Optimistically Cautious

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Out, damn'd fly! Out, I say: Packrat Louie

After being turned away from Sapphire, which appeared to be permanently closed, Mack and I wandered over to the nearby Packrat Louie (10335 83 Avenue) for a pre-show bite on Tuesday night.

My first experience at the restaurant a few years ago was ruined due to an incessant fly, and though the staff and food were all right at the time, I haven't been able to ever bring myself back. However, I read that they had revamped the menu in the spring, so was a tad curious and wanted to give it another chance.

Packrat Louie is just one of those places that is better at night. The dining room, sleek with its aged hardwood floor, exposed brick and wooden beams, was aglow from the individual tabletop candles, and reminded me of an inherent elegance shared by Toronto's Crush. As well, butcher paper laid on top of the white linens lent itself to a slightly more casual feel, while the open kitchen encountered just through the main entrance was a comforting sight to see.

We were coincidentally seated in the back corner of the restaurant - quiet, but also the site of my unfortunate insect encounter during my last visit. Our server explained that their new winter menu took affect that day, so no specials were in order. That was fine - there were more than a few entrees that piqued my interest. I settled on the Roasted Vegetable Artisan Ravioli, served with house-made ratatouille and shredded Grana Padano parmesan ($20), while Mack opted for the Prosciutto & Pineapple wood-fired pizza ($15), and the Pan Seared Calamari ($14) to start.

The appetizer arrived in no time, and although Mack discovered he preferred the fried version, we didn't mind Packrat's take on calamari. At the very least, the curry sauce and spinach were a delicious combination, and the mango chutney provided an interesting flavour contrast. Our mains were also quite good - Mack claims his pizza was "better than Bridges," and my ravioli was filling, but not too heavy, and included quite a generous serving of vegetables.

We were nearly through our meal when to my shock and horror - a fly buzzed to our table out of nowhere. Nearly November, I really thought we had entered the safety zone when it came to nuisance insects, but clearly, I was mistaken. While this won't cause me to completely write Packrat Louie off, I have to wonder.

Service was great throughout, though I think our server did step over the line of being too keen. That said, besides the fly, I had a wonderful time. Better than Flavours on the next street over, I would highly recommend Packrat Louie as the precursor of choice for a night out at the theatre.

Pan Seared Calamari

Prosciutto & Pineapple Pizza

Roasted Vegetable Artisan Ravioli

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