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Monday, 7 July 2014

I Love Lusitania - An evening at A Taverna

Nature abhors a vacuum.

Indeed, good restaurant real estate is a limiting factor in most cities. When Cafe Amore - a treasured Italian eatery - vacated its Delton digs, another Italian cafe rushed in to fill the void. Alas, it was not to be. Several months thereafter, A Taverna assumed this cozy nook, a half-block off an elm tree-lined street that is just far away enough from downtown's din to be considered cozy and intimate.


A Taverna might be as close as one might get to Portugal without actually hopping on a plane. Indeed, little to no English will be heard on any given night (though don't, by any means, let that dissuade you from going), and the menu makes no excuses for North American palates. A sampler plate of "Petiscos" - the nearest recognizable analogue being tapas - is a crash course in all things Lusitanian. For example, a simple stew of chicken gizzards rumbles with tomatoes and unobtrusive spices. Superfluous garlic toast wouldn't be missed, but the toothsome flesh rouses even the most stubborn of appetites.


Velvety, unctuous tuna pate (pictured at front) lends itself nicely to crunchy rounds of bread. Cured pigs' ears (pictured at rear) are more texture than flavour; a soft outer stratum reminiscent of pork belly gives way to a chewy, yet crunchy, interior not dissimilar to tripe, and are not for the faint of heart.


Flagship Bacalhao is salty and satisfying. Myomeres of pale codflesh fall away at a fork's touch. Tumbles of caramelized onions and discs of fried spud (think scalloped potatoes minus the scalloping) are happy, savoury companions.


White Pudding sends the evening out in style, shining over the surrounding symphony of animated chatter and soccer news. Somewhere between jello and creme brulee in texture, this berry-crowned creation beguiles with simple notes of milk and vanilla.

Comparisons between Cafe Amore and A Taverna would be futile and specious. The sizzles and sounds of life emanate from this Delton corner and, really, if Portuguese is the primary language spoken within, this can only mean good things.



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