It's tough having a limited entertainment budget. I don't get to go out for dinner with friends as much as I'd like to. Of course, frivolous spending at a certain bar doesn't help, but we won't get into that.
Dinner with a friend, for the first time in months. Good chance to catch up, at what some regard as one of the finest Portuguese restaurants in Toronto, Chiado. And they certainly uphold that fine dining reputation when you step in. Waiters in pressed white shirts and black vests, aprons. Soft, muted lighting, very refined. Nice tablecloths. Clientele ranging from middle-aged professional types to the elderly who still dress their finest for dinner. A little stuffy for this wine consultant, but we were there for the food.
And it was wonderful.
Fresh ingredients, simply cooked, no fuss. Pure flavour of the sea. To start, we shared grilled squid, tiger shrimp, and sardines. Delicious on all counts, and they were kind enough to divide them into two separate plates. The squid, just grilled perfectly - tender, fresh, and unbelievably delicious with that subtle layer of lemon juice. Shrimps showing how wonderful they can be if cooked on fire, with lovely slices of spicy pepper. And the sardines. Deboned, which is not really necessary, but just a dream come true.
Then, the fish. I had a dorado, what the French call dorade, what is also known as sea bream. Grilled whole, just like in the south of France. Fond, fond memories of eating this fish during my time in Nice. Plate of vegetables on the side, less successful - the butter was not working for me. My buddy had pan-roasted skate wing over risotto. Crumbly, tender, perfect in texture and flavour. Wonderful.
For Portuguese food, definitely went for a Portuguese wine. Extensive list, and I went for a wine I've never heard of before, discovering a new region. From Sado, a 2008 Casa Ermelinda Freitas Branco, DOC Palmela. Fresh citrus, minerals, with a lovely rich texture. Must have some sur lie aging, something to plump up the body. Delicious with the fish.
Wonderfully authentic cuisine, a maestro at the grill. Expensive though, which somewhat dampens the experience. Yes, the ingredients are fresh and quality is high, but for what the food is - this is not fine dining, and prices should not reflect that. Service is exemplary, discreet yet very attentive to details. Shame. I mean, even for two young men with healthy appetites, $140 per person (wine, tax, and gratuity included) is pushing it.