When it is minus 30 and you are strapped for time, desire to look around for a place to eat plummets like a thermometer bar in late January. Nonetheless, we spent good 10 minutes contemplating different options around King West of Bathurst. Besides a few generic looking Asian joints and some franchises, there is not much to choose from, to be honest. That was the case until we saw Luce on the south side close to King and Niagara. The place is large, but with dimmed lights outside – we almost passed it and that would have been a waste if we did.

Rustic look, gluten free and vegan options, organic choices…Luke is a very likable neighborhood café. There was no one inside on a Tuesday evening, but we enjoyed the undivided attention of our waiter as a benefit. This restaurant is owned by a husband & wife and one of the walls is decorated with their parents’ vintage photos – an adorable touch adding to the overall atmosphere. There were more interesting elements to catch our eyes: the brick walls are lined with bottles, old crates stacked by the entrance and exposed brick walls to list a few. There were retractable garage doors towards the street, which probably open-up to a lovely patio in the summer.

As far as the food goes, the selection is fairly traditional for a small café / restaurant. All the dishes are made by a “Sicilian cook with a temper” as the menu proclaimed – “do not rush her or she will get upset”. It is worth your time to read the simple looking menu actually. There are lots of interesting quirky jewels like that if one is reading carefully. Ma Cherie especially liked the one stating that, no alternations are possible as it would be a shame for its creator. Shortly after sitting down, our glasses were promptly filled with water and a plate of focaccia with a side of olive oil, balsamic and rosemary landed in the middle of the table a few minutes later – a lovely touch.

We took our time selecting our dishes, while warming up in the process. Our waitress let us know that their food is know as “barcode-free” – being an organic and natural restaurant they offer free range meats and all dishes are home-made. Hearing this made us both appreciate this restaurant much more, knowing our struggle trying to cook and eat a free range chicken. I decided to give their tuna “version of a stir fry” a try. They pointed it as a “low carb” dish. Ma Cherie went for their Anchovy Pasta. Remembering the statement on the menu, we prepared to endure, however long it too. TO our surprise that was only 5 minutes before our dishes flew out. The lack of clients most likely played a part here, there might have actually been a long wait if the place was full. The dishes were full and steamy hot. Just what we expected!

The stir fry had generous chunks of tuna and chewy pieces of fried eggplant, in a tomato base with onions, peppers and mushrooms. The tuna might have not been the best choice of meat, it did dry up the dish a lot. It was an interesting choice none-the-less. The anchovy pasta smelled beautifully. It had a tomato-base sauce as well as well as onion, olives and capers. Our polite waitress came back with parmesan and pepper.

This is definitely a place to visit. The prices are exceptionally reasonable for the amount and quality of food you get. There is a large variety of beers (including local specialties) to choose from which we unfortunately passed on. Some of these alcohols could be a good pairing for the hearty food. This neighborhood is going through a transformation and Luce will likely benefit in the transition as more people move into the area. We would highly recommend a visit for a genuine meal with soul.

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