Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Les Pyrénées - Souvenirs from Catalan

Every friday of my summer, after i finish working, I have around 5 hours to wander around downtown and find something to do before my salsa classes! It is this dangerous block of 5 hours that may critical for my wallet since I can easily end in a shopping spree! So to be safe this time, I will only stay at one place! A restaurant! I'll have loads of pleasure, I'll take my time, it will be perfect!!!
So, I invited one of my coworkers which is extremely curious and always open for new flavors! On the search of the unknown, we strolled along streets in the old port where many great restaurants of the city are hidden. We felt for something new, fresh and light! And there it was! Cute little place with an attractive menu filled with fish, seafood and some incomprehensible
names of plates.

We were greeted warmly as we entered this place. The walls on
one side are covered with spanish plates and pictures of the owner
and his friends decorated the other wall. Spanish music delightfully
set the ambiance for a perfect dinner. The menus were nicely designed on colorful maps of the Catalan.

We first start with a bottle of wine, recommended wisely by our waitress, the Penedes Santes Coronas, a red wine that has quite a punch at the beginning but then melts nicely with the meal. I started off with an olive tapenade
as entree.

The presentation of the platter was decent, a little bit of roasted red bell peppers to contrast the black olives... and a very very thin waffle to garnish my dish. Now, when I think tapenade, I think of it spreaded on a piece of crispy toast or a nice cracker. But nope! Just a miserable waffle! So I try to eat it alone at first. It was quite pleasant as a matter of fact. Very mild and a nice pronounced taste of black olives. But it definitely
needed something to go with!

My friend ordered the plate of tapas which
includes curry pork, a feuilleté of squash and potatoes, tuna rillettes and veal livers in a white wine sauce. The curry pork resembles more of a
piece of ham and it was literally swimming in a pool of fat. Ew. The tuna rillettes were tasting sadly like a can of tuna mixed with mayonnaise on a
piece of french baguette. Quite deceiving for a restaurant renowned for its
seafood. The veal livers were quite satisfying although very greasy too. Finally, we loved the taste of the squash wrapped in crispy filo sheets but, unfortunately, it was a tad cold.

The service was impeccable I must say. The delay between the plates were very reasonable and the waitress was attentive to our needs. She knew very well the dishes and was honest about her likes and dislikes of some.

As our main dishes arrived, the aroma of the fish and the spices just filled
the place. I ordered a filet of grouper with an aïoli sauce of mushrooms. The fish was pan fried and then covered with a good spoonful of sauce and there returned to the oven. The spice in the sauce, that I believed was cumin, was wonderfully paired with this white fish. The mushroom pieces
were too small for me to notice it. They garnished the plate with a side of
roasted tomato, some beans and... mashed potatoes. But what were they thinking with the mashed potatoes?!? It was all flaky and I do suspect it comes from dehydrated potatoes! Why oh why would a restaurant serve dehydrated potatoes? Isn't it more expensive than just plain regular potatoes? It kind of threw me off a bit when I dug into it.

The cod au gratin was also a flop. Way too much sauce and too much butter in the sauce. It covered entirely the sweet taste of the fish. The fish texture was nice and firm though. And the same potatoes were served on her dish too... ouf!

We were still hopeful for the dessert. I went for simple. It should not be too hard to miss that. A orange and peach cake. That's all. Simple, light and fruity. Indeed, it did fulfill
my expectations on that, a light and fluffy vanilla cake with generous chunks of orange and peaches. Very refreshing! But! They did not take off the membrane of the oranges making some of my bites quite chewy and unpleasant. My friend's creme caramel was described to be flavored
with anis. Not a hint! Nada! Niet! and the dessert was too cooked creating those unwanted air bubbles. In their defense, the presentation of both plates were very nice with nice Quebec strawberries.

In a nutshell, I absolutely loved the atmosphere and the staff. All very friendly and willing to give you the best dinner they can! But the food needs more work. I'll give it a second chance as the menu still offers a very vast array of interesting dishes!

Les Pyrenees on Urbanspoon

Les Pyrénées
320 St-Paul W
Old Montreal
(514) 842-5566

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