TASTE Portuguese Cuisine

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover but whoever “they” are, they’re wrong. Judging books based on their covers is pretty much the basis of the entire graphic design industry.

When you’re shopping for a book, if you can’t judge it by its cover, what are you going to judge it on? Outside of reading a chapter or two in the ubiquitous adjoining coffee shop, you have to rely on the imagery and typography to make that decision for you. A mere flash across your field of vision tells you if it’s sci-fi adventure, chick-lit, a classic, self-help, or a dark crime thriller. You can tell in less than a nano-second if the book even has the possibility of floating your boat.

The newly opened Taste is a hip, modern restaurant/lounge focussing on Portuguese cuisine but subtly fused with a blend of world flavours. Their signage however (Cooper Black Italic? Really?), says it’s a cheap greasy spoon or sandwich house. Though the logo does look a little better in reversed type on the website and business cards, merda that sign is ugly.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) the cover to this book is misleading.

Though we were pleasantly surprised to learn we’d misjudged Taste, the signage unfortunate for two basic reasons:

  1. A lot of people who’d appreciate the restaurant might give it a pass based on a glance at the sign; and
  2. A lot of people who come in expecting, based on the sign, cheap beer and cheaper food are going to be turned off by the excellent menu.

Not that it’s a high-priced joint by any stretch nor is the food too cosmopolitan for the average burger lover. One of the most appealing items on the menu is actually a cheeseburger with, get this, “bacon and onion” chutney on it.  I’m not sure why neither of us tried it. Apparently we were both in the mood for pulled-pork sandwiches.

Pulled-pork seems to be my new watermark sandwich for judging a restaurant at lunchtime. I’m not sure why. Probably because its an excuse to have a pulled-pork sandwich. Since it’s hard to screw up such a simple sandwich, it’s also a pretty safe bet. And I do like a safe bet. The simplicity of pulled-pork is also a great way for a restaurant to showcase the extra care and attention to detail. It’s the sort of meal that leaves no room for error.

The pulled-pork at Taste is excellent. First of all, it’s on  a round bun which makes it less messy somehow. My chin and the front of my shirt appreciated this. The sauce isn’t too sweet or too bland either but what really sealed the deal was the sautéed onions. If I were to quibble, I’d ask why no one thinks to put cheese (say, a nice smoked mozzarella) on these things. Since no one seems to, I can’t dock marks for what might have been the best sandwich I’ve ever devoured. If only. Instead it was as good a pulled-pork sandwich as I’ve had since moving to Toronto.

It really made me wish we’d tried the cheeseburger with the bacon-and-freaking-onion chutney. Next time.

And there will be a next time. This neighborhood (Lakeshore and Sixth) needs a place like Taste. In fact, it needs a hell of a lot more places I want (and don’t fear) to sit down in. Places with more to offer than Bud Light on special. Places with original art on the walls and something going on besides sports on the TV. Starting in August they’re going to have live music on Friday nights and they already have a ladies night special on Tuesdays. There’s also a “Dinner and a Movie” night where they play old films.

Here’s hoping people can see past the sign. In the meantime, we’ll just pretend it looks more like this:

Rating: 5 awesome pulled-pork sandwiches out of 1 bad sign.


3 Responses to TASTE Portuguese Cuisine

  1. Elizabeth Young says:

    your sign is WAY better.

  2. mrdapper says:

    Thanks Liz. They’ve posted this review on their website, so my fears they’d be offended seem to be somewhat mislaid.

  3. Myriam says:

    That sign that you posted above the actual, really has the oomph to draw the customers in. I’m really hoping that they can eventually change their original sign and go for this one. Well done. Haven’t eaten there yet, but I will be sure to do that. 🙂

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