Salt. Sea salt, rock salt, coarse salt and kosher salt. I first learned how rock salt could enhance the flavors of food when I was introduced to Brazilian barbecue, particularly (top sirloin). The meat is cooked and served with large grains of salt sprinkled all over. This really opens up the flavors like sparkles in my mouth. At Douro, both my appetizer and entrée made terrific use of coarse salt and really got me excited about the meal.
Douro, presumably named after the river famous for delivering Porto wine to the city of Porto in nothern Portugal from where the fortified wine is exported to the rest of the world, is a nice little spot on West Putnam Avenue in Greenwich. It's the kind of street you'd expect in Greenwich, almost completely free of litter with nice looking store front for blocks. On one of the prettiest and welcoming facades belongs to Douro.
Inside, there's an ample and attractive bar on the right, and on the left, separated by a large theatre skrim, is the nicely decorated dining room. The tables are set comfortably apart from each other and there's lots of naturally ambient light coming in through the large paned windows up front. A generations of divas played in the background—from Amalia Rodrigues to Cesaria Evora to Adele. Seating there looking through the menu, I was aware that I was already pretty happy to be there.
camarão e chouriço
In the New York-New Jersey area, the chouriço you're most likely to find very closely resembles the chouriço you find on mainland Portugal, which has a strong smoky and rustic flavor. In contrast, the chouriço you're more likely to come across in the Portuguese communities of southern New England, from folks who generally have roots in the Azores, is much milder flavor and smokiness. My Camarão and Chouriço appetizer had the latter. I think you could almost remain "Shrimp, Chouriço and Salt"—not because there was so much salt, but that it played such a strong supporting role. The dish, a perfect size for a starter come nice and hot to the table glistening with piece of coarse salt over it. And upon biting into either the shrimp or the chouriço, you'll immediately notice the brightness of the flavors enhanced by the salt. The shrimp was plump and snappy—nice. The chouriço was smoky, a little spicy and, frankly, delicious, though I thought it could have been grilled a little more. Adding to the dish was a mild garlic flavor without any visible pieces of garlic, a little wine and cilantro.
The grilled chicken arrived looking great. I was happy to see it on the bone. Like the shrimp and chouriço, this dish also was sprinkled at the last minute with coarse salt. Accompanied by some grilled zucchini, which was a little crunchier than I prefer and some unremarkable rice. The raison d'être of this dish is the piri piri (hot pepper). This hot sauce, base on piri piri peppers common in Portuguese cuisine, is a water-and-vinegar-based sauce. Normally, you would sprinkle some of it on your food, but Douro encourages you to treat more as a dipping sauce. It was really good—spicy, acidic and sweet, but not syrupy. I actually prefer the oil-based version, which is extremely hot, but also much more flavorful. With the sauce, the grilled chicken was terrific with just enough char flavor.
Flourless Chocolate Cake
I wanted to try the Pipocas (popcorn), but it wasn't available, so I had one of my all time favorites, flourless chocolate cake. No surprises here, just a nice rich and dense chocolate cake with a sweet and tangy raspberry sauce. Mmmm.
28 West Putnam Avenue
Greenwich CT 06830