Portland Variety


Back when I was living in a dorm during college, one of my now best friends called me a leech the first time we met due to my tendency to steal share food with people. Considering this inherent love of sharing food with others, tapas style meals were practically made for me. Why would anyone want to have just one dish when they can try many. It’s in this same breath that I’d like to tell you guys about my recent dinner at Portland Variety.

Toronto natives will know that Portland Variety is no stranger to the Toronto dining scene. A few weeks ago, I was invited to an intimate media dinner to preview dishes made by the restaurant’s original chef, Jo Castrinos, who recently returned to the establishment.


We started off with various pintxos, each more delicious than the last.

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After we’d stuffed ourselves silly with croquettes, ricotta and fig crostinis, and olives, we were served our first course – a mushroom salad. A teaser to what would be a very memorable meal.


Next came the Striped Bass Crudo. It was fresh and full of flavour. Our table was practically fighting over the last piece.


The Shrimp Pil Pil was hands down my favourite dish. It had a major kick to it, something the South Asian in me couldn’t resist.


The Moorish Chickpeas were to die for as well. You could smell the saffron in every bite.


Now, I’m a little wary of restaurants serving octopus because so many of them tend to overcook it. In fact, I’d had one such experience at Portland Variety itself back in 2014. However, they totally redeemed themselves with this dish. It was cooked and seasoned perfectly, almost beating the shrimp as my favourite dish.


By the time the 16oz rib-eye rolled around, my stomach could barely handle any more food. That being said, I tried a bite and can confirm it was delicious.


The Peri Peri chicken.


Patatas Bravas have been my guilty pleasure ever since I visited Spain 2 years back. I was so happy to find that Portland Variety had totally mastered this dish.

By the time we were served dessert, it was too dark to continue shooting, but guys, I wanted to talk to you about the beignets. The bite sized desserts were hands down one of the best I’ve had in the city. In fact, I loved it so much that I went back 2 days later just to grab myself a box of 6.

So next weekend, gather your friends and head to Portland Variety to share a meal. And if you don’t end up liking their beignets, I will eat my hat.




  1. Amy Arnold
    July 20, 2016 / 2:54 pm

    I LOVE sharing food with other people. You get to try more things. 🙂 This meal looks seriously amazing.

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

  2. July 20, 2016 / 9:46 pm

    The tapas look great! Haven’t had any for a long time…


  3. July 21, 2016 / 3:47 am

    This food looks Amazing! YUM
    Xx, Raysa

  4. July 21, 2016 / 3:53 am

    Oh my gosh, every single dish looks completely mouthwateringly appetizing. Or maybe it’s just your stunning photos! This sounds like it was such a fabulous dining experience.

  5. July 21, 2016 / 4:14 pm

    Everything looks amazing! 🙂 xx

  6. July 21, 2016 / 10:47 pm

    Wow everything looks delicious!!! Great photos! =)

    – Cielo
    Mermaid in Heels

  7. July 22, 2016 / 9:24 am

    I am busy eating brunch and browsing as we speak and now I am super hungry again, wow these dishes look amazing!!!! I also love sharing and getting to taste everything, I have super fomo when it comes to food haha 🙂

    Happy friday hun xx

  8. July 22, 2016 / 3:33 pm

    I love tapas and I have to admit that Patatas Bravas is one of my favourite dishes too (memories of sunny days in Spain!) so any place that masters this dish is good for me!
    Thanks for sharing these beautiful photos!
    Have a lovely weekend Siffat!
    Julia x

  9. July 22, 2016 / 6:11 pm

    What amazing food! I hope to visit the Toronto area someday in the future, I’ll definitely keep Portland in mind 🙂

    Edye | http://gracefulcoffee.wordpress.com

  10. July 24, 2016 / 12:19 pm

    LOVE Tapas! I can’t count how many times I ate tapas instead of dinner when I was living in Madrid!
    I see your pictures I just want to dig in!
    Aurelie | http://www.surface85.com