I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart stomach for Portuguese cooking. Before I really “got into food,” piri piri chicken and natas (those delicious custard tarts) were to-go favourites I picked up regularly from that little spot in St. Lawrence Market. Plop me into a Nova Era, and I’m in a li’l bit o’ heaven.
Needless to say, when Nicki scribbled typed “6pm Dinner at Quinta Restaurant” into the communal calendar, I started to swoon.
We showed up to Quinta Restaurant on one of those frigid nights last week that seems so long ago now. Hungry, tired… and hungry, we took our queues from Chef/Owner Leor Zimerman on his menu standouts. The selection of dishes is small, with about six and six apps and mains, but each is executed brilliantly.
We started with the Green Salad and the Quinta Caldo Verde. Now, we normally would never order something as blase sounding as a “Green Salad” to start, but the Chef swore upon its merits… and did it ever deliver. A base of kale, the salad has mounds of fresh seasonal vegetables and a refreshing vinaigrette. I’d have it daily for lunch were delivery available and the restaurant open at that time. The Caldo Verde was creamy goodness, with but a light taste of the parsnip puree. (Though I will say we could have used a bit more of the tasty chorizo sausage found hiding at the bottom of the bowl.)
For our mains, I had some of the most exceptionally rich tuna atop spiced quinoa, with a salty yet subdued black olive and anchovy paste, hard boiled quail eggs, green beans, and roasted cherry tomatoes. It’s not often you’ll find a healthy, balanced, and luxe meal at a restaurant, so this was a nice change of pace. Same goes for Nicki’s Seafood Cataplana, overflowing with perfectly cooked shrimp, calamari, and… limpets? Ever heard of those? Well, apparently they’re a sort of cross between an oyster and a mussel; think of it like a sea snail. Nicki, not one to be content labelled a neophyte, slurped those suckers up with a grin and a wink, loving every squishy bite of this unique ingredient.
Finally, dessert. Remember my love of natas? Well, Chef Leor’s take combines the famed custard with port soaked pears, a buttery crust, and a brie-like goat cheese on top. This truly was an exceptional dessert… not for everyone… but for myself, it was like a custard tart on steroids after a facelift.
But don’t take my words for it, check out the vlog to see the intricacies of Quinta’s food and Nicki losing her limpet virginity…