1-3-5 X’mas Dinner at Adega

Portuguese cuisine at Adega at 33 Elm St in downtown Toronto

Are we starting a tradition, girls?  My friends, 1, 3, and I chose Adega as our X’mas dinner location this year for some lovely chitchat and some incredible food.  Through some research online, I found out that this restaurant serves really good Portuguese food.  It is located close to Dundas Square where we had planned to watch a movie beforehand so it worked out perfectly to come here for a fancy dinner to celebrate our friendship and 2013.

Starters — bread, olive oil, black olives ❤

The interior of Adega is decorated minimally but felt very homey and cozy.  The host welcomed us to a round table that we had reserved for ahead of time.  We were served bread, olive oil to dip, and a bowl of black olives to start while we all poured over the menu and looked at what to order.  For the first time in my life (!!), I actually declined the prix fixe menu option.  Even though I usually go crazy and will almost always opt for the prix fixe, I really wanted to try their signature dishes instead of a pre-set menu that didn’t seem very authentically Portuguese to me.  I am very glad that I took this route!  You’ll see why towards the end of this post.

After we placed our orders, we were each treated to a complimentary crab cake!  It arrived in the cutest little tear drop shaped bowl.  I love crab cakes and this was absolutely divine!  The inside was filled with incredibly moist and flavourful crab meat.  It was SO good.  This might very well be the best crab cake of all time!  That’s a really high honour considering the number of crab cakes I’ve had in my lifetime…

Another on-the-house starter — crab cake!

We October babies also made a wonderful foodie choice and chose an appetizer platter to share.  Yum!  I love platters and samples of food!!

Napkin folded into a cute vest ^_^

We ordered the Oceano Platter which consisted of squid, piri-piri shrimp, octopus carpaccio, sardines, and gravlux.  It was a wonderful selection of the seafood that they serve and a really good glimpse into what Portuguese food is all about.  I remember the last time I had Portuguese food was at Chiado for Winterlicious 2013 — I remember sardines as one of the options for the appetizer portion.  Something else that made me think of Chiado was the way that the napkin was folded into a cute little vest.  Chiado did the same thing too!  I wonder if it’s Portuguese restaurant type of thing to do… hmm.

OCEANO PLATTER. $34.95
squid, piri-piri shrimp, octopus carpaccio, sardines, gralux

My favourite part of the platter were the shrimps.  I liked how they were pretty crispy and fresh and a tad spicy.  I liked the spice. 🙂  The most unique sample were the octopus carpaccio.  I’ve had beef carpaccio before, but octopus was definitely a first!  It was sliced extremely thinly and tasted wonderful.  So unique.  I also really liked the raw spiced salmon that is called gralax.  I love salmon in general and especially smoked salmon, so this reminded me a little of it.   Once I tasted how soft and tender the squid were, I knew immediately that this restaurant would serve really high-quality seafood.  It is incredibly difficult, in my opinion, to serve soft and tender squid.  Restaurants are usually more than likely to overcook squid so that it becomes super chewy and rubbery.  This squid was definitely a winner.  Lastly, the sardines were all right.  I didn’t find them particularly amazing, but to love everything else on the platter except the sardines is still a really good rating!  I also liked the juicy roasted vegetables that accompanied the platter. 🙂

For my entrée, I chose the Cataplana Portuguese Fish Stew.  Together with the Mediterranean Octopus, this Fish Stew were featured signature dishes at Adega.  It would be difficult for me not to try out their specialty dish!  I was at first a bit apprehensive about ordering this dish — I had an irrational fear that it would disappoint since it was just going to be soup and seafood.  What if the soup is watery and the seafood is terrible?  Nevertheless, I’m glad I tried it because my fear was not brought to life; it was very well assembled and the portion was huge!

CATAPLANA PORTUGUESE FRESH FISH STEW. $25.95
a Bouillabaisse of mussels, shrimp, clams, squid, & fresh fish in a tomato broth

Look at the picture.  I know it doesn’t give much justice into how big the cataplana bowl actually was, but it was incredibly deep.  The fish stew was full to the brim of mussels, shrimps, clams, a whole body of squid chopped up, and many pieces of fresh fish.  I liked how the soup was a tomato broth so it added a lighter taste to the soup.   The squid tasted similar to the one in the Oceano platter since each ring was very soft and tender despite sitting in the steaming hot soup before I picked it out.  The fresh fish meat was very firm and soft; I was impressed since I don’t often find tender-tasting fish at restaurants.  This was also my first time using a cataplana.  It is specially designed cookware for Portuguese dishes and consists of two clamshells hinged together.  It was perfect since you could just throw your empty mussel shells into the other half of the clamshell after excavating the meat inside.

Both Holly and I had trouble getting through this monster of a dish.  We were SO full from eating all the seafood in it and drinking the yummy soup.  In the end though — because I’m a glutton — I managed to finish all of mine.  I should have taken a picture of my empty cataplana to show you guys!

Joyce ordered the Grilled Squid.  It looked perfectly grilled and I like how it came with asparagus and vegetables on the side.

GRILLED SQUID. $21.95
with a lemon, coriander, & garlic olive oil sauce

Unfortunately, because we were SO stuffed with seafood, we didn’t have room in our tummies for dessert.  The dessert menu looked very appealing though!  Too bad.  Maybe another day. 🙂

All in all, this was an incredible restaurant to visit.  I really loved the Portuguese tastings and was super impressed with how everything turned out.  The service was impeccable as our server thoroughly informed us of the night’s specials and refilled our bread basket before it was empty.  We really enjoyed the atmosphere of the restaurant as well.  It’s perfect for a special occasion or a night out with friends or colleagues.  Yay, Adega! 🙂

A fantastic 2013. Thanks for the memories, lovelies!

Oh, and what’s an X’mas dinner without saying it:  Merry Christmas everyone! : )

Read Holly’s review of Adega too!

Adega on Urbanspoon

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3 comments on “1-3-5 X’mas Dinner at Adega

  1. Pingback: Adega Restaurante | Snapshots & Smiles

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