Went yesterday with significant other and a Norwegian friend.
Thought that no reservations were necessary, but was told upon arrival that all tables were booked, but as we were there for the tapas, we decided to take a seat at the bar.
The space is long and narrow, with that college st. minimalist trendiness thats so hot right now. The bar chairs do need to have a higher backing for leaning back but were quite comfy otherwise.
Ordered a bottle of white from the Sado region called Catarina. An amazing bottle, nicely dry just the way I like my whites.
My thoughts on the dishes we had. * besides the highlights.
Awesome in house baked corn bread and regular bread to start.
* Cod Salad: A cold salad made with strands of cod. The flavour was excellent, cold and cleasing with none of the fishyness one would associate with a cod salad. A must try item. I myself had one small problem with the texture of the cod, which can get a bit chewy. It just brought unwanted memories of christmas boiled cod dinners back in the Azores. But the flavour was above reproach.
*Carpaccio of Grouper: An almost sashimi like dish made with pinenuts. Perfect silken texture and sterling flavour. Pinenuts were not really needed, but I suppose it provides contrast or some such.
Smoked Salmon Dish: Probably the least interesting dish, but not due to any fault in preparation. Its just that compared to the rest of the innovative tapas we had, it was just alright. It came with quail eggs that provided a nice creamyness that was a great accompaniment to the salmon.
* Chourico and Morcela: The best Chorizo I've had in Canada and an amazing take on morcela, a dark blood sausage that is much beloved by Portuguese. This particular morcela is not the pudding, mealy type that I am familiar with, but a more meaty variation that was spectacular in its own way. Both my Sig.O and my Friend from Norway hate Morcela, but they absolutely loved this one. Came with some amazing crunchy pickles as well.
Grilled Octopus: Expertly grilled, being meaty and firm without any chewyness. Easily the best grilled octopus I have ever had, but my favourite treatment of Octopus is still stewed with some wine and potatoes, portuguese style. Still, those who love the greek style grilled Octopus will swoon over this.
Steamed Clams: Yummy and warming, several plump clams in their shell arrive steaming with a delectable broth made for dipping your bread in. Fabulous.
* Grilled Shrimp: ATTENTION, THIS IS PROBABLY THE BEST SHRIMP I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE. Perfectly grilled shrimp, firm and juicy with a garlicky sayce made from its juices. I have had amazing shrimp in the Azores, but this dish is an absolute masterpiece. I am going to be haunted by this dish for a while.
*Marinated Sardines: I saved the best for last. While the less adventurous diners might want to steer clear of this dish, those willing to try this are in for an amazing revelation. I don't think I'm good enough to relate just how this dish impressed me. These small raw sardines are prepared in such a way that completely and perfectly encapsulate what the flavour of the sea, what the essence the fish is supposed to be.
This is like the next step in the evolution of portuguese cooking, reflecting our tradition of grilled sardines in such a sophisticated, incredible way that I was almost rendered speechless.
We were also offered complimentary Pata Negra prosciutto. What can I say? it's the best prosciutto in the world, if not the best cured meat in the world.
Dessert: girlfriend and I shared this squash, almond and egg torte called toucinho do ceu (bacon from heaven). Thick and delicious, we washed it down with complimentary ice cold Moscatel, a fortified dessert wine that blew me away. But the best dessert was my Norwegian friends ethereal white chocolate flan, which was accompanied by complimentary white port.
The bill came to $200 without tip. That was with the wine and with some double orders of items because we wanted bigger portions to share.
BOTTOM LINE: There is no reason for Senhor Antonio not to be absolutely packed every night of the week. If people want a mid-priced sophisticated dining option, forget Lee's and head here.
I think we are incredibly lucky to have access to this kind of Portuguese cuisine and seafood in Toronto. Chiado and Senhor Antonio are more than likely the finest Portuguese restaurants in North America.
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