One of the best things about Sarah is that she’s game for just about anything. Take her birthday dinner for example, where she entertained the idea of a trying a new restaurant. Don’t get me wrong, I’d have been down for anything, it’s her birthday after all, but with a green light and no favourite to return to, I booked the first sitting at Sabor Divino. Located in the Boardwalk Building in the heart of downtown, you’ll find it right on the southern tip of a stretch of restaurants that includes The Creperie, Old Spaghetti Factory and Haweli.
Owned and operated by chef Adelino Oliviera from Portugal and maitre d’ Christian Mena from Chile, I always figured this was a Portuguese restaurant, until further investigation on their website and menu, which say the food and décor are both a mix of old and new world. The concept is rich in European tradition and graced with modern flare. Authentic traditional European recipes are respected while being contemporized. The cuisine pays homage to the rustic village cooking, while elevating it to the finest of dining standard. All in a high quality, professional presentation, without being at all pretentious. The quintessential dining experience.
With our 5:15 sitting (we had plans after), it’s no surprise to discover we were the early birds. After being positioned on the far wall, we both looked around and took in the warmth this building has to offer. The gorgeous combination of brick and wood, combined with a perfect light and open concept worked delightfully at creating the mood. This is one beautiful room. After our meal choices were made, a bowl of green olives was delivered along with 3 buns, and a tray which included balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and butter. The combination was a great change from the every day starters offered around town, but I couldn’t help be disappointed by the rather dry and generic buns.
No sooner had we started dipping our bread, then the restaurant started to fill up. Probably because our orders were put in before the rush, we saw our plates and timing to be on the quick side of things. This wasn’t a problem however as we were both hungry and on a birthday time line. I was actually almost glad the appetizers arrived so quickly, because it gave me a reason to stop eating the olives. Salt Cod and Chickpeas – Roasted red and green peppers, endive, olive oil & lemon juice, and Broiled Eggplant Package – Fresh tomato, goat cheese, basil, wrapped in eggplant, balsamic vinaigrette and pine nuts.
The salt cod was great. With the consistency that reminded me of canned crab meat, it mixed with the sharp citric tang of lemon juice and olive oil to create a refreshing balance. The one downside we discovered was the heavy hand of oil turned this into a heavier dish as we neared the final bites that were left soaking. The broiled eggplant, which also comes as an entree size, was excellent and the favourite of the two. The mix of warm cheese, fresh tomato and balsamic was spot on. Yum!
Hearing great things about their seafood, I ordered the Broiled Octopus – Flame broiled octopus, roasted red peppers, onions, garlic, olive oil, black olives, while Sarah went with Grilled Veal Chop – 12oz. Milk fed veal chop, Port wine demi, spinach & portabella mushrooms. The two dishes looked great and were given a quick crack of black pepper when delivered. The octopus was hidden underneath a pile of perfectly roasted veggies, and after removing the top I saw a impressive portion of thick legs. Perfectly cooked, without that chewy texture so many dislike when ordering calamari. I would definitely recommend this dish for those who are curious. Sarah’s veal chop was just a tad more cooked then ordered, but the tender and flavourful meat yielded positive food noises as Sarah dug in. The demi was rich, the spinach and mushrooms were a great base, and combined with mashed potatoes that weren’t too buttery, I think Sarah gave a solid nod to the meal as she picked up the bone to nibble the last few bites.
A quick look through the dessert menu left us with an underwhelming feeling, and with birthday cake on the horizon, we simply ordered an americano and espresso before grabbing the bill. Sitting back and taking a few minutes, I’d have to think that Sabor Divino adds great value to the core. Not cheap, the veal chop was $39 for example, but a special occasion like this is worth the price of admission. Plus I hear they run cheaper specials during the day for the business crowd in the area. Either way, if you haven’t gone, I’d suggest you try it out this year.