Recently, I had the chance to visit Mata, a new Brazilian themed restaurant in the Queen St. West area of Toronto. If you are looking for a new and affordable place to enjoy some delicious food, this is the place for you. The chef put together a sampling of five courses for us, that were creative and delicious. I wasn’t sure that I was going to like all of them, but I was willing to give it a shot (as were the people I was dining with)!
We started with one of my favourites, Cheese Bread which was served with a Lobster Pastel. This got the evening started on the right foot for me. Then again when doesn’t warm bread and lobster start things off properly? The lobster was creamy and light and the pastel was not oily. I learned that pastels are very common on Brazilian menus and this one was a great introduction.
I was looking forward to the second course, which didn’t disappoint. Corvina Ceviche with Maple Candied Sweet Potato, Celery & Lime Marinate & Fresh Cilantro. I liked the taste of the dish and particularly liked the flavour that the sweet potato added. It was a nice creative touch for the dish.
The next course was one that I wasn’t sure about, Smoked Crispy Chicken Hearts with Cauliflower Puree and Ancho Chili Oil. To be honest, the preparation of the hearts and presentation had me won over when they arrived. They turned out to be a bit more “springy” than I anticipated but were a tasty item to expand my taste buds a bit.
The third course of Picanha Sliders with Cachaca Carmelized Onions, House Made Catupiry Cheese & Malagueta Pepper Aioli. These were delicious and disappeared quickly. Being curious, I looked up what Picanha was and it turns out that it is one of the most popular cuts of meat in Brazil. In North America, Picanha would be similar to the Top Sirloin Cap. No matter what you call it the meat is tasty and the combination with the cheese and aioli is a winner and the buns they use are awesome (which is the key to any good slider, in my opinion). I recommend these for your first visit to Mata!
The follow-up to the sliders was Grilled Octopus with Heart of Palm Puree, Raspberry & Balsamic Reduction & Taro Root Crisps. I have never tried grilled octopus and it’s amazing. The taste combination on this plate won me over and I would definitely order this item on a return visit. This was my personal surprise winner of the evening.
The final course was one I was looking forward to as well – Beef Cheek Poutine with Cassava Frites, Fresh Curds & Scallions. I have always heard that cheek was the “best” part of a number of animals and it certainly made this dish. A fan of poutine in all of its forms, this dish combined the Cassava frites very nicely with the rich gravy and cheese curds. A great way to close out our sampling of a very creative menu that showed off the experience and talent that the team at Mata has brought with them.
The evening was closed out with Avocado Creme Brulee, which I thought was a very creative and tasty turn on the traditional. If you love avocados and have saved room for dessert, this is the sweet treat for you.
Our meal was accompanied by two very delicious cocktails (I love cocktails) and I would gladly order both of them again. We were treated to a Classic Lime Caipirinha and my personal favourite, the Pisco Sour (Pisco, Egg White, Lime, Simple Syrup, Lemon Grass).
Mata is fueled by the creativity and enthusiasm of Felipe Faccioli, Tulio Lessa, Steve Fernandes and Sharath Dwarkanathan. This team has a wealth of experience in Toronto that includes, Salt Wine Bar, Fishbar, Chiado and Nota Bene. All of that experience and their hard work is visible from the passion that meets you at the front door of this restaurant. Next time you are in Parkdale, stop in and give their menu a try.
Mata is located at 1690 Queen Street West and is open at 5p.m. Tuesday – Sunday.