Porkfest at Sabor Divino – on until November 17th
Wednesday we got hammered with snow. As Edmontonians slid across the slick roads and evacuated the downtown core, I managed to coerce one friend with 4×4 to cross the North Saskatchewan so we could check out Sabor Divino’s Porkfest on from October 15 – November 17.
This was the first visit to Sabor Divino for both me and my friend Christopher. We were greeted with admiration for braving the blast of winter on a miserable driving day, and as a reward we were given our choice of table in the centre of the restaurant. A massive room in the Boardwalk Building, the open layout of the restaurant with exposed brick walls makes this a unique place for a restaurant in the downtown core; I dug it instantly.
While we missed out on the vibe of the restaurant being full people, there were benefits to braving the weather; we got to meet and be spoiled by Chef Lino Oliveira in a beautiful Portuguese restaurant.
For his Porkfest menu, Chef Oliveira went all out with six starters and six swine-filled main dishes. Since just about everything could be made gluten free for me, and Chef Oliveira made everything sound amazing, we couldn’t decide on what to order. We settled on five dishes that Chef Oliveira was kind enough to split for the two of us into a five-course Porkfest tasting menu.
First up was Pork and Pea Soup – a pea puree with smoked pork hock. A beautiful green bowl of soup arrived and warmed both of us up immediately. Christopher said it was the best pork and pea soup he’s ever had; it was the kind of soup worth braving the weather for.
Second course – Grilled Calamari & Pork Belly with roasted red and yellow peppers, onion, cilantro, and a white bean puree. Finding a gluten free calamari can be a challenge so this dish had me excited, and paired with my favourite part of the pig it was an instant winner.
Third course (our first main) was a Pulled Pork and Wild Mushroom Risotto. I’m used to seeing pulled pork on food truck and gastro-pub menus, so I thought it was very unique to use an alternative cut of meat like the shoulder for a gourmet bowl of risotto. The texture and flavour of the pulled pork flavour paired very nicely with variety of mushrooms Chef Oliveira used – again this dish was another winner.
Our fourth dish was Pork & Clams – pan roasted pork tenderloin and fresh clams with white wine, garlic, cilantro and pimento. This is a signature Sabor Divino dish that has a spot on the regular menu. I can see why, seafood and pork go very, very well together.
Chef Oliveira saved a masterpiece for our fifth dish. A generous portion of braised pork belly served on bacon, potato, butternut squash, kale and chanterelle mushroom hash served with a poached egg yolk, and a balsamic and quince reduction. Christopher was suffering from over eating, and yet he couldn’t stop himself from putting one more bite in his mouth.
I’m used to seeing pork belly as a starter, so I thought this was another creative way to use an alternative cut of meat as a main dish. The crackling was perfect, the hash was so full of flavour, and the reduction was sweet and sticky like jam; it was the perfect pork creation. Chef Oliveira told us it was a brunch creation, but he couldn’t resist putting it on the Pork Fest menu. We were certainly glad he did.
We thought that was the end to our Porkfest extravaganza (Christopher had started getting the meat sweats), but our server brought us out new cutlery and we were in for a treat. Chef Oliveira said we just had to try his bacon pumpkin cheesecake. He
carefully removed the crust for this gluten free girl, but said I was missing out on some of the bacon smothered in there. My first bite was heaven, and when I paired it with a bite of a salty chocolate stick that was a garnish… well it got even better.
Christopher somehow ‘managed’ to make room and basically lick his plate clean. It was an incredible way to finish a truly amazing meal.
Chef Lino Oliveira and his serving staff absolutely spoiled us, and we enjoyed a Porkfest of epic proportions. I cannot recommend enough that all pork lovers in Edmonton must try this menu.
Porkfest is on at Sabor Divino until Novemerb 17th.