Tapas: Spanish originated word for appetizers is now well known in North America. They can be served cold (frias) or warm (calientes). Even non-Spanish venues are adopting this way of serving many small plates to make a whole meal. I am a big fan of ordering many dishes and share so we all get a bigger sample of what’s on the menu and our palate never gets bored. Here are my favorite places to eat tapas in my city.
This place is remote from dowtown but it’s worth going the extra mile for a true Spanish tapas experience with chef Marie-Fleur St-Pierre. Everything is good but you must absolutely try the pork carpaccio, vine tomatoes and goat cheese and the veal flank. I am nuts about the datte mousse for dessert and the churros. The web site will put you in the mood with very appealing pics of every dishes and Spanish music. Reservation required, always busy.
This very charming place on the plateau neighborhood has been one of my top spots for years. The plates at Pinxto are a little smaller than usual tapas (pinxto meaning small bites) so you can order as much as 8-10 plates for a party of two. Cod Basque style is an absolute must as well as the chorizo sausages with black pudding. Wine list is exclusively Spanish and has some true gems. Reservation strongly recommended.
This new comer on the Plateau with the experienced owners of the Club Chasse & Pêche (my #1 over all in MTL) has nothing really Spanish but they went for an entire menu composed with small plates to satisfy the need for people to make the dining experience more interesting. They have a wonderful selection of wines by the glass and highly qualified staff to do perfect wine pairing. The word “filet” in French, has many meanings but here it’s more the fishing net it evokes. The menu has a lot of treasures from the sea with some from the ground as well. Sashimi style fluke, wagyu beef tataki, cavatelli with veal cheeks, pork belly with scallops and polenta are only a few of the highlights served there. Already too popular so you need to make reservation at least a week in advance for busy nights. (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday). There is a nice patio so you can sit outside in front of Jeanne-Mance park and a great bar.
(Full review of Le Filet on my French blog: http://bouffeviemtl.blogspot.com/2011/02/le-filet.html)
Pullman is a wonderful urban deco wine bar where they serve only small plates to match with your drinks. Very nice place to go for happy hour or late night craving. Wine list is chosen carefully and there are great choices by the glass, as there should be in a wine bar.
Finally, I will say that eating and drinking less but just better is possible when you have the right formula. That trend is far from being over and is making me really happy. I’ve tried to entertain at home making small plates but this is really big trouble when you don’t have helpers in the kitchen and it makes a big mess to clean up. It’s another reason why I enjoy it so much when going out. It’s a real treat to be able to sample so much food in one meal.