Monday, November 15, 2010

A Savoury Seafood Feast at Casa da Ramboia

It seems like a long while since we stopped in a new restaurant - having visitors the past month meant we've made lots of visits to our favourite places, but not a lot of time to try new ones! After spending Friday lunch hearing about my friend's recent Portugal travels, it was the only food I could think of that night!

But where oh where?

When I first moved to Toronto, my friend Julie brought over AMAZING leftovers from some Portuguese restaurant "around Bloor and Dufferin," I STILL remember it fondly, an amazing platter of seafood that I think about now 3+ years later. Unfortunately, I've never found it and don't know the name, and so I am continually on a hunt for a great Portuguese restaurant. We often rely on Toronto Life, and this week, I decided to take my recommendation from Yelp. Searching "Portuguese Restaurant" didn't yield as many results as I had hoped, but luck would have it, the top one was not too far away on Dundas West, and that is how we ended up at Casa da Ramboia.

You can't miss the restaurant, with a brightly lit Orange sign (and actually, is next to Enoteca Sociale). The restaurant is like a small neighbourhood pub, complete with the L-shaped bar and semi-circle benches along the side, where Tony and I were happily seated at a table that could have easily seated 6. We're always happy to have extra room for extra food :) You know what kind of restaurant you're in when the person who greeted us had conveniently popped up from his party of 10+ right by the door to ensure we were seated. The big party sure looked like they were comfortable and having a good time!

Took us no time to decide on food, not after our server (and probably owner?) gave us the daily fish specials, includ
ing bass and grouper. While both were enticing, I couldn't go for Portuguese and pass up trying the Cataplana, a delicious and soupy melange of pork, chorizo and assorted seafood served in a brass pot. To start, we stuck with seafood and had jumbo grilled prawns flavoured with delicious piri piri sauce (African bird's eye chili). Despite its very plain demeanor, it was savoury and satisfying, I never realized how much I like the taste of piri piri! We initially asked for rabbit as our second entree (I was craving some good meat!), but unfortunately it was not available, so we took it as fate that we order the "cornucopia of lobster, clams, mussels and rice" served in a traditional clay pot. The rice was saucy, homey and delicious. We couldn't have asked for two more flavourful dishes! The only downside was that our mains were hard to share on plates - we wish they would have given us bowls. But we didn't find it hard to adjust, Tony and I simply took turns diving into the brass pot of soupy goodness or the clay pot of hot and satisfying rice dish. DEFINITELY best eaten out of the original containers :)

We were happy to have discovered this little gem (thanks Yelp!) and will certainly be back. Who can complain about a restaurant's authenticity when it boasts little granny cooking away in the kitchen!? And if anyone has some good Portuguese recommendations for me...please send!

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