Summertime is sizzling and for one reason ─ Summerlicious! If you haven’t heard, no worries, there’s still time. Every year, this Toronto food event caters to hungry, enthusiastic and curious patrons. Foodie or not, now is the time to literally sample a three course menu from that establishment you’ve been eyeing for some time. Among friends, here’s a little piece of FYI: please do, R.S.V.P. “I used to be indecisive, but now I’m not so sure.” This expression clearly resonates, given we’re ready to eat but uncertain in which locale to invest. Choices galore, the range of participating venues leave many to contemplate between fair to fine dining hosts. This year, however, I just had to taste my way through a ‘prix-fixe’ that was inclusive to an item never tried. And so, I must ─ “must-indulge,” at Chiado. Did someone say ‘sizzle’? ─ Sim, sim, sim!!! ‘Chiado’ ─ as in the Portuguese term ─ indicates ‘sizzle,’ and for a reason. Happy to greet, seat and serve guests, the start of my experience is sizzling with great service. Waiting not, prompt seating and tableside attention is not an issue ─ mind you, former reservation had been made. Evidently still, staff are welcomingly present, professional and do their very best to accommodate patrons. First thing’s first, treat your senses with a taste of complimentary: black cured olives, an overfilled bread basket, and dipping olive oil. Already noted ─ here ─ it’s all about quality. Eager for more appetizing delights, the menu selection is consistent with palatable options. For starters, opt for a seaside inspiration via saffron and cognac-infused shrimp bisque, grilled lemon garlic sardines or salmon tartar à la avocado mousse. Agreeably tempting, I forgo the aforementioned for a vegan appetizer that satisfies while taking account of needed room for the ‘main’ choice to come. In the meantime, my first course leaves a pleasantly earthy and enriching taste that is: portabella mushroom and eggplant that is topped with delicately broiled goat cheese, and justly flavoured with champagne vinaigrette. A true reflection of the Mediterranean, Chiado succeeds in a menu that well-encompasses regional cuisine as seen with: ‘dourada’ or fileted sea bream, grilled squid and a salted cod terrine, in addition to other piscatorial dishes such as pan-seared skate fish and Atlantic salmon. Seafood cooked right is an incomparable experience in its own right. Nonetheless, I set my ‘mainly’ mind on Chiado’s apparent “rule of the roost.” Tried for the first time, the garlic and herb-crusted “Roasted breast of Capon” is overbearingly succulent, adequately heated with ‘piri piri’ sauce, and persists to be undeniably preferred over the usual ‘white meat’ chicken alternative. Absolutely hearty, the generous serving of ‘capon’ is enough to satisfy one’s eyes and appetite, though the root vegetable and ‘haricots verts’ accompaniments are worth savouring. And now, time for dessert! Beyond comfortably-full ─ several bites ago, into the second course ─ how can I ignore Portuguese tradition? Treated to a pillow slice of light ‘molotof’ ─ egg white meringue ─ enrobed in caramel, this cotton candy-like cloud denotes both a sweet finale to this delicious meal, and a prelude to a necessary siesta. Happy eats and sweet dreams in, this Summerlicious experience is ─ most definitely ─ ‘Chiado.’
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