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Restaurants & Bars 3

Adega Portuguese on Elm

Jacquilynne | Mar 21, 2005 11:28 AM

For last Friday night, I needed a place for dinner before a show we were seeing later at Club279. I'd been given the task of picking the restaurant by another Chowhound and was visibly wilting under the pressure. With my other, less knowledgeable friends almost any restaurant I pick ends up being better than their chain place usual but this was something more challenging.

The club is right up the street from the Canon theatre, so I trolled through some of the recent recommendations threads for people going to see Wicked. 'Been there, done that' dismissed a lot of the recommendations, but one struck me as some place new for me to try. I made reservations for Adega at 7:30.

When I arrived, I was seated immediately to wait for the arrival of the other chowhound. While the waiter offered a drink, there was no particular pressure in the direction of alcohol, and he was fine with just bringing me a bottle of still water for the table.

The meal opened with the serving of a plate of bread, olives and olive oil. The olives were a bit spicy, and I imagine them to have been very, very good olives, but frankly, I don't much care for olives, so I only had one. The bread on the other hand was much more interesting. There were two kinds, one a light, fluffy loaf that was good, but not particularly interesting. The other was a heavy, darkly roasted loaf, with a thick crust and a sweet, nutty flavour to the bread. That bread was absolutely wonderful and it took much of my powers of self-restraint to keep from eating it all before my dining companion arrived.

With her arrival, there came the listing of the specials. The waiter had some trouble remembering all the little details, but considering how detailed they were, and with four of them to remember, that's not surprising. I opted to order my entree off the menu, but chose the soup of the day, a potato and saffron soup, to start. The other hound chose the bisque from the regular menu as her starter.

My soup was good and well-flavoured, and served nice and hot. Lukewarm soup is one of my restaurant pet peeves, so I appreciated that aspect of it especially. It had swirls of chive cream as a garnish, which were overpowered by the saffron flavour of the soup itself, and actually looked a bit icky once the swirl was broken up into bits, so didn't add much to the experience.

For mains, I ordered the grilled tiger shrimp in piri piri, while she ordered the grilled calamari. The tiger shrimp came with 4 very nicely grilled, and very, very large tiger shrimp served on top of a bed of steamed (properly steamed, not overcooked at all) vegetables and roasted potatoes. The shrimp were succulent and the piri piri sauce was spicy and flavourful. It's not as good as the smokey citrussy piri piri at Chiado, but then what is?

I tried a bit of the Calamari, as well. It had been beautifully presented, curled up like a head of hair. The vinagarette dressing was tasty and a bit sweet without being overwhelmingly puckery or oversugared - and I find one of the two problems with most calamari dressings I encounter.

The dessert menu looked interesting but in the interests of time and waistlines, we passed on it in favour of the cheque which came promptly. With no alcohol, but two litres of bottled water, taxes and tip, the dinner for two came to $90.

As an added note, we were seated in the main room at a table removed enough from other occupied tables to have some privacy, but there were several booths tucked into alcoves where there would be even more privacy. Plus the wine cellar has a party table in it (for 20, I think), and they were seating a group down there while we were there. So lots of different options for the experience depending on what level of intimacy you want to create for your group.


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