New Casa Abril- Portugese Miracle
- Vinnie Vidimangi
New Casa Abril, 475 Oakwood Ave, 416-654-9696
Prix fixe Monday to Thursday $16.95, Cottage cheese, olives on the table, soup or salad, main course with sides, dessert and coffee. A full and excellent meal at an astoundingly low price. Elegant Mediterranean style (non yuppie variety) restaurant- banquet hall. Miraclulous in Toronto. You can even bring someone here on a special occaision for $16.95. (Monday to Thursday) Owner should be beatified.
We had been to NCA infrequently in the past: it had been reasonably sound, good value, different and cheap. Some months ago someone new came into the kitchen. The food is now excellent and the price, which stayed the same, has in comparison become amazingly low.
Now I should tell you that we have always had the prix fixe, but for once when we had a coupon. The selection was the sort of thing that we would have anyway, and we thought the selections representative, and it was cheap. So why venture into greater expense?
So we chose between the veal scalopini in Marsala, the house steak (sauteed in wine, egg on top) and the grouper. The fish was indifferent; for this reason we never tried either of the two seafood entrees on the prix fixe. We figured that the high cost of seafood prohibited a good dish at the price.
Dinner begins a plate of kalmatia olives, artisan like cottage cheese and a basket of bread. The bread is three varieties and all are disappointing even in this period of decline in Portugese baking in Toronto. (The qulaity of Potugese baking varies inversely with the strength of the Portugese economy. Nowadays construction in Portugal is done by Ukranian gastarbeiters!) We like the cheese with fresh ground pepper on it.
The soup had never been worth the trip. In our limited experience it seems that the Portguese don't have a soup culture and if they do I don't understand it. So we ended up choosing the salad (butter lettuce , egg, red onion,tomato, red pepper) which was very good once we figured out that we had to ask for the dressing on the side so that it wouldn't be harshly drowned. We urge this course on you. We haven't asked for soup since the revival of the kitchen; we will next time to see how it goes.
The sauteed steak (a nice striploin and veal marsala are very nicely cooked, with refinement (considering how these dishes can be) and very tasty. Portions are generous. Specify how you want the egg on the steak; we leave it off. The french fries and crisp fried potato slices are home made and excellent. We had come to refuse the vegetables because they were heavily salted and overcooked; there was enough to eat otherwise. Last time we asked for the vegetables in revenge on a family member who is an automatic salter. We were pleasantly surprised. The rapini was very good; we did leave the carrots even the the salt had been reduced.
Dessert is a choice of fresh pineapple splashed with port, orange slices splashed with Gran Marnier with whipped cream, passionfruit pudding, an full flavoured but unctuous chocolate mousse, cheesecake and a couple of Portugese cake things that we once tried but I now can't remember.
The fruit desserts are delicious and go with the meal
in every way. The Portugese do understand fruit. The cheesecake is homemade, but has too much flour in the mix and is best eaten as snack with coffee or tea. I have never seen cheesecake in a Portugese bakery.
Pretty good coffee or tea come with the meal.
The last time we were four and each of us including the wife's fatty ma has a very different palate. Notwithstanding, each of us thought that the meal was excellent, and without reference to price. Either good or cheap in Toronto is unusual; when they appear before you together it is a miracle.