I've been going to Laika for more than ten years but never review it, perhaps because it's so reliable I forget to make the point. The chic of a decade ago has definitely become more shabby, but not its detriment. In fact it seems to have grown comfortable with itself, and has become part of the landscape of the Main. The thing is, something seriously wonderful is happening in the kitchen at Laika, especially at weekends, and I feel like shouting about it (I also feel like keeping it a secret). Today's brunch special will serve as a case in point about a chef that knows the classics and how to augment them. A large piece of black pudding (boudin noir) topped with poached eggs and sitting atop a parsnip puree might have come straight out of the Fergus Henderson playbook. It's brilliant as is. But sitting either side of this wonder is a peach salsa (peaches right in season) and a blueberry sauce. The whole thing is scattered with crumbled pecans. This is really clever thinking. The dish is perfectly balanced, tastes like the comfort of the earth under one's feet, and would set up even the most indolent waif for a solid day of voyeurism on the Plateau. A steal at $17. The rest of the menu is comprised of quality ingredients and at really bottom-end prices. Coffee is redolent of Rome or Madrid. They privately import wines. One can sit and work, sit and watch the world, or bring one's kids. Why wouldn't you? Bravo, Laika. Right up there at the top of my neighbourhood's casual eating and drinking destinations.
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