Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Portuguese fare helps fill void

  • Print

There just aren't enough Portuguese restaurants for me, but Viena do Castello does a little to help fill the void. It's primarily a bright and modern bakery-cum-grocery store, with no fresh produce, but a large selection of Portuguese canned goods, packages, cheeses and frozen fish, as well as olive oil and cured meats. Although its prepared specialties are primarily for takeout, it does have four tables for two along the windows that overlook Sargent, where it is possible to have a sandwich, and/or a pastry with coffee.

Whatever else you do you have be sure to include some of the delectable little egg-rich pastries. One of the luscious custard tarts in flaky pastry, for instance; or the intensely flavoured honey tarts, or the dense coconut tarts. There are light and slightly lemony slices of sponge cake, and wee madeleine-like cakes, also with a lemony undertone and wonderful with tea. Even the cinnamon buns are great, with the substantial texture I love, the kind you can sink your teeth into. Some pastries are sold individually (most $1.49); others come in packages of six (most $3.99)

Dining out

Viena do Castelo

  • 819 Sargent Ave., 415-4615

Island Flava

  • 542 Dufferin Ave., 415-5206

When it comes to rice pudding it's hard to beat the Portuguese, and this ultra-smooth, flavourful version, streaked with cinnamon, is marvellous. So, not surprisingly, is the flan in a clear, light caramel sauce. Also -- although they do carry breads and rolls from Lisbon Bakery -- their own single stab at breadmaking is a good white loaf.

You can have a bifana sandwich, a bun filled with wine-marinated pork cutlet with sautéed onions -- a little under-seasoned, but much tastier when splashed with a bit of hot sauce ($3). Buns are also stuffed with house-made chorizos, which do have a bite, and are also sold by the piece for takeout. Soup goes for $2.50, and changes daily -- a nice tomato-beef one day, on another day the more interesting caldo verde, a greenish puree of potatoes and kale.

On Saturdays there are a few cooked dishes as well. They vary from week to week, but I hope the terrific Portuguese-style ribs are a constant -- tasting of a wine marinade with plenty of garlic (price will depend on the number of bones bought -- my meal-sized portion was $5). I also tried a miniature fried mackerel, mainly out of duty -- all too often I've found mackerel too oily and strong tasting, but that Saturday's sweet-fleshed version converted me. Even eaten cold. Future Saturday specialties might include chorizos cooked with potatoes and, with any luck, salt codfish balls.

Service is charming and helpful.

-- -- --

Viena do Castelo owner Ana Godinho Esteves (left) and manager Beta Godinho with an array of baked goods.

Enlarge Image

Viena do Castelo owner Ana Godinho Esteves (left) and manager Beta Godinho with an array of baked goods. (MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) Photo Store

Try to send someone to a restaurant on Dufferin Avenue and they may look at you funny. But explain to them that it's a pretty quiet area, especially during the day, and maybe you can convince them to give Island Flava's savoury Jamaican specialties a try. There are just a few, but at prices that will make the neighbourhood look a lot better, with generous entrees from $9 to $15. And for those who are still leery, plans are to start delivery to much of the city any day now.

It's just one tiny room, with seating for 10 only, but it's cheerful and spotless, and clearly most of its business will be for takeout. Each specialty is featured on a certain day, and oxtails -- the Jamaican dish I love best -- is Wednesday's feature. I couldn't get there until Thursday, but the gods were smiling, and it was still available. I've never been disappointed by Jamaican oxtails, but this was one of the best -- meaty chunks in a dark brown gravy that was gelatinous and rich with marrow from the bones, not spicy but so full of flavour. Come to think of it, all those bones make for pretty sloppy eating, and you may be happier doing your chewing and slurping in privacy, at home.

The occasional lima bean turns up in the gravy, but there are more beans -- red ones (or peas, as they're called in Jamaica), which dot the savoury rice that comes with all the main courses. Also very good, but I can't say the same for the fried flour dumpling -- like a doughnut hole but far too heavy. The dish also came with a fair cole slaw, and a batch of bland stir-fried veggies.

An upcoming new menu will clarify which dishes appear on which days. I never did manage to connect with the chicken curry (Monday and Tuesday), but apparently the sauce is the same as Friday's meaty, and semi-incendiary goat curry. The jerk chicken drumsticks are always available, and they are moist and delicious under a slightly sweet, barely biting glaze, and (unlike some other jerks I've known) not stewy. There's not much else to try -- the DayGlo orange beef pattie tasted better than it looked, with a slightly nippy filling (two for $3.49), and on the new menu there will be rotis.

It seems to be a one-woman operation, which means the service might get bogged down at times. But she's a very nice woman, and if you're planning on takeout it's probably a good idea to phone ahead.

To see the location of Viena do Casteloas well as others reviewed in the Winnipeg Free Press, please see the map below. Island Flava does not currently appear below due to an error in Google maps -- this will be updated when the error has been fixed.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 28, 2011 D3


Updated on Friday, October 28, 2011 at 11:18 AM CDT: formats text, adds fact box, adds map

November 4, 2011 at 11:08 AM: updates map

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Winnipeg Police remove dumpsters from behind homeless shelter

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Goslings enjoy Fridays warm weather to soak up some sun and gobble some grass on Heckla Ave in Winnipeg Friday afternoon- See Bryksa’s 30 DAY goose challenge - May 18, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 101130-Winnipeg Free Press Columns of light reach skyward to the stars above Sanford Mb Tuesday night. The effect is produced by streetlights refracting through ice crystals suspended in the air on humid winter nights. Stand Up.....

View More Gallery Photos


Do you think zipper-merging will help clear up Winnipeg's traffic woes?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google