It seems as though Toronto’s restaurant industry insiders (the cool cats that muddle your cocktails, smiling sommeliers and flame-taming cooks) have a serious crush on Chef Craig Harding.
After stepping into the sun-soaked dining room at La Palma I was surprised to see that on a Monday at 6pm the place was packed. I was dining that evening with TUM Queen Hassel Aviles and seafood loving Chef Charlotte Langley – happy to see Toronto’s tight-knit restaurant family out in droves on industry night to taste the popular chef’s freshest offering.
Chef Harding first delighted Toronto with his signature roasted grapes paired with creamy burrata at Campagnolo. He clearly loves Dundas Street West (which has grown up to be the trendiest strip to eat in town) as he recently opened a new eatery right across the street.
After Chef Harding’s spouse and Creative Director Alexandra Hutchison paid a trip to California she noticed that Venice Beach and Trinity-Bellwoods shared a similar artistic spirit and home for artists, designers and creators.
From this simple connection La Palma was born. The restaurant’s design aesthetic reflects Venice Beach’s art-centric vibe while Chef Harding’s menu has an Italian heart with dishes that whimsically reflect California’s playful culinary sensibility.
Highlights from La Palma include a veggie-heavy offering featuring roasted Heirloom Carrots and Baby Gem Salad, creamy Chicken Liver & Vin Cotto Crostino, crunchy pizza topped with zucchini, chantrelles, ricotta and lemon, creamy Sweet Pea Agnolotti and sizzling skillet filled with finger-licking-good Wood-Fired Cornish Hen.
White Negroni Sbagliato | dry vermouth, luxardo bitter blanco, prosecco, orange zest
La Palma | montenegro, aperol, orange, lime, egg white, mint, house bitters
Heirloom Carrots | toasted sunflower tahini, chermoula
Baby Gem Salad | candied walnuts, pickled onion, pecorino
Chicken Liver & Vin Cotto Crostino
Pizza | zucchini, chantrelles, ricotta, lemon
Sweet Pea Agnolotti | arugula pesto and stracchino
Wood-Fired Cornish Hen
Chorizo Meatballs | baked in shepard peppers
Flatiron & Salsa Verde