Mata Petisco Bar

Mata Petisco Bar recently opened in the west end of Toronto’s Parkdale – almost at Roncesvalles – a partnership between Felipe Faccioli, Patrick Fraser, Tulio Lessa, Steve Fernandes, and Sharath Dwarkanathan. Mata Petisco Bar is South American-inspired. “Petisco” is a Portuguese word for “small bites”.

In a fun, small world scenario, the way I learned about Mata’s impending opening was that while Patrick was still working at Two Bite Saloon my man asked them to partner with us at Luminato’s Taste of the Beach – and learned that Mata was opening and themselves participating in the event. Their Taste of the Beach dish, coconut gelato with cinnamon sugar grilled pineapple, was sublime. This is what I told them:

I’m salivating thinking about it now.

My man and I promised that we’d give them adequate time after they opened before stopping in for a meal. When I was invited to a media tasting at Mata I immediately asked if I could bring him along, a request graciously granted. And so, a week ago we had the opportunity to dine sample their summer tasting menu. Some of the food blew me away.

Mata Petisco Bar tasting menu

Mata Petisco Bar Tasting Menu, July 7, 2014

1. Cheese bread & lobster Pastel

Mata Petisco Bar cheese bread lobster pastel

Mata Petisco Bar cheese bread lobster pastel

These crispy Cheese Breads and fried lobster pastels were served with requeijão (creamy) cheese sauce that reminded me of a smoked salmon cream cheese. Every ethnicity has a version of dumplings or some form of filled, deep fried dough. Some of these looked like samosas. Dough filled and fried. ’nuff said.

2. Corvina Ceviche with Maple Candied Sweet Potato, Celery & Lime Marinade, & Fresh Cilantro

Mata Petisco Bar ceviche

Mata Petisco Bar corvina ceviche

Mata Petisco Bar’s ceviche is an amazing discovery of tastes and textures. Every bite was an adventure. Felipe commented that it looked like I was savouring it.

I credit my man for identifying the correct pairing, and trying it. He was so right. Mata Petisco Bar’s ceviche + IPA = perfect pairing. The citrus in the beer heightened the citrus in the ceviche. In retrospect, I wish I’d tried to pair every course. Then again, between the two cocktails and sharing his beers I was feeling slightly incoherent at the end of the evening. It takes surprisingly little these days.

3. Smoked Crispy Chicken Hearts with Cauliflower Puree and Ancho Chili Oil

Beautiful presentation. This one has potential but I want to taste organ meat, not “fried”. I could barely taste the meat. People will do many things to mask the taste of organ meat but you either like the meat or you don’t.  If you don’t like the taste of organ meat don’t order it. You could say that the chefs really put their hearts into this one (ha!). My opinion here might be entire subjective.

4. Picanha Slider with Cachaça Caramelized Onions, House Made Catupiry Cheese, & Malagueta Pepper Aioli

Mata Petisco Bar picanha slider

Mata Petisco Bar picanha slider

We’re fans of picanha around here. Picanha is a cut of beef popular in Brazil. It’s not well known in this part of the world, but (says Wikipedia) referred to as the rump cover or rump cap. My man and I buy picanha from our local butcher and eat it as steaks after marinating them in a vacuum sealed bag for a few days. Picanha is part of our regular repertoire of camping meals. Mata Petisco Bar’s idea of grinding the meat and serving it as a slider was brilliant. The fat cap makes for a super moist burger. Catupiry is a soft, mild-tasting, spreadable cheese. It made this picanha slider an onion-cheese burger like no other I recall tasting. The meat was so perfectly cooked medium rare. My eyes rolled back in my head when I tasted Mata’s picanha slider. I liked it so much that I wanted to be alone with it.

5. Grilled Octopus with Heart of Palm Puree, Raspberry & Balsamic Reduction, & Taro Root Crisps

More outstanding seafood. So often I find that cephalopod is cooked until it’s rubbery at restaurants. At Mata Petisco Bar it was expertly charred, sweet, tender, with the right amount of chew. It was outstanding with the entire trio of house-made hot pepper oil provided:

Mata Petisco Bar hot pepper oil

Mata Petisco Bar hot pepper oil

6. Beef Cheek Poutine with Cassava Frites, Fresh Curds, Scallion

Okay, man and I kind of took issue with this one. We’re thoroughly Canadian (him more so than me – I can sometimes claim “Jewish” as a food bias – see “smoked salmon” reference above). We take the word “poutine” seriously. “Poutine” this was not. While a nod to Canada and the poutine trend, Mata Petisco Bar’s “poutine” didn’t have the gravy or enough drippings to be called poutine. My man gave the chefs feedback about what type of cookware might be more suitable. Expectations aside, however, it was a solid dish. The cassava frites were so good that I want to eat them in a variety of applications. Just call the dish “cassava frites with beef cheek and curds”. I’ll be all over that.

Mata Petisco Bar Beef Cheek Poutine

Mata Petisco Bar Beef Cheek Poutine

Dessert: Avocado Crème Brûlée

It really did. Unfortunately, while I like avocado and have enjoyed the occasional avocado mousse in my time, the flavour didn’t do it for me. It was too avocado-y for my taste. It did have the satisfying “crack” when I broke the sugar and the burnt sugar IS the best part. I think you should order it though, and see what you think. Then come back here and tell me.

Drinks:

1. Classic Lime Caipirinha

Caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail, made with cachaça (sugar cane hard liquor), sugar and lime. Think of it as a Brazilian Daiquiri. After a long day, this hit the spot!

2. Pisco Sour

In a tweet that perhaps made me look more well-travelled than I am, I said:

Furthermore, it had egg whites. And it was beautiful:

Mata Petisco Bar Pisco Sour

Mata Petisco Bar Pisco Sour with lemongrass

When I stepped outside, I looked back at the restaurant and admired the sign. Here’s what I posted the next morning on Instagram:

Mata Petisco Bar sign

Pest control

You need to eat there. I need to go back and eat the entire menu.

Mata Petisco Bar – 1690 Queen Street West
http://www.matabar.ca/
Instagram: http://instagram.com/matabarto
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MataBarTO
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MataBarTO

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