Dishes at Local Kitchen & Wine Bar are great enough to keep to yourself. Only share if you really like your date! — Photo courtesy of Etienne Labbe / Local Kitchen & Wine Bar
Quick: picture one of the best meals of your life. Chances are that it had more than food going for it. Great company, a unique atmosphere and even emotional satisfaction can be factors in what makes a meal memorable.
Local Kitchen & Wine Bar is one of those Toronto restaurants that has the potential to stand out in a sea of restaurants that are vying for your attention. It doesn't always do things differently. It does, however, do things right, in a way that will help your taste buds to imprint the experience.
Free corkage on Monday nights means that wine can flow freely — Photo courtesy of Etienne Labbe / Local Kitchen & Wine Bar
The menu is skewed to the Italian side of things, but like many Toronto restaurants, it isn't wholeheartedly committed. As it's also concerned with paying tribute to local cuisine, sometimes dishes are Canadian (like the deer head on the wall – but that's another story).
It is worth going for a multi-course menu, which will run you about $150 for two (including wine). Freshly pulled mozzarella is pulled for two, making for an updated version of Lady and the Tramp. (We won't say who the tramp is.)
Toast to a very good decision: eating here — Photo courtesy of Etienne Labbe / Local Kitchen & Wine Bar
Chef and Co-owner Fabio Bondi is in the kitchen early every morning to roll out pasta that is so good, you will swear that you have never tried pasta before. It's both luxuriously silky and fresh.
Menus change regularly, but if the smoked potato gnocchi is a possibility, we implore you: eat it. Eat it now.
Bondi is smart enough to know that pasta that is so flavorful only needs simple and fresh ingredients. Expect anything from homemade meat sauce to fresh basil and vine-ripened tomatoes.
There are no words for the gnocchi — Photo courtesy of Etienne Labbe / Local Kitchen & Wine Bar
Serving sizes are relatively small, which is a wonderful way to save people from themselves. Check on the chalkboard menu for the daily specials, or ask one of the eloquent servers what your belly can expect that evening. It adds to the romantic and hip vibe.
This is a restaurant that really wants you to care about what you eat, and they'll respect you all the more for it.
Look to the chalkboard for the specials — Photo courtesy of Etienne Labbe / Local Kitchen & Wine Bar
There are a few treats if you reserve in advance. One is the chef's table, which costs $50 per person and fits two. The experience will become entirely interactive, as you learn more about your food and watch the magic of the kitchen.
The second is the phenomenal deal on Monday night, which provides a four-course fixed price menu for $40 and free corkage on the wine that you bring. In Toronto, there's rarely a better deal than that.
And quite honestly, there's rarely a better restaurant than Local Kitchen & Wine Bar.
Charcuterie is an excellent choice for an appetizer — Photo courtesy of Etienne Labbe / Local Kitchen & Wine Bar