This winter I fell in love with rum. I’m not talking a “Spring Break Bacchanal,” rather a newfound appreciation for the history, process and passion latinos have for their golden sugarcane spirit. Reflecting on the last few months I realize I’ve had literally hundreds of mojitos, inspired by the lush rainforest and breezy beaches of Jamaica, Cuba, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Miami and Curacao.
While there is most certainly a thrill to sipping a mint and lime muddled cocktail on the beach in the middle of February while coconut tan oil wafts off your skin…truth be told, Toronto offers its own slice of Latino-land year round at Lula Lounge on Dundas West.
It was Good Friday when I met my good friend Joaquin for dinner to celebrate our much belated April birthdays. At the end of every work week Lula Lounge celebrates with a jam packed agenda: live Jazz at 8pm, Salsa dancing lessons at 9:30pm and an enthusiastic Cuban band which goes live at 10:30pm and plays until the wee hours of the morning.
The lounge offers a prix fixe for those looking to enjoy a latin inspired feast. Joaquin and I shared a few pretty plates while sipping on mojito and margarita as a three piece jazz band crooned on stage. Highlights included crispy chicken wings tossed in cajun-lim rum and sweet finish Tarta de Almandra featuring a slice of fresh almond cake, pineapple, cherry caramel and coconut whipped cream.
Just as our dinner was winding down a crowd hopped on the dance floor for a step by step lesson on the art of salsa dancing. By 11pm a 14 member Cuban band hopped on stage blasting out beats to a room full of both novice and wildly skilled dance fans. Watching one particular couple zoom sensually across the floor cheek-to-cheek was a pleasant reminder that the rhythm and mood of Salsa really is the closest one can get to having sex while standing up. Serving up sensuality, for the win.
guacamole, refried beans, fire roasted tomato salsa
Alas de Pollo
crispy chicken wings tossed in cajun-lime rub, hot sauce and herbed sour cream
8oz AAA angus, chipotle hollandaise, roasted mushrooms, criolla salad, rice & beans
grilled medallions, sweet potato & rutabaga mash, cider braised red cabbage, pineapple mostarda
Lemon Curd Parfait
layers of sweet cream, lemon curd, shortbread crumble, raspberry
Tarta de Almandra
almond cake, pineapple, cherry caramel, coconut whipped cream