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Inspired by Paris boulangeries and the dining culture in Spain, Portland Variety (@PortlandVariety) is bringing something incredibly delicious to King West with something to satisfy you no matter what time of day.

Portland Variety

Located on the southwest corner of King and Portland, the front of the restaurant features a standing-room only space which operates as a specialty coffee shop and boulangerie by day and is transformed into a cocktail bar in the evening.

Cafe by day, cocktail bar at night

The cafe serves organic drip coffee and espresso from local micro roasters using their ModBar espresso machine. To complement your coffee, you’ll find an amazing selection of baked goods and grab-and-go breakfast items. From 5pm (until late), Portland Variety offers a rotating selection of pintxos (small Spanish bar snacks).

Portland Variety is brought to us by Milton Nunes, also owns Le Gourmand on Spadina. I’m a huge fan of Le Gourmand, which makes the best damn cookies in the city (also available here), so I was excited to see what Nunes’ new venture had to offer.

The interior

I really love the space which features floor to ceiling glass windows allowing plenty of natural light to fill the space. The gorgeous  Bianca Carrara marble countertops keep the space feeling very light and sleek. They also have a nice street-side patio to round out the space.

The dining room

In the kitchen, you’ll find chef Jo Catrinos, a classically trained chef who once worked under the famous Alain Ducasse. Last week I attended a media preview at Portland Variety and let me tell you, I was incredibly impressed by what was coming out of his kitchen. We started out the meal with an incredible spread of pintxos:

Gilda – green olive, white anchovy, guajillo pepper, Peppered Ricotta  Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Cured Anchovy & Marjoram, Manchego Cheese

Pintxos

Salt Cod Brandade – with white anchovy, Torta – Spanish onion tortilla, Octopus & Potato

Pintxos

Jamon Serrano – with tomato puree & pardon pepper, Roasted Eggplant – with béchamel, Iberico Chorizo

Pintxos

Padron Peppers, Lobster Salad & Grilled Spring Onion, Candied Pork Rinds

Pintxos

In addition to the phenomenal food, they’ve got some serious cocktail offerings with bar manager Kris Bahamondes in charge. Just take a look…

Tequila Bong – Tromba Blanco tequila, fresh lemon, pineapple, jalapeno-infused agave, smoked with a hickory-mesquite blend ($15)

Tequila Bong

The Royal Garden – Tito’s vodka, lemon, basil and fresh cucumber served over a wild-flower ice sphere ($14)

The Royal Garden

Sour Heart – a classic whiskey sour made with Bulleit bourbon, lemon, fresh apricot puree, egg white ($14)

Sour Heart

Smoking Gun – pecan-infused Tap 357 whiskey, maple syrup, bitters, served over an XL cube in a maplewood smoked glass ($14)

Smoking Gun

Portland Daiquiri – hibiscus-infused Bacardi Superior, fresh lime juice, served up with a lime twist ($9)

Portland Daiquiri

Mr. Belvedere – A purist’s espresso martini, made with Belvedere’s vodka and ModBar espresso, lightly sweetened

Mr. Belvedere

And here’s a look at our dinner:

House Made Ricotta – with honey, hazelnuts & pear ($9)

House Made Ricotta

Chilled Seafood Platter – shrimp, smoked trout, lobster, clams, brown butter ($45)

Chilled Seafood Platter

Grilled Octopus – Iberico chorizo, smoked tomato, olive oil, lemon ($18)

Grilled Octopus

Shrimp Pil Pil – with chili, garlic oil ($17)

Shrimp Pil Pil

Chickpeas – harissa, saffron sweet potato, zucchini ($9)

Chickpeas

Baby Eggplant – byaldi confit ($7)

Baby Eggplant

22oz Canadian AAA Porcini Rubbed Blackened Rib Eye – with caramelized onions ($45) and Cassava Frites ($7)

Rib Eye & Cassava Frites

Beignets – assorted doughnuts, vanilla bean cream ($7)

Beignets

Dark Chocolate Praline Mousse – crispy nougatine, caramelized hazelnuts ($7)

Dark Chocolate Praline Mousse

Lemon Grass Granita – local cherries, strawberry consommé ($7)

Lemon Grass Granita

Where do I even begin? The food was phenomenal. There were so many tasty pintxos, you really can’t go wrong here. If I had to choose a couple favourites, it’s gotta be the salt cod brandade, jamon serrano and candied pork rinds.

Highlights from the dinner portion of the meal included the grilled octopus and shrimp pil pil which were both impeccably cooked and the sauce in each was delicious… bowl-licking kinda delicious.

The rib eye was another one of my favourites. The meat was perfectly seasoned and the sweet caramelized onions which accompanied it made for one damn good bite.

When the desserts arrived, it was the beignets which won my heart. These piping hot doughnuts were little bites of heaven! It came with a chocolate dipping sauce but the beignets were so good on their own, I didn’t even find it necessary.

I couldn’t be more pleased with this newest addition to King West. Stellar food (no matter what time of day), inventive cocktails and a beautiful space – Portland Variety is definitely one of the hottest restaurant openings this summer.

*This was a complimentary meal. The opinions in the post, as always, are my own.*

Portland Variety Cafe on Urbanspoon



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