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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Salt Cod Brandade – with white anchovy, Torta – Spanish onion tortilla, Octopus & Potato
Jamon Serrano – with tomato puree & pardon pepper, Roasted Eggplant – with béchamel, Iberico Chorizo
Padron Peppers, Lobster Salad & Grilled Spring Onion, Candied Pork Rinds
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)
The Royal Garden – Tito’s vodka, lemon, basil and fresh cucumber served over a wild-flower ice sphere ($14)
Sour Heart – a classic whiskey sour made with Bulleit bourbon, lemon, fresh apricot puree, egg white ($14)
Smoking Gun – pecan-infused Tap 357 whiskey, maple syrup, bitters, served over an XL cube in a maplewood smoked glass ($14)
Portland Daiquiri – hibiscus-infused Bacardi Superior, fresh lime juice, served up with a lime twist ($9)
Mr. Belvedere – A purist’s espresso martini, made with Belvedere’s vodka and ModBar espresso, lightly sweetened
And here’s a look at our dinner:
House Made Ricotta – with honey, hazelnuts & pear ($9)
Chilled Seafood Platter – shrimp, smoked trout, lobster, clams, brown butter ($45)
Grilled Octopus – Iberico chorizo, smoked tomato, olive oil, lemon ($18)
Shrimp Pil Pil – with chili, garlic oil ($17)
Chickpeas – harissa, saffron sweet potato, zucchini ($9)
Baby Eggplant – byaldi confit ($7)
22oz Canadian AAA Porcini Rubbed Blackened Rib Eye – with caramelized onions ($45) and Cassava Frites ($7)
Beignets – assorted doughnuts, vanilla bean cream ($7)
Dark Chocolate Praline Mousse – crispy nougatine, caramelized hazelnuts ($7)
Lemon Grass Granita – local cherries, strawberry consommé ($7)
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.*