Even the name of this little food store, bakery and eatery, "Viena Do Castelo," sounds foreign, romantic and delicious to me.
I would guess the name was selected in tribute to a community in northern Portugal and my pre-visit research indicated that they are the purveyors of Portuguese specialty foods. My husband and I have long dreamed of visiting the Mediterranean country, especially the Azores.
When I arrived to pick up our preordered chicken, a gorgeous vista of the Azores adorned the wall behind the checkout counter. That part of the country is the home to one half of the married Esteves team that own and operate the store and restaurant.
The whole roasted chicken and potatoes I ordered for takeout tasted just as if I had pulled it out of my own oven (without having to scrub a baked-on roasting pan — yippee). Although the chicken was on the small side (for the price), the meat was firm and moist. When I had called about picking up our supper, owner Luis cheerfully said: "We roast our chickens to order so I’ll put one in the oven for you. Would you like it mild, medium or spicy?" We are "moderates" with our spice level (and just about everything else in our lives) and the seasoning balance was perfect. The spice mixture that permeated the flesh of the chicken also seasoned the potatoes that had surrounded the chicken in the roasting pan. My husband especially enjoyed the latter.
Also tempting were Viena Do Castelo’s cheese buns. They tasted to us as if parmesan and garlic had been rolled into the dough "cinnamon bun style" with a generous topping of more grated cheddar cheese on top. I would love to drop in for another half dozen of these for takeout or for a quick snack at one of the sunny tables right in the shop.
When I asked if the chicken was his Portuguese mama’s recipe, Luis replied: "No — it is something that my wife invented. She’s always dreaming up new recipes".
This husband and wife are definitely a committed business team. They even had what Luis dubbed a "store baby."
Their youngest son was born about three days after the store opened and subsequently was brought to the eatery on a daily basis until the time that he learned how to walk. Now that’s a family-run business! Luis adds that many store customers ask about him to this day. As Luis was running my tab up, I read the tattoo that graces the inside of his forearm, it simply stated: "Familia."
Viena Do Castelo,
Portuguese Food Store
105-819 Sargent Ave.,
in Sargent Park area of the West End
Light fare and catering menu available
Surface parking in front
Curb cut not found for wheelchair accessibility
Kathryne Grisim’s foodmusings.ca blog was named best local blog in Uptown Magazine’s Best of Winnipeg readers’ poll.