"Hey, my dad is in town and we're going to eat at Atasca. Wanna join us?"
Well, obviously. I'm not stupid.
By the time I got to the restaurant, my friend, her father, and one of her roommates were already there and had ordered appetizers. No fear, I trusted their taste. The only problem was that I didn't know what to order. So many dishes, and I am but one stomach. Decisions had to be made, however, and made they were.
For appetizers, the fava beans and squid were ordered. Oh, just so good. I don't think that I've ever had fava beans before, and I don't know that I want them prepared any other way now. According to the menu, they're stewed with onion, garlic and vinho verde. They tasted, however, almost meaty. I don't know if that's a characteristic of the bean itself. Someone at the table said that the beans were reminiscent of steak. I voiced that they reminded me of mushrooms - not in consistency, but I've made mushrooms that tasted like this before. My friend's father wiped the bowl clean with some bread. The squid was similarly impressive - very garlicky and fantastic - and topped with polenta cubes.
Entrees, then. I ended up with the cataplana - clams, mussels and shrimp served in a cataplana (copper steamer) with onions, bell peppers and linguiça. It was served with some jasmine rice. I spooned rice onto my plate, placed some shelled (shucked? removed from their shell homes?) shellfish on atop, and drizzled with some of the liquid and onions and bell peppers. It hit the spot - exactly what I wanted on a cold winter's night. I just wish there had been more linguiça in the dish. As for other entrees - one person ordered the baked dried salt cod, which I unfortunately didn't taste as I was so full, but I did manage to find room for the accompanying fried potatoes which were great. Meatier than chips, but not as thick as home fries. The traditional dried cod stew and mussels (off the small plate side) were also ordered. No, I didn't taste either, and I should have because everyone loved their dishes so. I was more focused on my own dish, and sighing over the fact that I was getting full way too quickly because there was so much more in front of me to savor.
Desserts were not ordered, though we were very tempted by the pasteis de nata.
We were at the location on Broadway, which is very intimate and cozy. Perhaps a touch too dim, but no matter. It was very cute and homey, with plates and pictures adorning the walls.
This isn't fancy food, but it's good solid tasty cooking. Great flavours that sparkle but don't overwhelm. I am definitely going to have to return with an emptier stomach so that I can eat more.