http://valdezrestaurant.com/ 416.363.8388 mon-sat $$ 5pm-late
http://panamfoodfest.com/2014/ – August 8 to 10, 2014
The second annual Pan American Food Festival – the only festival in the world that celebrates the best food and culture of the Western Hemisphere – returns to Toronto, August 8 to 10, 2014 at Daniels Spectrum, a vibrant new cultural hub in the heart of downtown Toronto. This year’s festival features a roster of impressive chefs, fun food competitions and entertainment for the whole family. Valdez restaurant is central in these events, and after a short introduction to the games and Latin food menu, I had to come back to enjoy some of the menu from the kitchen.
Walking through the doors of this renovated space still stirs up good old memories of 606 and Cheval. Now this vibrantly decorated spot and reminds me of being down south. Just to the left of the entrance, a rich trail of aromatic smoked wood leads one up to a sunshine and rainbows rooftop patio. Love the beats and the sexy servers – there just when you need them.
House made root chips accompany, creamy, just-enough-zest guacamole and fresh mouthwatering salsa, however the $11 is little high. Arepa and huevo served softly fried with cracked pepper is slightly sweet and chewy. Drunken shrimp (3 pieces) must be balanced properly with the pineapple and smoked jalapeno salsa, otherwise its spicy as hell – BUT the heat does not linger.
Grilled swordfish adobo marinade with lime is spiced rightly, unfortunately the fish is a touch dry. Fatty Umami-rich beef short ribs with Chimichchurri are a favorite. Blackened grilled quail is super moist, caramelized tamarind and sweet chili is nice and the butterflied presentation is lovely.