By Linda Benson
Spring is definitely in the air, and it’s a glorious time to walk through Barton Village. There is just so much happening right now, it’s going to be a challenge choosing what to showcase.
First of all, the covid certificate mandates were dropped, which enabled myself and a couple of friends to visit one of our “older” haunts. Of course I say this with tongue in cheek; they are not old, just well established and a staple in our area. It’s been a challenging time for everyone, business owners and customers alike, particularly our “Mom & Pop” variety business, which brings me to O Cantinho Churrasqueira & Café.
O’Cantinho is at 302 Barton Street, basically at the corner of Victoria Avenue, and across from Barton Medical.
I have not visited this restaurant since before the pandemic, and I was expecting huge changes to their menu, actually less options to be honest. However, consistency is the name of the game, and they did not disappoint. The menu remains the same to my surprise. All of us ordered the bbq chicken, which came with their famous Piri Piri Sauce. Jason, our server and son to the owner, mentioned that the chicken had just come off the grill. It was scrumptious on its own, more so after drizzling the sauce over (we tried to get the recipe for this delectable sauce, but Jason held firm on their secret ingredients). The plate came with the most amazing roasted potatoes, a mix of fresh vegetables (not frozen) and a salad. Honestly, I was digging right into my meal before I realized I had not taken a photo…..
O’Cantinho has been around for over 25 years, a real family operated restaurant. Mama does the cooking, and I am sure there must be a few aunties in the kitchen as well, although I did not ask. Three sons keep the front going, serving meals and attending to the bar. At our visit Jason was on his own, his attention to detail was impeccable. He was honest and forthcoming when we asked questions. There are no menus on the table or to be handed out, and on this particular occasion the chalk board remained empty. Yet Jason went through the menu, given explanations and advice as warranted. Their menu is quite extensive, given the size of the restaurant and the fact that everything is “home” made.
On my past visits, I had rabbit stew, a blast from my past, my Nana used to make this for us when I was a child living in post war England; a delicious fish stew that made my eyes water with sheer delight and an amazing shrimp platter. I can highly recommend any of these dishes.
I am so happy this little slice of heaven is still with us. I know they had their challenges, and it was extremely difficult for them as a family.
I can honestly say this is one of our Barton Village gems. They have been with us a long time now and hopefully they will give us many more years of their exceptional food.
Along with indoor dining, they offer take out, and catering. I believe they also have a delivery service.
You can find O’Cantinho on face book and via their website. https://ocantinhochurrasqueira.ca/
DAWSON’S HOT SAUCE
Now, for something quite different. You may have seen videos on you tube and local news channels, of a hot sauce taste test with famous people. Some of our most iconic actors and celebrities have joined in the fun, and have shared their honest opinions with us. The sauce?? Dawson’s Hot Sauce, located at 435 Barton St E.
I first came across Dawson’s a couple years ago, during one of our Barton Street Fests. I was invited into the store for a taste testing. What blew me away, were there many different varieties of hot sauce. There is a whole wall dedicated to these sauces.
Now, I am not a hot sauce connoisseur, and I have always had a fear of suffering through a burnt tongue. However, I must admit, I really enjoyed the few I tasted, not the ultra hot sauces, but the Cremini (Mushroom) and a chocolate & chili were my favorites.
You can contact their retail store and request a testing session, which I think is invaluable before buying their sauces, as there literally is a taste, and degree of heat, for just about everyone. You can also customize your orders and, you can even have your very own private label.
I am sure it’s safe to say a little piece of Barton Street has become world known, thanks to Dawson’s. I highly recommend a trip to their small retail outlet, which they share with a bicycle repair shop. Check their website first for their hours of operation. They will also deliver across Canada for you.
I would like to wish you a joyous and peaceful Easter.
I snapped this beautiful swan, at Bay Front Park, during one of the coldest days this year, and I instantly felt the peace emanating from it. I hope you enjoy the photo