It's not easy to get seafood right. Either the freshness is compromised or the seasoning doesn't work or it's overcooked or undercooked. But the coastal Portuguese know their seafood, and while some may not always get it right, Leao D'ouro hasn't missed with me so far.
The restaurant is warm and inviting. The staff is friendly. The food is delicious. I will personally go out on a limb here and say that Leao D'ouro rivals the very critically favoured Chiado just down the street on College Street. While Leao D'ouro is not inexpensive, it's not as pricey as Chiado, either.
I go to Leao D'ouro hoping that their unforgettable cataplana is available as a special. Nope. Waa. I suggest enthusiastically that it should be added as a permanent item. When it is available, their cataplana is overflowing with fresh fish and shellfish flavoured with full-bodied tomatoes and herbs. But not on this day. No cataplana, but they do have "a very nice" halibut served on a bed of risotto as a special.
Is it me or do almost all servers describe specials and specialty dishes as "very nice"? In this case, however, the server understates it: the dish is very fantastic.
But I get ahead of myself. The three of us start off by sharing the grilled calamari appetizer. It's not the best I've had, but it is grilled well. Not too chewy, nor too tough, but it is a touch under-seasoned. Nothing a little dash of salt doesn't take care of. Or maybe it's just me with this issue because the calamari disappears off the plate in mere moments.
Leao D'ouro has great non-seafood dishes, but all of us decide on seafood. One grilled salmon and two halibuts. The salmon dish is beautiful- literally. It's as though a food stylist has put it together. Accompanied by tender grilled vegetables, chick peas and red cabbage, the salmon is grilled to perfection and tastes even better than it looks.
The halibut may not be so pretty, but it sure got it right in the favour department. The bolder, but not overpowering, tomato risotto lends itself perfectly to the milder flavoured and very generous portion of halibut - again, grilled perfectly. As I said before, very fantastic.
The portions are HUGE. My appetite is pretty healthy, but I think I can forego the appetizer and eating too much from the bread basket might be something to reconsider, too.
To top off the meal, I satisfy my sweet tooth with a pudim flan. I liken it to be a lighter, not-as-sweet tiramisu, minus the lady fingers. I guess a bit of a cross between a tiramisu and a zabaglione. Anyway I try to describe it, it is a must-have.
Leao D'ouro serves up food worthy of cravings. Oh how you allude me, wonderous cataplana...
356 College St.