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Portland Variety

by - February 01, 2016

Located on King and Portland; Portland Variety is brought to you by Milton Nunes of bakery-cafe, Le Gourmand on Spadina. The 2,400-square-foot space features a standing-room cafe at the front which serves pastries, and coffee drinks during the day, and at night, it transforms to a cocktail bar. Portland Variety recently added brunch to their menu, and released their winter menu back in December. I have stopped by Portland Variety on a few occasions for their coffee and pastries in the early mornings. However, I was not aware that they expanded their café where it currently has the capacity to seat 82 guests in the back until I attended the winter menu launch. It was there where I got a taste of new head chef Matt Cowan's Euro-inspired bistro dishes with a mix of Canadian cuisine. All of the dishes served the night of the media menu launch were shareable, and there was plenty of food.

The menu at Portland Variety features a fusion of Canadian, French, and Spanish cuisine offering shareable plates for both lunch and dinner.  I was thoroughly impressed by the quality of the food, and there were a few highlights that I would recommend trying. One of the main highlights was the grilled octopus, which was juicy, and well-flavored. The octopus was charred, so there was a nice smokey taste to it. Normally, I find that the flavor of octopus tends to be rather mild, but the addition of the chorizo jam definitely added extra flavor to it. Another dish that I enjoyed was the Piri Piri fried hen flavored with hot honey glaze, which had a nice balance of sweet and spicy. 

Ceviche is a popular seafood dish in South America, and is available on the menu at Portland Variety. It's typically made from fresh raw fish, and marinated in citrus juices, which helps to cure the fish. Chef Matt Cowan's rendition is a beautifully presented and colorful dish. The Nikkei ceviche is filled with chunks of striped bass with a layer of aji de maracuya sauce making it a very refreshing and light main course. Additionally, Portland Variety also offers several small bites on the menu, and I enjoyed them all. However, if I had to choose, I would say that the cassava fries were the tastiest. It is definitely a healthier alternative as it was baked yet it still remains crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside. The cauliflower "popcorn" was a crowd favorite, and is such a creative way to prepare cauliflower.

Lastly, the bite sized beignets was the perfect end to a great dinner. The deep-fried choux pastry is lightly powdered with sugar, and filled with sweet vanilla custard. As for drinks - Portland Variety serves up plenty of classic and in-house cocktails. If you're not a cocktail drinker, then there are draught beers, bottled beers, and sangria on the drinks menu. Dinner at Portland Variety was a very nice surprise, and I really enjoyed it as I left satisfied and full. The cafe/restaurant is open 7 days a week, and they have upped their game by offering brunch as well.

Iberico Chorizo Croquettas ($11)


Salted Caramel Old Fashioned ($14) - bulleit bourbon, salted caramel liquor, orange essence,
angostura & a&p bitters

Cassava Fries ($8)

Cauliflower "Popcorn" ($8)

Champagne a la Fouqette ($27) - piper heidsieck champagne, st. remy vsop, eau de tea syrup, yellow chartuese, mint, blackberries

Black Kale ($11) - chevre noir, pickled grapes, hazelnuts, burnt honey dressing

Roasted Heirloom Roots ($15) - burrata, tarragon, walnut pesto, herbs

Whipped House-Made Ricotta ($14) - spice roasted plums, pistachios, grilled sourdough

Nikkei Ceviche ($21) - striped bass, aji de maracuya, persimmons, taro chips

Grilled Octopus ($21) - chorizo jam

Piri Piri Fried Hen ($18) - hot honey glaze

Sticky Lamb Ribs ($23) - harissa & maple glaze, spicy peanut brittle

Braised Shortribs ($32) - truffled semolina polenta, glazed roots

Gnocchi alla Romana ($18) - kabocha & burnt butter puree, pinenuts, sage

Beignets ($7) - bite sized vanilla custard doughnuts

Address: 587 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1M5

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Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

Portland Variety Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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