Sherman's Food Adventures: Locus Restaurant & Lounge

Locus Restaurant & Lounge

Recently, I was invited to try the updated menu at Locus Restaurant & Lounge.  For reference purposes, I did a quick look at my blog to see when the last time I had visited the place.  Wow, I haven't been back since 2013!   That was with the team after we had finished hockey on a late Friday night.  This time around, I brought the family out instead to sample their dinner menu.  As a bonus, our reservation was during their happy hour, so we were able to sample some of the items off that menu as well.

To kick things off, we chose 3 of the options on their happy hour menu including the Flaming Cheese featuring fried Kasseri in a cast iron skillet.  Similar to the Greek dish saganaki, this also came with grilled house-made focaccia, lemon garlic aioli and a lemon wedge.  The kids really enjoyed this as the melted cheese was nutty and sported crispy parts.  Add in the squeeze of lemon and this ate less heavy as the acidity lightened things up.  Bread was nicely toasted so it stood up the cheese.  Also plated in a cast iron skillet, the Cocktail Meatballs made with local ground chuck were accompanied by Argentinean
chimichurri, roasted grape tomatoes and grana padano.  The first thing that we noticed was the meatiness of the meatballs . This was because they didn't overprocess the beef.  The meat itself was natural tasting where the key to the dish was the tangy tomatoes along with the bright chimichurri.

I'm sure for most people, Deep Fried Brussels Sprouts are not really a new thing on restaurant menus these days.  So when this dish was recommended to us, I was skeptical that it would be any different than all of the others around.  I was wrong as this one featured black lavender honey which added a floral sweetness to the salty grana padano and roasted fried essence of the brussels sprouts.  The resulting colour was a bit odd, but it was appealingly sweet and aromatic.  Our last appie was the Jumbo Tiger Prawns with Pernod-infused fish nage, caramelized fennel and spinach.  This was a subtle dish where the flavours were not very pronounced, but definitely apparent.  Aromatic and slightly sweet, the "broth" didn't overwhelm the prawns, which were cooked perfectly exhibiting a meaty snap texture.

Onto our mains, Viv went for the Vancouver Island Ling Cod and Newfoundland Scallops plated atop an aggressive splash of beet puree.  This was a substantial dish with properly-prepared veggies topped with a piece of halibut.  The fish was cooked nicely where it wasn't dry while topped with a tangy and sweet mango pineapple chutney.  As much as the scallops were tender, they stood to have a more caramelization on the outside.  My daughter decided on the pan-fried Piave Gnocchi with wild & cultivated mushrooms, cranberry chutney, black kale, sweet peas, parsnip crema and piave vecchio shavings.  The dish featured large pillowy soft cheesy nuggets of gnocchi that were lightly seared.  I found the parsnip puree to be a nice creamy compliment while the kale and mushrooms provided a non-overwhelming presence on the plate. 

Once again, my son didn't deviate far from his favourites going with the 7oz grass-fed BC Brisket Chuck Burger with bacon, tomato, organic mixed greens, red onion, smoked cheddar, smoked paprika aioli and dill pickle on a potato bun.  Sporting a moist natural meaty texture, the patty was thick and nicely seared.  The bun was soft enough that it didn't dominate, yet while still holding together until the very end.  On the side, the house-cut fries were perfectly golden brown and crispy.  Interestingly, this was also served with a side salad in addition to the fries.  Loved tangy fruity dressing that came with it.  For myself, I went the 7 oz grass-fed Filet Mignon with merlot demi-glace, garlic mashed potatoes and veggies.  I know this sounds clichéd but the steak couldn't have been prepared any better (medium-rare).  It was succulent and properly rested.  I found the demi-glace to be flavourful with a delicious tanginess.  Veggies were also excellent being cooked just enough and seasoned properly.

For dessert, we had both the Cinnamon Sugar Churros with Nutella and the Chocolate Lava Cake.  As much as the churros were delicate and tender, we would've liked them to be crispier and also there was a bit too much sugar on the outside.  Loved the side of Nutella as it provided a different flavour other than the cinnamon sugar.  When we ordered the lava cake, we were informed it would take awhile since they do not have a microwave.  We we more than happy with that since a legit baked lava cake is so much better than a microwaved one!  Rich and not overly sweet with a nice bitter finish, the lava cake was more lava than cake.  My daughter didn't mind one bit and dusted it off.  Overall, we enjoyed our meal at Locus and wondered why it took me so long to come back.  Seeing how they have a new chef who has only been at the helm for one month, the general execution is impressive.  

*Food and drink were partially complimentary, tips were extra*

The Good:
- Proteins are properly prepared
- Portion sizes are fairly large
- Good variety on the menu

The Bad:
- Churros could be crispier with less sugar

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