Churrasqueira Martins isn't "Martin's," it's owned and operated by Carlos Martins. It can be easy to miss hidden behind the giant Value Village near Rogers and Old Weston. They serve classic Portuguese dishes, most incorporating the fundamental element of the grill, in a gigantic setting that accommodates different dining styles.
Martins has a tripartite nature: one section is the takeout counter where people quickly line up and order counter style, one section is a casual seating area for those who just want a quick meal but don't need to speed away immediately, and finally the huge fine dining where old ladies have lunch together, businessmen drink scotch and families enjoy huge meals.
The takeout counter and casual seating area are relatively small and not obviously connected, so I hope you'd be able to meet someone here without too much trouble. There's also a patio outside, so if it's warm maybe just meet out there.
The fine dining room is impressive for indoor dining, though, with high ceilings, tons of tables, and a fancy wine wall.
They have over sixty wines here, mostly Portuguese, because they're good quality for value. Apparently they sell hundreds of cases of the house wine, which is actually really good, and goes for a reasonable $27 for a bottle or $6 for a glass.
They import fish twice a week from Portugal, displaying it in this case in the fine dining area.
We get some bread and olives as soon as we sit down, which is a nice touch along with aerating the wine in a decanter. These touches help transport diners away from the industrial parking lot setting.
Try some of the specials on the first page, like this grilled sea bass and shrimp risotto ($22.50). It's garnished with some greens and there are pickled veggies on the side. The fish is moist, with olive oil and special Martins seasoning, and considering this is a Portuguese restaurant the risotto is really good. It's simple, with pepper, onion, and garlic, with little shrimps swimming in it.
For a showstopper, do the surf and turf ($25), but the one on the specials page if it's there: that's Martins' own creation. A clay casserole cradles grilled lamb chops, veal, steak, squid, and lobster all on top of veg and potatoes with some pickled carrot and onion. The veggies are actually awesome, and the veal and lobster especially are yummy prime ingredients.
Though it might be hard to get to for many in the city, the residents of the Rogers Road neighbourhood are probably really glad it's here. When there's not much around, sometimes you need three restaurants in one.
Photos by Jesse Milns