I went to O Cantinho for dinner tonight with three others. We were seated right away at 7:15 in a half-full dining room, and got the menus. I was unhappy to see that the dinner menu had changed and the prices had gone up. We even considered leaving, since we were hoping for a inexpensive meal. Luckily, we agreed to spend a bit more money and stay. I am very glad we did.
We shared 3 small plates and 2 main dishes. PLENTY of food.
Fava Beans: The same as ever, excellent as always. We ate it all.
Cheese and Tomatoes: Soft salty cheese and fresh sliced tomatoes covered in a light tomato/olive oil dressing....surrounded by olive oil flavored with a touch of hot pepper. Excellent.
Squid Appetizer with Polenta: Squid cooked perfectly, extremely tender and a generous serving, in a delicious lemon and garlic (lots of it) sauce, topped with steaming hot bite size pieces of polenta.
All three appetizers were EXCELLENT for bread dipping, we went through two baskets. I was practically full before the two main courses came out.
Both main dishes came out at the same time. Both were VERY large servings and looked beautiful. We had the seafood platter (in a garlic, ginger sauce, I forget the name of the dish, maybe Bela something?). Anyway, it's the one with seafood and ginger. We also had the Bacalao.
Large serving of jasmine rice in the middle of the plate was surrounded by mussels, clams, squid and two whole shrimps and plenty of delicious seafood/garlic/ginger/wine sauce. Plenty of sauce to scoop over the rice, seafood again cooked perfectly. Mussels tasted sweet, large pieces of garlic floating in everything. Pretty darn amazing. Definitely worth the 18 dollar price.
Two large pieces of salt cod covered in sauteed onions, garlic and tomatoes, all served over a bed of the thin, fried potatoes. These potatoes are awesome. Soaked in salty, garlicky, tomatoey sauce they are even better. Bones were pretty easy to pick out, this dish was also amazing and very large (I wouldn't have been able to eat it myself, even without the appetizers, and I can eat a lot!). This was 15 dollars I think, also very much worth it.
We also shared a pitcher of sangria for 17 dollars which was very good.
Overall, I was very very happy with this meal and the new menu. We had plenty of food, and would have been fine even with one less appetizer. It is not that often that I go to a restaurant, order 5 things and LOVE all of them, so I was quite happy. My girlfriend and I ate at Atasca a few weeks ago and this meal was FAR better than the meal we had there.
Speaking of Atasca, we talked to the staff at O Cantinho after dinner about the menu changes and how our meal compared to the one we had at Atasca. They asked if we had ever been to the Broadway Atasca (which we hadn't) and told us that since that location has closed (permanently), they changed the dinner menu at O Cantinho to sort of replace it as a dinner spot.
O Cantinho was 3/4 full the entire time we were there, but there was always at least one free table. I don't think they take reservations, but they do take credit cards now. They are located on Cambridge St. a bit east of Inman Sq.