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Wednesday, 11 September 2013

We Can Work It Out

I subscribe to the trite old adage that when a door closes a window opens.  In line with this theory, I can say that when a favourite, much frequented restaurants go pear-shaped, a new exciting eatery opens to tantalize you.

It is with much regret that I have to pan two of my all time favourite go-to restaurants - La Luna and The Capri.

I have been frequenting La Luna since the late 1980's.  My friend Terry took me there for the first time.  It was the first time that I had ever tried middle-eastern cuisine was hooked from the very first bite.  It was known as The Sheik back then and it was located on the corner of King & Victoria.  It eventually grew in popularity (I'm pretty sure thanks to Terry) and moved to a larger location on King between Caroline & Hess.  They eventually took over the building next door, expanding into an even larger restaurant, changed their name to La Luna and became one of the city's destination live music venues of the 1990's (I saw Carol Pope, Holly McNarland, Rufus Wainwright and not to mention countless local bands there).  La Luna continued to grow in the new millennium, moving to it's current location at King & Queen.  La Luna expanded the eating area once again and the live music branched off to the adjoining (but separately managed)  music venue The Casbah.   This past summer La Luna closed it's doors for a few weeks to renovate.  All the La-Luna-ites were a-buzz with wondering how it was going to reinvent itself for this decade.  It was a shock to all to hear that their philosophy was to no longer serve liquour--considering that La Luna has made a hefty profit from liquour sales for over 25 years.  I absolutely will still pop by for late work night take out, but no longer will this be a destination for our frequent girly dinners.  Sorry, but girl gotta have a little vino with her meal. 

Next on my reluctant hit list is The Capri.  A Hamilton institution since 1967 and another frequent girly dinner destination (1967 is when it opened, not when we began our girly dinners -- we are not THAT old), although the liquour license is intact, the shocking part is how badly the quality of their food has declined.  La Luna and The Capri are the only two restaurants in which I order the same thing all of the time.  At The Capri, my standard is the caprese salad and the spaghetti with tomato sauce.  Usually it so good I have to refrain myself from licking the plate (I don't know what stopped me because I tend to think that couth is over-rated).  The caprese, once drizzled with an amazing vinaigrette is now a plate of mushy tomatoes and boccaccini with a watered down white vinegar.  The sauce that now tops the pasta is best described as tomato water as opposed to tomato sauce as it so thin and runny.

OK - enough negativity and dwelling in the past.  Time to look forward.

Work is one of the latest additions to the gentrified James Street North is a hip eatery located beside This Ain't Hollywood.   It has a varied selection (no menus,  the changing items are written on a chalk board) with excellent craft beers on tap and an impressive local wine selection.  The Fella had the spaghetti and meatballs which put The Capri to shame.  I had the blackened sole (because you are what you eat) and we split an order of the avocado fries.  Everything was excellent.  There is nothing worse that going to a restaurant and being disappointed because you could have made a better meal at home.  This is not the case with Work.  I can't wait to go back and hoping that this will be the destination for our next girly dinner.  Walking down James North we also discovered a new rotisserie restaurant that had opened (Charred Rotisserie) and a "coming soon" new Italian restaurant and pizza bar.  Out with the old, in with the new...