To mark the sad occasion of my 2008 Entertainment Book expiring, we had dinner at Spago (12433 97 Street NW) to utilize one last coupon.
I have been quite curious about the Portuguese restaurant – from what I could gather on the web, it has been around for a while, and is frequented by a series of regulars.
While the restaurant wasn’t at capacity on the Saturday evening that we visited, we were told by the hostess that business was picking up as the holiday season approached. The open room was conducive to the feeling of being in a large, welcoming kitchen accented with rustic wooden beams and large curtains that could be utilized as privacy denominators. The space looked like it hadn’t been touched since the eighties, with the telling stained-glass lamps above the bar and the buffet reminding me of Bonanza and many meals of my childhood, but at the same time, I felt at home in the room.
We were seated at a back corner booth, which, while tucked away for a sense of privacy, may have made it difficult for our server to know we were there. Thankfully for Mack, our wait was made easier with the open-access wifi he was able to connect to (like Oodle Noodle, the unintended benefit of being situated in a residential area). When our waitress finally greeted us for the first time, she apologized, and after that, steadily made up for our initial misgivings.
Admitting my own ignorance for Portuguese fare, I wouldn’t have been able to discern the authenticity of any dish, but the Pan-Seared Halibut ($23) grabbed my attention. Mack opted for the Paella ($23), hoping it would duplicate some of the flavours of Spain, where he first had the dish. I appreciated the upfront nature of the menu, which specified which dishes were not eligible for the coupon discount.
The kitchen was on the ball, as we didn’t have to wait long at all for our food. Steaming plates of were delivered to us, with Mack’s dish being a little more visually appealing than mine. The Mediterranean rub used on my 8oz. halibut was great – just enough kick to flavour but not overwhelm the fish, while the roasted garlic and tomato confit was a sweet accompaniment. Mack thoroughly enjoyed his paella, and the balanced amount of seafood and then some included (mussels, clams, prawns, shrimp, calamari, scallops, chicken chourico and pork), though he wished it didn’t cool down so fast – the rice didn’t quite taste the same cool as it did piping hot.
I’m really glad Spago decided to advertise in the Entertainment Book; we likely would have never wandered in on our own accord to find a venue great for families offering hearty and unpretentious fare.
12433 97 Street NW
Monday – Thursday 11am-10pm, Friday 11am-midnight, Saturday, 4pm-midnight, Sunday, 11am-9pm
Appetizers $6-12, Entrees $16-50, Desserts $4.25-8