gingham — great granny’s dresses, torn into strips? — runs the diagonal of the room and, tucked into the corner close to the bar, is a wee shelving unit lined with wooden toys and Noah’s animals. In case the kids come.
My first taste of the new Das Lokal was at noon. I started with the day’s soup (butternut squash) served with Nat’s great bread, and then chose the “tartelette du jour” with a green salad and roasted vegetables. Other than the texture of the soup — puréed to baby food smooth — the flavour was intensely squashy, perfumed with nutmeg and slightly sweetened with a dollop of maple flavoured crème fraiche.
The best part about the chicken pot pie tartelette was the salad — very bouncy-fresh and tossed in a memorable sherry vinaigrette. The ‘pie’ was a deconstructed affair, with a square of browned puff pastry beneath a ladle full of what was really creamed potato, with a bit of carrot and squash. I counted three tiny bits of meat (guinea hen, apparently, in place of chicken). It could have used more flavour as well — herbs might have helped, along with a whole lot less potato and a bit more meat. The pastry was fine, though to call this a pot pie — even a partitioned one — was a stretch. The vegetables (roasted fennel, red onion, squash) were nicely grill marked but still a bit crunchy for my liking and all underseasoned.
So not a super duper lunch, but still, I enjoyed the feel of the place, and look forward to mining the dinner menu soon.
Soup, $8; tartelette, $13
Das Lokal, 190 Dalhousie Street, 613-695-1688, twitter.com/DasLokal