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Oct 17, 2009 08:42 PM

Sabor Divino Edmonton: Very good overall, some imperfections, 4 stars for food, 3 for service

We went last night to try Sabor Divino for the first time for a 6:15 reservation for dinner, for Canadawg2's birthday. Lovely room, very open, extremely comfortable chairs, nice lighting. The hostess was prompt and civil; she offered to take our coats and showed us hooks on a nearby pillar as an alternative. Really comfy restaurant chairs are a rarity, so we were well disposed to start with! I liked the criss-cross table runners instead of placemats or a full tablecloth. Nice quality cloth napkins and good heavy silverware and glassware. The bathroom has individual rolled cloth towels instead of paper - points to them!

Our waiter was a very upright middle-aged Portuguese fellow who I swear cracked half a smile maybe once all evening. He was technically perfect as he worked the table, but didn't show the slightest interest in us or show any pleasure that we were there. He asked us how things were in a perfunctory manner, and was across the room before our mouths were half open to answer him. It got pretty funny after the second glass of wine.

A nice china plate of olives, a charger of butter, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and a basket of bread appeared promptly. The big green olives are great.

For apps we ordered the 5 tomato salad with onions, and the charcuteria plate for two. For $18 we got a lot of good interesting smoked meats, three slices of nice pate, some cheeses ( a herbed feta, something else that tasted kind of like gouda, and a mozzarella with tomato slices and balsamic), as well as a few more olives and some pickled peppers. Definitely good value. The tomatoes in the tomato salad were well seasoned but not as good as one might hope for this time of year. It was a good combination of dishes, though.

For mains, my partner had tagliatelle with lobster and prawns, and I had pork with clams (how non kosher can you get?). The tagliatelle was perfectly cooked, infused with lobster flavour. The lobster itself was generously portioned and tender. My clams were in a delicious rich tangy sauce. The thin slices of potato that came with them were a bit al dente for my taste and could have used a bit more crisping on the outside (like the potatoes at Spago), but they were yummy in the sauce and I ate them all up. It was a bad idea for them to try updating the dish with pork tenderloin, though, since it turned out dry and was carved in big chunks. The sauce couldn't redeem the pork, so it came home for our dogs, who were very happy indeed (unlike the waiter, who sneered at us for asking for a doggy bag).

One of the most fun parts of the evening were the tiny tasting servings of chocolate cayenne mousse and creme brulee for dessert. What a great idea! We never have room for dessert but always want to try a bite, and $3 a serving makes it manageable. We had slightly burnt but tasty espressos with dessert, a very nice glass of red wine (2007 Quinta do Crasto) with the apps and some really really good viognier with the mains. The stuffy waiter was good with the wine, and the temperatures were perfect.

There was a guitarist playing live (with a bit much amplification), who was very competent. We enjoyed it when he played Spanish classics, got a little tired of Beatles songs turned into elevator music and had terrible trouble stifling our giggles when the host joined him to perform Michael Jackson's "Rock With Me." Dude, no. He had a nice voice, and was pleasant when we were leaving, but no.

We'll definitely go back. The flaws were interesting, mostly, and the food was worth the reasonable price.

Sabor Divino Restaurant & Lounge
10220 103 Street NW, Edmonton, AB T5J 0Y8, CA

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  1. Wow, it really says a lot about Edmonton when "really good overall" includes what sounds like absolutely horrible service (not sure what 'technically perfect' is, but a server that doesn't pay attention to the customers is in the wrong business); dry pork tenderloin that you give to your dog; burnt espresso; just OK tomatoes (it's tomato season!); just OK potatos...

    How much were the entrees?

    4 Replies
    1. re: Dan G

      Absolutely agree! Especially the "sneered" part, I love my dog and always take the excess home.

      1. re: Dan G

        Dan, I know what you mean, but the high points were really high and made up for the lows. "Really good" is not "excellent," but it's really good. I'm still wanting more of those clams, and the lobster pasta was outstanding. The desserts were charmingly portioned and delicious. The wine prices and selections were reasonable, and we made good choices that complemented the food well.

        OK tomatoes in tomato season was weird, I agree. OTOH the tomatoes out of our garden weren't outstanding this summer either, so maybe it was a weather thing? Or maybe we're just spoiled by having our own at hand.

        By technically perfect I mean the waiter was prompt and unobtrusive, dealt with the wine nicely, paid attention to crumbs and plates and utensils, and answered questions competently. It just felt as if he didn't like us much and would have been happier if we weren't there. Maybe he didn't like two women holding hands? Who knows. I'd rather have competence than a new best friend, but ideally I'd like a little warmth. The hostess and the singing host guy were both pleasant and welcoming.

        The tagliatelle was $32 (not overpriced; it was full of lobster and prawns), the pork and clams were $28.

        My partner used to cook for a living, years ago, and is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy; we moved up here from the Bay Area a few years ago, so it's not as if we don't know good food. We've eaten at Chez Panisse, Bay Wolf, Oliveto, Zuni Cafe, you name it. This was good overall. Not perfect, but good. I wouldn't bother writing a review if it were abysmal!

        1. re: Canadawg1

          Around here we like abysmal reviews too so that we get a wider range of opinions. ;)

        2. re: Dan G

          Though maybe reserved and grumpy at times, Portugese waiters dominate the high end cruise ship industry (with the Austrians).

        3. Thanks so much for the excellent review. We went once, and were so turned off the service that we just left without ordering. We were seated, ignored for at least 15 minutes while our server talked to other staff, then he wandered over and stood looking at us without saying anything. My friend asked for a glass of wine, and before I could order a beverage, he walked away, again without saying anything. We were stunned, my friend called after him and said we changed our minds, never mind about the wine, and we left. We were stunned by the absolute apathy shown us - there was one other table with customers, it was just 6pm on a midweek night.
          We had heard good things about the food, and really wanted to try it. With your review of the food, I will likely try again, and will keep an open mind and sense of humour about the service.

          1. hmm...that lobster/prawn pasta sounds so good - maybe i'll check it out. i might avoid the whole big meal out thing - and just go and have pasta, wine, and end it there.
            ps - i sure hope it wasn't homophobia - restaurants need to appreciate ALL customers - but wouldn't be shocked if that was the issue with the dude.