First Look: Quinta Restaurant, where Iberian cuisine gets classical French treatment
By Anna Silman
Quinta's charcuterie board (Images: Anna Silman)
Last month we told you about Quinta, chef Leor Zimerman’s Iberian farmhouse-inspired restaurant on Dundas West. The new spot opened yesterday, and with French technique, Iberian flavours, a Canadian-centric drinks list and decorations sourced from Italy, Asia and beyond, Quinta is a fusion of influences and inspirations. And this cultural mélange is exactly what makes it so unique.
Regarding his Iberian influences, Zimerman says, “I’m trying not to get too pigeonholed, while still keeping my focus on that part of the map.”
Quinta takes its name from Quinta do Barranco da Estrada, a boutique hotel in Southern Portugal where much of Zimerman’s culinary sensibility was shaped.
With its crisp, spacious interior and galvanized steel chairs, Quinta hardly resembles a Portuguese farmhouse, but he and manager Nik Halkias tried to “imbue it with that old world feeling.” That means tables made with reclaimed lumber, jars of homemade preserves and spices, vintage metal tins and containers, a ’50s Italian movie poster and a host of other carefully-selected retro knicknacks.
Quinta’s menu, which is based around a classic French preparation of traditional Portugese and Spanish home-style country cooking, is modest, featuring four starters, four mains and three desserts.
“We would rather provide good food and a good atmosphere than try to overextend ourselves,” Zimerman says.
The carefully-chosen offerings consist of Zimerman’s personal takes on a number of quintessentially Iberian flavours. Along with specials that change daily (when we were there, these included roast rabbit and lake trout), menu stalwarts include a charcuterie board to start ($12) and a fish of the day ($18).
A clear menu standout is the pork and clams ($18), a dish lifted from the Alentejo region of Portugal. This generously-sized dish features crispy strips of braised pork belly and clams cooked in pork fat and a broth of Mill Street Organic Lager, with potatoes, carrots and fresh herbs to top it off. The dish comes served in a terracotta clay dish with a thick chunk of bread.
There’s also a piri-piri cornish hen ($16), which is marinated with ginger, garlic, onions, herbs and Zimerman’s homemade hot sauce. The cornish hen is served with mandoline-cut French fries and a helping of rice to boot.
“The Portugese are big on two starches on one plate,” Zimerman says, “and I’m okay with that as well.”
While the menu is presently the same for both lunch and dinner, Zimerman plans to adjust the selections and prices featured on the lunch menu, as well as offering a prix-fixe option.
Quinta also boasts an impressive drinks menu, with a selection of wine and beer derived mostly from Ontario, and a host of cocktails put together by resident mixologist William James Jordan. The cocktails tend to showcase a modern twist on traditional favourites, and are made with Jordan’s homemade syrups and flavourings. For $10, cocktail aficionados can sample a Negroni, made not with gin but with mescal, a spicy tequila, and homemade black walnut bitters. The inclusion of the fiery mescal, which is of Mexican origins, is just one of many examples of the genre-bending cuisine that Quinta is bringing to the Dundas West strip.
As Zimerman says, laughing, “I have a lot of different influences.”
Quinta Restaurant, 1282 Dundas W., 416-534-0407