Miss Likklemores (Toronto)

For me, a restaurant’s a hit when I’m already planning on who I can return with during my first meal. Such was the case with Miss Likklemore’s, one spoon of the sock-you-in-the-mouth rice from the crab XO ($62) and I was hooked. If risotto made sweet love to a tropical gumbo, perhaps this is would be their love child. To say it’s flavourful is an understatement: there’s a rich savouriness, hits of tangy spice from pickled chilis, a sweet tropical essence from pineapple (?) and toasted coconut chips, and a hit of freshness from the occasional cilantro.

If this weren’t enough, pea sized chunks of crab are strewn throughout with a whole cluster nestled on top, slathered in butter, and topped with a mild XO sauce. It’s messy to eat but there’s something exhilarating about grabbing onto a crab leg and cracking it opened with your bare hands. If only there was some wet naps to deal with the after math… I feel sorry for the restaurant’s cleaners, no one should have to witness the state of my cloth napkin.

If Miss Likklemore’s was a real person, I sense she wouldn’t care about etiquette. The jerk chicken ($35) is carved but served bone-in so that those who are dainty can stick with the hunks of tender breast meat, but the real chicken fans will gladly grab onto the drumstick, thigh, or the ultra-flavourful wing. There wasn’t a dry portion on the bird and the flavours were bang on – a subtle spice that builds and lingers on the tongue but not overly pungent. If you want an extra boost of flavour, more gravy is included to douse and dip.

I would suggest tucking into the jerk chicken as soon as it arrives as it’s delicious when it’s piping hot. Because the dining room is heavily air conditioned, the protein cools down quickly and while it’s still tasty, the last bites are not nearly as good as the first.

Given the oxtail ($65) is swimming in gravy, it somewhat resists getting cold. Yet, you’ll want a few friends to order this sizeable dish as the pieces of beef are huge and meaty, the size of a short rib, cooked just to the point of tender without being overly soft. Still, after some of the more flavourful dishes, I did find the oxtail blander in comparison… ideally, this would be served with a hot sauce so diners could amp up the flavour on the gravy. And it’s a sauce you won’t want to waste so make sure to order a side of fragrant coconut rice ($12).

Even their rock shrimp ($26) surprised us. What looked like the typical battered nuggets – found in modern Japanese restaurants like Ki and Kasa Moto - have such a nuanced flavour at Miss Likklemores. The aioli is spicy but balanced with freshness from the finely chopped mint, and an almost citrusy finish that I can’t quite place (like lemongrass but not quite).

The doubles ($11 for two; $6 for additional) was another popular starter, the bara is fluffy and warm and filled with a savoury chickpea curry. It’s accompanied with tamarind chutney to give it some tanginess if that’s your thing.

Of all the dishes, only the fried snapper ($75) disappointed. While it was beautifully presented and the deboned fillets were cooked to flakey perfection, it was so heavily seasoned that the saltiness gave it a bitter tone. Ultimately, I had to scrape the snapper’s flesh out of the breading to enjoy it. Even then, I hardly needed the escovitch dipping sauce, the fish’s flesh already salty enough, indicating how much seasoning was used on the batter that it’d seep through so thoroughly.

On both weeknight visits, the service was attentive and top-notch, dishes arrive at a good clip without feeling overly rushed. If I had one complaint, it’d be nonchalant attitude to criticism. After each dish was presented, our server would give us ten minutes then stop by to see how things were tasting – us raving about how good it is, of course. Except for the fried snapper where I commented how overly salted it was that it’s barely edible. Disappointingly, there wasn’t a reaction… no “sorry to hear about that, I’ll let the chef know”, no offer for a replacement, nada. In my opinion, if a restaurant’s not ready to right a wrong, they shouldn’t bother asking for feedback to start.

The one slip up aside, I really enjoyed the dishes and even the snapper would have been an incredible dish if it weren’t double seasoned. I sense I’ll be seeing Miss Likklemores again. If she was personified, she’s certainly someone I’d love to become good friends with. 

Overall mark - 9 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 433 King Street West

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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