n our ongoing series The Reveal, we go behind closed doors and introduce you to the people and food of the city’s newest restaurants and undiscovered places.
This week, we enter one of the best new restaurants of the year, Mata Petisco Bar.
The Gist: Five guys - Patrick Fraser, Felipe Faccioli, Tulio Lessa, Steve Fernandes and Sharath Dwarkanathan - came together to bring the city an authentic South American experience with vibrant food and drinks and warm hospitality (Mata believes South Americans are the happiest people and they want you to “leave with a happy experience.”).
You’ll quickly fall for the unique small sharing plates (called petisco in Brazil) and stunning drinks in a fun, welcoming atmosphere.
Currently only open for dinner and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.
Grub: The “South American inspired” food is deeply rooted in Brazilian cuisine, but has been adapted for Toronto (they bread the chicken hearts for the more squeamish Canadian audience). You’ll also find some Portuguese and Spanish influence in there, thanks to the combined restaurant experience of the talented team.
Libations: In addition to beer and wine, the cocktail program is incredible. Caipirinhas ($12) made with Cachaça, a distilled spirit made from sugarcane juice from Brazil, come in a variety of flavours - Classic Lime, Kiwi, Mango, Passion Fruit, and Guava. Go ahead and try and have just one. An elegant version comes way of Espumante Coconut Caipirinha ($12), made with cachaça, egg whites, coconut water, simple syrup, lime, muddled malagueta pepper and toasted coconut flakes.
A nice twist on cachaça cocktails is the Cachaça Caesar ($12), perfect for the soon-to-come brunch. And get a real Pisco Sour ($12) made with actual pisco (grape brandy made in Chile and Peru), alongside egg whites, lime, simple syrup and lemongrass.
Deets: The restaurant seats 50, plus seating at the bar. The kitchen has a window at the pass so you can watch the chefs working away.
Plans are in the works to project old South American movies on the big screen (recently used for World Cup viewing) and creating a “shantytown” feel to the downstairs area.
Fixtures & Fittings: The team did most of the renovations themselves. But they also enlisted the help of Ian Rydberg of SD&B - Solid Design & Build Inc. (who has designed La Carnita, Speakeasy 21, Evolution Food Co., to name a few). Reclaimed wood banquette and tables have been highly polished, keeping it from looking like every other new place on the block. Industrial elements have been implanted – lighting fixtures made of rolled plastic, yellow wire pendant lamp – but only here and there, making it cool, yet extremely inviting.
The one stand out here is the layout of the room – Nice and spacious in the middle so you’ll never feel overwhelmed or overcrowded, and a sweet little bar in the back corner.
Off the Menu: The menu features bold dishes you won’t find elsewhere in the city:
Beef Cheek Poutine ($14) puts other poutines to shame with its tender smoked beef cheeks in a red wine demi-glace on top of cassava frites, finished with cheese curds and fresh herbs
Trio of Pastel ($12) like empanadas, except crispier - Beef, Egg & Green Olive, Chicken & Catupiry Cheese, Creamy Lobster
Smoked Crispy Chicken Hearts ($8) served with a rich, elegant cauliflower purée, ancho chili oil, and smoked pecans
Tuna & Watermelon Tartare ($13) is the perfect summer refresher with ahi tuna, compressed watermelon, coconut water, lime, mint, pea shoots, and parsnip crisps
Baked Escondidinho ($16), a Brazilian version of shepherd’s pie usually make with salted air cured beef and cassava, is reinvented here with mashed cassava, creamy lobster & shrimp and parmesan
Save room for dessert ($7), currently Avocado Crème Brulée, Guava Panna Cotta, and Dulce de Leche Cheesecake with Sailor Jerry Caramel. Drool.
How Cool is This?! The entire place and menu. Move over Mexican. This South Americanfare is incredibly sexy and so different than what everyone else is doing, you’ll find yourself craving it more than anything else.
At the Stove: Patrick Fraser (Indie Ale House, Goods & Provisions, Salt Wine Bar), Felipe Faccioli (Salt Wine Bar, Fishbar) and Tulio Lessa (Note Bene)
FOH: Steve Fernandes and Sharath Dwarkanathan (Salt Wine Bar, Fishbar)
Head Honchos: All five guys: Tulio, Felipe, Steve, Patrick and Sharath
KitchenHours: Tue- Thu: 5:00pm - 10:00pm
Fri & Sat: 5:00pm - 11:00pm
Sun: 5:00pm - 10:00pm
Brunch Hours: Sat & Sun - 11:00am - 3:00pm
Map It: 1690 Queen St West (near Roncesvalles)
Phone It In: (647) 691-0234
Check out the photos on our Facebook page.