November 17th, 2010
When I invited my friends to an authentic Portuguese restaurant a few nights ago, I didn’t know what to expect. I was absolutely clueless about Portuguese cuisine, and being the avid food critic that I am, I Googled it, then Wikied it, then learned it by heart (my credibility in front of my friends was at risk), and learned that when in a portuguese restaurant, one shall order cod.
Out of métro Mont-Royal, I make my way thought the deserted and gloomy street Marie-Anne Est to Chez Doval. Monsieur was already inside. I enter but there’s no Monsieur in sight. The place is tiny (as most Plateau hidden gastronomical treasures). Then, I learn that in the back, there’s a second room, about the size of the first. The waiters have Portuguese written on their foreheads. The place is crowded. So far, I’m amused. I give my ” Portugal is the most fish/ seafood eating country per capita in Europe” speech and order… shrimp. While waiting for our food, I watch three waiters freeze on the spot, mouth open, right in front of me. They stand there, lifelessly, and watch futebol on the big screen behind my back. A few feet away, a bouncy guitarist plays everything from La Bohème to This time for Africa with customers singing along and clapping.
When my grilled shrimp brochette arrives, I squeeze my lemon on top, and dive in. The house red wine is mouthwatering- not too bitter, just light enough. My friends are really enjoying their order, I try a little bit of everything and feel glorious of bringing them there. The lamb is juicy and grilled just right, the chicken well-seared and the mussels satisfy my friend’s appetite. We ask for dessert, and are persuaded to portuguese custard pastries. We go from trying one to ordering 6 more! I take a café allongé, which turns out to be one of the best coffees I had of late, and lie eyes wide open at 3 in the morning because coffee has this effect on me, and I knew what I was getting myself into all along. No regrets. I had the most fantastic night.