Alexandra Hutchinson and her chef partner Craig Harding add a new, retro-inspired dining room to La Palma restaurant
You could call the secret sauce behind Casa La Palma’s distinctive aesthetic “Memories of Mid-century Modern.” The characteristic blond wood is there in the form of chairs, walls and a bar, and the lines are all either straight or balletically curved (millwork courtesy of Toronto’s Jeff Crews). But those lights running up the stairs from the street, and the oh-so-2019 sconces and chandelier by Anony ensure this is no mere exercise in nostalgia.
The 116-square-metre room was designed by Alexandra Hutchison, principal and creative director at the newly launched Studio Marlowe (with Steven Fong Architect). She co-owns Casa La Palma, and La Palma downstairs, with her husband, chef Craig Harding.
La Palma impressed Dundas West in 2017 with its fresh California look, and they kept the same design ethos for Casa, albeit moving a couple of hundred kilometres inland from Venice Beach to Palm Springs. Casa shares a menu with La Palma – one made up of Harding’s Italian twists, with highlights like a sweet potato agnolotti and darkly charred broccolini. The drinks go way off the LCBO-approved list, with a cloudy Italian bubbly called Difetto Perfetto and several fernets you won’t see anywhere else around town.
The room is filled with peppy details like the painted ankle socks on the cane-backed bentwood chairs, or the tiles in an arch behind the bar reminiscent of a never-used but still desirable Palm Springs fireplace. This May, furniture by Bibi Seck of Birsel + Seck will populate what Hutchison is pretty sure will be the only rooftop patio between Chinatown and Parkdale. It’ll certainly be the only one that tempts its patrons to angle their chairs inwards for a better view of this impressive space.
Originally published in our Small Spaces 2019 issue as Casa La Palma.