Mata Petisco Bar

Friday, July 18, 2014

Mata Petisco Bar brings South American petisqueria (shared-plate dining) to Parkdale thanks to the expert culinary team of Felipe Faccioli, Tulio Lessa, Patrick Fraser, Steve Fernandes and Sharath Dwarkanathan. Each of the men bring their own unique flair to the menu from having worked at such notable Toronto establishments such as Salt Wine Bar, Chiado and Fishbar. Some of the men also hail from South American countries so their knack for authentic cuisine is deep-rooted.  The restaurant pays homage to Brazilian culinary traditions by using staple ingredients like catipury cheese, chorizo and picanha and then combining them with local ingredients to evolve the cuisine in an enticingly creative way.

A few weeks ago I was invited to the Media Launch at Mata Petisco Bar to sample their South American tapas-style menu.  The menu had some items that I knew I would love such as the Beef Cheek Poutine and Lobster Pastel. There were also some items that were new to my palate such as the Smoked Crispy Chicken Hearts.  Although I am a foodie,  chicken hearts fall into the 'peculiar'  category for me and are not high on my priority list of new things to try. However, I will try anything once and I like to save my adventurous tastings for times when the food is prepared in a way that is appetizing to my fastidious ways.  Luckily for me, the hearts were prepared crispy and smoky so this was my opportunity to try the little organs out.

We started the menu off with a creamy Lobster Pastel and Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pão De Queijo) with a side of Requeijão Cheese Sauce.  I have had the crowd-pleasing cheese bread before at South American restaurants so I was happy to taste the authenticity in these puffs. The pastel, which is a popular Latin fast-food dish was crispy but not oily and had a rich and flavourful creamy lobster filling.

Next was the Corvina Ceviche with maple candied sweet potato, celery and lime marinade, red onion, cucumber and fresh cilantro.  This ceviche was very mild and refreshing thanks to the small chunks of cucumber and sweet potato. The fish was very tender but the pieces of fish were quite large. I personally would've preferred smaller pieces but I still enjoyed the freshness of this ceviche.

Now on to the hearts! I know you all are dying (ha ha) to hear about my first experience eating a chicken heart so here it goes.  The dish came out beautifully prepared with the crispy hearts thread through skewers and placed on top of cauliflower purée with ancho chili oil and smoked pecans.  I picked up a skewer and carefully inspected the hearts.  They were small and reminded me of a Kalamata Olive. I dipped one heart into the purée and ancho oil and popped it in my mouth.  The first few chews were interesting as the texture was very new to me. I still can’t pinpoint what the heart tasted like after eating two but I do know that they were a bit springy and chewy and had a musky offal flavour. Needless to say I didn't love them but I didn't hate them, but according to the heart-eating experts at my table, they were top-notch!

The Picanha Sliders were next and I was ready to dig in.  Picanha is a popular Brazilian cut of beef that encompasses wonderful flavour and tenderness. These sliders were topped with cachaça (a spirit distilled with sugarcane juice) caramelized onions, house made catupiry cheese and malagueta pepper aioli. The toppings paired perfectly with the juicy beef and every bite was irresistible. 

The sliders were followed up by the Grilled Octopus served with heart of palm puree, raspberry/balsamic reduction and taro root chips.  The octopus was grilled perfectly and the char on the outside gave the octopus a light smoky flavour that really made this dish wonderful.  The heart of palm puree was quite tasteless so I didn't really feel the need to slather it over the octopus.  The balsamic and raspberry reduction however paired lovely with the octopus and I wished for more of it on the plate.

The last main dish was the Beef Cheek Poutine and boy did this hit the spot.  Cassava was always around the dinner table growing up so I was excited to see it being used in a Canadian inspired dish.  The cassava frites were crispy and had a lovely chewy centre and the generous amount of cheese curds, beef cheek and scallions brought this dish together in a blissful manner. I tried to be lady-lake with this dish but overly helped myself with the servings.

At last there is always room for dessert and it was an Avocado Crème Brulee.  I immediately knew that this would be a hit or miss for me and unfortunately it was a miss.  I found that the creamy avocado filling was exceptionally sweet and lacked flavour. This was just a bit of an odd dessert to me and next time I visit Mata Bar I'll be ordering their other dessert that sounds more suited to my tastes, the Dulce de Leche Cheesecake with Sailor Jerry Caramel!

The two cocktails I tried was the Pisco Sour (pisco, egg white, lime, simple syrup, lemon grass) and Classic Lime Caipirinha (cachaça, lime, simple syrup, sugar cane) both of which were crafted perfectly and made me wish I was laying on a beach in Rio.

Mata Bar is located at 1690 Queen Street West and opens at 5 pm Tuesday to Sunday. There are also plans to open for weekend brunch in the future.

Mata Petisco Bar on Urbanspoon

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