Friday, April 22, 2011
I first heard about Natas Pastries 4 years ago as being the only Portuguese Bakery in town. That intrigued me so much that I set up a Pastry Tasting with them for my dining group, which you can read about by clicking here.
Jump forward a few years later and Natas Pastries expanded their bakery to include a full-blown Portuguese restaurant. For a return visit, Natas Owner, Fatima Marques, put together a "Tour of Portugal" menu so that my dining group and I could get a taste of Portuguese cuisine. The meal started with a sip or two from a refreshing sangria.
Our first appetizer arrived in the form of Cafe Marinated Olives; nice, salty-briny bites to get your palate going.
The olives were followed by Pasteis de Bacalhau, which are Salt Cod Cakes. Think Crab Cakes without the crab. The fish's batter could have been a bit crispier, but the salt cod itself was tasty, moist and flaky.
What came next were Chouricos Grelhados, which were grilled Portuguese sausages with pickled vegetables. You really can't go wrong with grilled sausages, but serving them with the pickled vegetables was an interesting touch. It was definitely a blend of textures and flavors with the caramelization and meatiness of the sausages paired with the vinegary, crunchy texture of the vegetables.
Soup was next on the agenda and it came in the form of a Kale and Mashed Potato Soup. What was different for me regarding this dish was that there weren't chunks of potatoes in the soup itself. Instead, the potatoes were used more as a thickener; however, you could absolutely taste the potatoes with each spoonful along with the kale. I liked the soup, but personally, I felt it needed a little more seasoning. Perhaps, a little pepper?
Our fifth dish was like Surf and Turf, but all mixed in a stew and I'm talking about the Carne de Porco and Alentejana, which was a Pork, Potatoes and Clam Stew. It's the kind of dish that as a Filipina, I would have loved to eat with rice and although a tad oily, I was a happy to dip my bread in the wine-based sauce and of course, how could I say no to fried pork.
The last savory dish of our meal was the Bacalhau Com Natas aka Baked Salt Cod with Potatoes and Cream. Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling this dish. It's really a preferential thing. When it comes to fish, I like it fried, grilled or roasted.If it is baked, I like it much simpler without heavy sauces, cream or otherwise. I did want to try this dish to see if I'd like it, but it just wasn't my cup of tea.
With a name liked Natas, desserts are of course, going to be wonderful and they were. Our first dessert were Natas, which are traditional Portuguese desserts and are basically egg tarts. I loved the flakiness of the pastry, the caramelization from torching of the custard's surface and of course, the creaminess of the custard itself. Yum!
For our last course and second dessert, we all got to try the Salame de Chocolate, which is a Chocolate and Butter Biscotti dipped in Chocolate. By the way, don't let the "Biscotti" fool you. This Salame de Chocolate is more cake-like in its texture and I absolutely loved it. Natas definitely hit two home runs in the dessert department.
Overall, it was a nice meal and I definitely tried some things I've never had before and if you'd like your own of Foodie Tour of Portugal, stop by Natas. They're open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and you can check out their menu by clicking here.
13317 Ventura Boulevard #D
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423