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Portland Variety

by - July 14, 2016

 Located on the corner of King & Portland in the busy King West neighborhood lies Portland Variety. Portland Variety operates as both a cafe, and restaurant; as the 2,400-square-foot restaurant features a standing-room cafe at the front during the day, and at night, it transforms into a cocktail bar/restaurant.

 I had the pleasure of attending a media tasting to welcome back Chef Jo Castrinos to Portland Variety a couple weeks back. He was the original chef of Portland Variety when it first opened in 2014, and he has now returned to helm the kitchen as Executive Chef. The tasting was an intimate gathering with some of my fellow bloggers, and all the dishes that we tried that evening were family-styled.

Watermelon Mojito - dark rum, lime, mint, watermelon

 The menu at Portland Variety featured a fusion of Canadian, French, and Spanish cuisine offering shareable plates for both lunch and dinner. Some of their shareable plates include grilled octopus, fried hen, and braised short ribs.   

 Royal Garden - vodka, lime, basil, cucumber


We started the tasting with a selection of Assorted Pintxos.


Mushroom Salad - arugula, truffle pecorino, pine nuts, yuzu vin


The Striped Bass Crudo - citrus, green mango, chive oil, chill, was up next, and it was a favorite among our small group of diners. The bass crudo was well-prepared, and the epitome of freshness. Additionally, the combination of green mango, and chive oil perfectly complemented the briny flavor of the bass.

My spice tolerance is pretty high, so I am capable of tolerating really spicy dishes. Which is why, I enjoyed the Shrimp Pil Pil - chili oil, lemon. The shrimp was super flavorful, and the lemon added a nice contrast to the richness and spiciness of the chili oil.  

Moorish Chickpeas - saffron, cumin, wilted swiss chard

I am glad that they kept the Grilled Octopus - smoked tomato, iberico chorizo, fennel pollen, on the menu. The octopus was seared and crispy on the outside, while the interior was tender. It also had a slight smoky flavor, without it tasting unnaturally smoky. 

 Cornish Game Hen - piri piri, pickles, olives

The 16 oz Ribeye - porcini rub, caramelized onions, was surprisingly flavorful. It was my second favorite dish of the night after the grilled octopus. I am not a huge fan of onions, but the caramelized onions added a nice flavor to the dish.

Patatas Bravas - spicy tomato, garlic aioli

Tangerine Panna Cotta - basil, pistachio meringue

Lastly, we ended the night off with Beignets - vanilla custard, for dessert. The deep-fried yet airy beignets were lightly dusted with sugar making it a sweet treat. This was a great way to finish off a meal.


Portland Variety is a nice casual place in King West, and perfect for all occasions. They are open for brunch, lunch and dinner. Click here for their hours of operation.

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.

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