Cantina 32

Cantina32 - 1Cantina 32 is a space that doesn’t need introduction, in just a bit more than a year it has already filled several lines in the most diverse national and international publications (including the NY Times), blogs and social networks. In between all that, it has also won the “amazing” title of Revelation Restaurant in the Flavors and Senses – The best for 2015 Awards (see).

The concept is relatively simple, an uncomplicated cuisine where the goal is sharing and interacting between clients and staff, creating a familiar environment for that, it counts with the signature of Luís Américo, famous for his pizzas and grill, master for dishes like the pumpkin fondant or the codfish in bread dough, which gave him the title of Cooking Chef of the Year 2014.

Cantina32 - 2The decoration, in charge of the co-owner Inês Mergulhão, is one of the spaces’ highlights, with an environment that perfectly mixes the industrial chic, with the vintage and the rustic, creating an informal and cosmopolitan ambiance where it’s easy for us to feel good.

Since its opening they’ve had a full house almost the entire time, among Porto’s crowd and tourists, reason why it became one of the hardest restaurants in the city to get a table at – mandatory booking and with time is the soul of the business!

But on to what really matters, the table. Already settled, we started with the couvert (1.80), good bread, some fun lupins and an interesting banana butter that easily reminds us of the banana and marmalade bread! Peeking at the menu we find dishes divided into categories that go something like that “Picar, Petiscar e Partilhar” (snack and share), “Sandwiches and Similar Stuff”, “Salads and Lighter Options” and “Truly Serious Proposals”.

We started with a series of appetizers that quickly arrived to the table, at the same time to make our lives harder!

Cantina32 - 5Cured Salmon in Mustard, orange, shallots sauce and grated egg (8.50)
The cured salmon is one of the brands of the restaurant and something we hardly resist when it appears in a menu. Good cure, good sauce with dill and the shallot creating a good dimension of flavors, also the orange working well with its freshness, although I would prefer it to be a bit more acidic. Also interesting the egg and the grater, in a DIY style. Very good.

Cantina32 - 6Portobello with caramelized goat cheese, smoked belly and pepper jam (8.50€)
A deceivingly simple dish that lives off the texture game, well accokplished and with a good connection between elements provided by the pepper jam.

Cantina32 - 4Duck liver pate with red fruits jam and anise (8.00€)
Forgive me the dear ducks and gooses, but I hardly resist their livers. Here presented in a generous tureen, at the right temperature and a sinful red fruit jam that balanced very well the fat of the tureen. The best of the starters.

Cantina32 - 7Bísaro pork neck, mushroom rice and chestnuts (20)
Excellent meat, cooked at the correct temperature, moist and melting, with delicate flavor. The side, mushroom rice, had everything to work out fine, if it weren’t for the excess of salt.

Cantina32 - 8Caramelized Banana Cheesecake and chocolate (3.5€)The presentation of this cheesecake, although not original (I remember, for example, Heston Blumenthal presenting a Tiramisu in the same way) is the delight of the clients and it is certainly one of the most requested/commented/photographed dishes of Cantina 32. The “dirt” made of chocolate cookies (Oreo like) contrasts nicely with the classic banana/caramel combo. The dessert misses the spot because of the gelatinous texture of the cheesecake. A case where the eye wins to the taste.

The wine list is one of the least interesting things in the restaurant. The wine by the glass offer is good, but the amount and selection of wines is short. I was expecting some more irreverent and “out of the box” suggestions, according to the space. We accompanied our meal with a Diálogo Branco 2013 from Niepoort (15.5).

The Service is the most informal and fun possible, though I confess I like creating some empathy with those serving at our table, but that becomes hard when we are attended by the entire staff. It is still praisable the quickness and efficience in a full house night.

Cantina32 - 3

Final Remarks
Everything Luís Américo does usually does well, whether in simple concepts with an almost mathematic formula or a bit bolder, and this Cantina 32 is not an exception. A concept very well created and studied, an honest cuisine and almost familiar with a very fun clothing that captivates the interest of the clients, where is possible to eat with little money or 40€ p.p., opening the door to every type of client.

It is for sure, a space in which one or another mistake doesn’t take away the will to return, the food is comforting and we feel very well in this Cantina, and its success is proof of that! But it is also a space that makes me dream of other dishes knowing the capacity Luís Américo goes way beyond the comfort food. Maybe one day! Or we must book a trip to Macao!

Cantina 32
Rua das Flores, nº 32 – Porto
+351 222 039 069

Versão Portuguesa

Text: João Oliveira | Text: Flavors & Senses

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