Saturday, February 4, 2012

WINTERLICIOUS: A Great Meal at Chiado!

There have been many instances where I searched for best Portuguese in Toronto on a night where we weren't sure where to eat, Chiado has always come up as the best but we had yet to make our way there - it is a fine dining establishment and I always found it a little pricy for just our average night out. I was happy to have made a reservation for Winterlicious, finally a chance to try it out and see if it's worth it!

For our $45 3-course dinner, we had a "bonus" amuse bouche, a fresh cheese served with balsamic and my preference, the honey with rosemary. The cheese was good, not very strong and served at the perfect cool temperature. Our mouths were "amused" indeed. For the first course, I had the lobster and shrimp bisque done with saffron and cognac. It was very tasty and the shell fish fresh in the soup. My friend Jen had the salad which was colourful and fresh looking - an enticing salad as any.

There were a lot of options for our second course but I decided on the pan seared skate fish on coriander risotto. It was AMAZING! The fish was perfectly flavoured and flakey, prepared just...well, perfect. I savoured every delicious bite. Tony had grilled squid, a popular dish in Portuguese restaurants, tossed simply with garlic and lemon. The thing with squid is not over-cooking and it was done just right, with just enough flavour. Needless to say we were both very happy with our dishes.

To finish off our meal, we had a white chocolate flan, which was tasty and not as sweet as I thought (since I'm not a fan of white chocolate). Flan is also traditional to Portuguese cuisine so I'm glad we had a taste of that. I tried molotoff for the first time, a traditional meringue dessert that was also well done.

We loved our meal at Chiado and can finally claim to know what all the buzz is about. We'd be happy to return to the restaurant at any time and can't wait to try out the regular menu.

864 College St

WINTERLICIOUS: Fine Italian at Noce

Our 2nd Winterlicious adventure this year was at Noce, a fine Italian restaurant on Queen West. It was packed when we arrived last Saturday, filled with what looked more like regulars than just the Winterlicious crowd. Looks like Noce is an old favourite! We were warmly greeted by staff at the front and seated in one of the intimate dining rooms.

Although we normally try to taste as many different
dishes as possible, we both had the pappardelle with lamb ragout to start (the salad was not enticing and I'm not a fan of bean soup). Our food came quickly and well prepared, but the pappardelle was just warm and not quite hot enough.
My personal preference is also for fresh pappardelle vs egg noodles but it was still tasty and we finished it quickly. For mains, I had a perfectly seared trout on broccolini. This dish was an indication of the fine dining establishment Noce is, the fish was well prepared and the skin seared crispy and tasty. Tony had the braised veal cheeks, with mushrooms and leeks on mashed, a homey, saucy dish. Finally for dessert, we had gelato and a very frothy tiramisu that I could never finish on my own.

We had a nice meal at Noce but did not find it extraordinary or an exceptional value ($45 dinner menu - but perhaps a good deal vs regular menu prices). I appreciate that Noce did not skimp on the details for their Winterlicious menu and I have no doubt the restaurant has excellent standards and can live up to it's fine dining reputation for Italian lovers out there. This is the kind of restaurant to take your parents/in-laws to, solid performance.

875 Queen St W