Dinner at Nata's Pastries
I've been here for coffee and for lunch and always liked the place. It is one of the very few Portuguese restaurants around town. They recently got their beer and wine license so I gave it a try for dinner. They're open until 11 most nights. It was excellent.
When we sat down they brought us water, good bread, a small dish of great mixed olives and oil and vinegar. The oil was flavorful - I forgot to ask but it did taste like Portuguese olive oil - and perfect to dip the bread into.
They only have a few wines at this point, so no list. The waitress reeled them off and we ordered a bottle of Portuguese red without knowing anything about it. I do happen to like Portuguese wine a lot, and it is usually very reasonably priced for wine of its quality, so I was comfortable ordering it sight unseen. It was a fairly typical, very good Portuguese red table wine. I can't recall the name. It was pretty perky at first, but then softened nicely as it sat open while we slowly sipped small first glasses of it.
My friend had the mussels, which are listed as an appetizer but are a significant-sized portion. (I had a couple, but even so she didn't come close to finishing the dish.) They were excellent, garlickly, a very nice white wine broth, perfectly cooked. She ordered a side salad to go with them and it was very fresh, simple. lightly dressed.
I had the traditional clams and pork - a dish I particularly love, can cook very well myself and have had all over Portugal and in Macau. This version held up nicely. The pork in particular was superb, rich with the flavor of the sauce, but also plenty porky at the same time. The clams were cooked perfectly. There were cubes of potato that were firm but cooked through. In all, it was an excellent version of the dish. Maybe a tad bit richer and a bit less spicy than the way I cook it. I was very happy with it. It came with the same salad.
Service throughout was friendly, attentive but not overly so, and the place itself is small, comfortable and rather charming. The bill came to slightly over $60 for the two of us including a little more than a 20% tip.
I'll definitely be going back.
13317 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA
While I have never had anything from Natas except their malasadas, which are ho-hum, compared to the Hawaiian version I am used to, I find it interesting to hear that their dinners are quite good, in that they have only been serving them for a short while.
I have 4 bottles of a Portuguese wine, named Cabriz, which is outstanding, and would certainly go with that clams/pork dish. and since I can walk there from home, I think it may be time to try it for dinner.
Thanks for the idea - never would have even considered it beforehand.
My one lunch experience at Nata's was disappointing. I had a chicken soup with what seemed to be a nice broth, but I could detect no other seasoning besides salt.
I'm not a cook, but I think I might have enjoyed another spice and an herb or two.
That pork with clams does sound tasty, though.