Have you been for lunch at Port O Call lately?
When the week is rough and the days are long, sometimes it's nice to break up the monotony of those things we call "real jobs" with a real lunch break. You know, the kind where you sit down and order from a menu. Port O Call hasn't been a frequent lunch stop (it's a bit pricier than our typical quick stops, and therefore a bit more of a treat), so we headed in on a recent sunny Friday to see what was on offer for the lunch crowd.
The hunger pangs were out in full force, so we went with starters and main courses, kicking things off with this Halloumi & Tomato Salad. Halloumi is a cheese from Cyprus that is best known for its salty flavor (kinda like feta) and for the fact that it can be fried or grilled without melting and losing its shape. If you want to try it for yourself, it has been spotted at Supermart and Miles (just slice, heat a pan with olive oil, pan fry until golden brown and then drizzle with lemon juice!), OR you could just let Port O Call prepare it for you. This salad was perfect. Salty, crispy halloumi resting on top of a bed of arugula and a mixture of tomatoes, and drizzled with olive oil - almost like an updated caprese salad, with halloumi taking the place of the typical mozzarella. If you don't see it on the online menu, don't worry - looks like the menu in the restaurant has changed but not yet updated on the website.
Another winner on the appetiser menu (also on the menu but not yet online) was this tuna tartare. A tower of fresh raw tuna mixed with red onion and creamy avocado, and served with cucumber and arugula. If you're a fan of tuna tartare, put this one on your list to try. As usual, Port O Call's attention to fresh ingredients lets the flavours shine through and the portion was generous but not so big that we weren't still looking forward to our main course.
These little guys were a special on the day we went but definitely deserve a mention. Crispy, panko-crusted shrimp with spicy red pepper aioli, mango and arugula. Yes, arugula has been present on every plate so far...so it's a good thing we're fans of this tangy green. These shrimp were huge (the photo doesn't do them justice - they were at least three bites each), and the perfect light main course.
Port O Call does an incredible plate of Fish and Chips. Beer-battered and served with their infamous skinny fries and a pea purée (which sounds strange but trust us, it works), the fish was light and flaky, perfectly seasoned and again, generously portioned. The secret is the beer in the batter, which lets the fish stay moist while creating an extremely light and crispy crust. What more can we say? Sometimes you just feel like an indulgence, and this is the ideal candidate.
Another main course was this beautiful Guinea Chick special, because 'tis the season. And we LOVE the season. Guinea Chicks may not be familiar to everyone. They're found in warm Atlantic waters (we have those), and are similar to spiny lobsters but smaller (about half the size). Done in a traditional 'thermidor' style, with a generous squeeze of lemon, this plate was Bermudian food at its best.
One might think that after that feast, there would be no room left for dessert. But one would be wrong. We always have room for a slice of Port O Call's infamous Baked Vanilla Bean Cheesecake. This is the lightest, fluffiest cheesecake we have ever had, with a traditional graham crust and a healthy dose of rich vanilla flavour. It can also be found at Bistro J and Pearl (all three restaurants share the same kitchen and the cheesecake is too good for one restaurant to keep to itself). With a squiggle (technical term) of berry purée underneath, this dessert is truly to die for.
Port O Call is definitely a fancier lunch than we'd typically have (3 of us spent $40 each for two courses and a glass of wine apiece), but the quality of the food and the atmosphere of this Front Street favourite make it well worth it for a treat day, a celebration or to commemorate the end of a long week.
Port O Call
87 Front Street
Hamilton HM 11
Tel: (441) 295 5373
Fax: (441) 292 7074
or email@example.com or Facebook page: Port O Call
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