Food and Drink: Lisa Marie

A few weeks ago, before my unbelievable trip to Italy (more on that later), I met my best friend C for dinner. C and I have been friends for 20 years – we met as 4-year-olds playing in the mud. Seriously. Over the past few years our schedules have made it increasingly more difficult to spend time together, but when the stars align and we find a free evening to hang out we always try something new and different. We decided to head to Lisa Marie, the new bricks and mortar eatery by the team behind the ever popular Fidel Gastro’s food truck.

The spacious dining room, completely transformed from its former life as Prague European Kitchen, is a little bit industrial and a little bit rock and roll. The wooden communal tables, steel stools and Edison bulb lamps give Lisa Marie a trendy Queen West vibe, while a giant mural of Elvis gazes down over patrons. But the best part of the dining room at Lisa Marie is the garage door that faces Queen Street. When C and I visited, the door was open giving the dining room a patio-like feel.

We started our evening with a round of cocktails. C opted for a Caesar, while I ordered a Malocchio Sour. The Caesar was served in a pint glass and garnished with house-made hot sauce, pickled green beans and a rim of salt and pepper. My Malocchio Sour – which I ordered for its fantastic name - was a mix of Sailor Jerry rum, egg whites and limonata. The egg whites calmed the tang of the limonata creating a perfectly balanced and refreshing cocktail. It was so good I had another.

The menu at Lisa Marie focuses on cicchetti, a Venetian term for small dishes, described as “kind of like tapas…but not." These small plates are priced between $5 and $12, meaning you can order a variety of items without breaking the bank. C and I decided on the deep fried pizza, the turkey wing and the special of the night, shrimp and grits.

The deep fried pizza was topped with smoked duck, chicharron, enoki and asparagus slaw, and hoisin sauce. The combination of succulent smoked duck and crispy chicharron gave the pizza amazing texture, further accented by the sweet and spicy hoisin.

The turkey wing is available in two flavours; hoisin chilli and buffalo style. We opted for the buffalo style wing. The massive deep fried turkey wing was perfectly crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, with meat that literally fell of the bone. The buffalo sauce was spicy, but not overwhelmingly so. The wing was served with blue cheese aioli and pickled carrots and celery, a tasty counterpart to the spicy sauce.

Next we sampled the shrimp and grits – a larger plate meant to be shared. The creamy grits were topped with sauteed shrimp, green tomatoes, jalapeƱos, sour cream, queso fresco and cilantro, giving the dish a Mexican flavour. The shrimp and grits were served with a bag of freshly baked bread, perfect for mopping up the grits.

For dessert we decided on the bone marrow doughnuts. While C is usually very adventurous when it comes to food, she was slightly weirded-out by the addition of bone marrow to dessert, which meant a bit of convincing on my part. When the doughnuts arrived we were both pleasantly surprised. The doughnuts were golden brown in colour, dusted in cinnamon sugar and served with a raspberry dipping sauce. The addition of the bone marrow meant that the doughnuts were unbelievably moist.

The formula at Lisa Marie is decidedly simple – relaxed atmosphere, accompanied by a great playlist, and delicious comfort food that’s meant for sharing. Definitely worth an ole!

Pictures 1 and 2 courtesy of BlogTo and Toronto Life.

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