Urban Forager

The trio of Loki’s Garage, from left, Luke Walsh, Marcus Lenk and Alethea Trovao.

Naming your restaurant after the Norse God, Loki, a mischievous shape-shifter, seems a fitting spirit guide, especially when plans change.

What started out as a 10-year goal for Luke Walsh, a restaurant front-of-house veteran, to move to and open a place in Penticton, became a fast switching of gears when the former Burger 55 space came available last year.

Buoyed by its proximity to Cannery Brewing, as well as the influx of other new hospitality businesses in the downtown core such as Tratto, Wayne & Freda and the soon-to-open Neighbourhood Brewing, he knew the time was right to pounce. He flew out his buddy, chef Marcus Lenk, from Edmonton (the two had worked together at a Vancouver restaurant) and headhunted the talented Penticton chef Alethea Trovao, before signing the papers and making Loki’s Garage a reality.

The trio set to work quickly formulating a fun, fast casual menu for lunch, brunch and dinner, and hired their entire staff to ready themselves for an April 8th opening. Then COVID-19 hit. Pivoting and shifting, the trio concentrated their efforts instead on DIY interior improvements, and eliminated brunch and dinner plans to focus on take-out, with minimal outdoor seating.

Launched May 8, the game plan has proved popular. A standout from their hot sandwiches and burgers list includes housemade pastrami — they prepare at least six briskets a week to keep up with demand. The grilled sandwich is heartily layered with brisket along with housemade sauerkraut and melted gruyere cheese on toasty buttermilk-potato bread, also made in-house.

Another hit is their housemade chorizo that rivals — in my opinion — the Argentinian Choripan, from the much missed Saturday summer food stall. Juicy and full-flavoured, Loki’s version on warm ciabatta is smothered with a special sauce that finds smoked paprika as the protagonist.

Hand-cut fries are another unique feature here, with a choice of dipping sauces such as the Seattle of fresh garlic and parsley, Dutch frite sauce, Portuguese piri-piri, a Greek flourish of feta and tzatziki, or the Montreal-inspired poutine with cheese curds, pastrami and gravy. To balance things out, there are a few salads, soups and vegan offerings.

As our province opens up, Loki’s is following suit with brunch starting July 11th, with comforting offerings of eggs and pastrami hash, paella, and chicken and waffles. Dinner is also in the near future along with a liquor license. Loki’s is shaping up just fine.

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Q & A with the Loki’s team (edited for brevity)

What is your most memorable meal?

LW: On Glenora Farm in Duncan with steaks on a fire pit.

ML: In Argentina on my uncle’s cattle ranch. We made a fire on the hillside and cooked meat Argentinian-style.

AT: When my great-aunt passed away, after the funeral we went back to her house. She had cooked something when she was still alive, and frozen it. It was a beautiful stew, and we went there and ate what she had made for us.

Most underrated ingredient?

AT: Garlic. It needs to be in everything. It adds a depth of flavour.

ML: Oranges. We don’t use them enough.

What’s always in your fridge?

ML: Butter and eggs.

AT: Sriracha.

LW: Cold beer for after work.

What songs are always on your playlist?

AT: Billy Joel.

ML: Anything by Queens of the Stone Age.

LW: Genesis.

What’s your go-to breakfast?

AT: Cereal with bananas.

ML: Sunny-side-up eggs, toast, sausage or bacon.

What’s your go-to meal on your day off, whether at home or in a restaurant?

ML: Popeye’s fried chicken.

LW: My mom’s spareribs.

AT: Do I have days off?

Ingredient you can’t live without?

LW: Cajun seasoning.

AT: Salt.

ML: Butter.

What kitchen gadget/tool is the most important?

AT: Chef’s knife.

ML: Tongs.

LW: Our potato chipper!

With fork and pen in hand, and a passion for culinary adventure, Shelora Sheldan, a Penticton writer, cook and traveller, goes in search of the delectable.