March 4, 2012 in Restaurants
Oh. My. God.
There are so many new incredible restaurants in Montreal – it’s actually hard to keep up. I love it. I do believe that the city’s nightlife scene could use the same kind of facelift…
Today, I’m raving about Pastaga – a new restaurant that opened just a couple months ago on St-Laurent Boulevard below Little Italy. Don’t be fooled – it’s not Italian. “Pastaga” is actually another name for Pastis, the French anise-flavored alcohol enjoyed as an apéritif. Accordingly, restaurant puts a modern twist on French-bistro cuisine and décor.
What’s the deal? Small plates (2-3/person for a full meal) and a focus on biodynamic wine (without headache-prompting tannins). A chill, unpretentious atmosphere. Delicious food delivered by fun waiters. A table in the kitchen that invites diners to watch “the game”, all while keeping the dinner crowd happy and unaware of the TV. And Twin Shadow as background music? Pastaga definitely wins when it comes to first impressions.
First, my friend and I tried the crispy yellow pike with pumpkin purée and rapini salad. Delightful. The fish was delicate, flaky, and cooked to the perfect point. The pumpkin purée and the rapini added some sweet-smooth and bitter-crunchy flavour and texture.
Next, we had the waffle with sautéed wild mushrooms, greens, and slivers of Parmesan. Again, yum! It’s nouveau – mother country gone new world, shall we say – and it works.
Our third dish was the bison – a mini steak atop pulled meat, shredded parsnips and a slightly BBQ’d-style sauce. Another hit. Especially the pulled bison. For me it was a first, and certainly not a last.
Finally, have you heard of their piglet belly lacquered with brown sugar placed atop a parsnip pancake? If not, be forewarned. This won’t stay a secret for long. It was insane! Divine. It melted in my mouth. And with that pancake? Whoa boy. Whoaaaaa boy.
Just in case Pastaga hadn’t wowed us enough already, the restaurant seriously “brought it” with dessert. Per the waiter’s suggestion, we ordered the little begnets (mini donut “balls”) filled with apple sauce accompanied by two oval “scoops” of vanilla ice-cream, little dollops of caramel cream, baked apple “chips”, pieces of sautéed apple and apple butter. Again, amazing. And a portion big enough for two.
Pastaga has been getting some well-deserved buzz lately, and you definitely want in on the action. Book ahead and don’t tell your friends. (Just kidding.)
Food 9.5/10, Atmosphere 9.5/10, Pretty people 9/10, Music (perfect volume) 9/10, Service 9.5/10.