July 14, 2012 Comments (3) Views: 4933 Montreal Diary

Pintxo at Pintxo

The unassuming exterior of Pintxo

After much discussion over the course of three years we here at Good Food Revolution HQ decided that we needed to expand our coverage to include one of our favourite cities, Montreal.

A opportunity came up after my girlfriend made the decision to rent a huge loft space in Le Plateau for the month of July for a sabbatical of sorts, and then invited me to stay with her if I could spare the time. I jumped at the opportunity to cover the city’s food and drink scene, perhaps meet some new writers for our site, and enjoy a couple of weeks of the summer in Montreal.

I’ll be reporting on a regular basis with pictures, video, and text of what I discover here, so any suggestions would be warmly welcomed (see below).

Upon my first afternoon here I was contacted via Facebook by a Toronto foodblogger I have known for quite some time, the lovely Jennifer Chan (@foodpr0n)from foodpr0n.com. She was kind enough to invite us out for dinner at the much lauded Spanish restaurant Pintxo, at 256 Roy East, west of St. Denis.

I had read much of their extensive small-plates menu (39 different pintxo to choose from) and was eager to sit down and try some. After a lazy, meandering walk through the sweltering streets, marvelling at the architecture, sniggering at the 90’s surf fashion that appears to have endured for over a decade in these parts, and gazing wistfully at fountains in parks, we found ourselves at Pintxo. And just in case you were not aware, pintxo is the Basque term for tapas.

We found the two rooms inviting and intimate, and all of staff extremely friendly and informed, the perfect combination. Jennifer arrived with another foodblogger friend from the past, the ever-buoyant Vanessa (@tongueandcheek) from tongueandcheek.ca. This was an excellent surprise as I have always enjoyed her restaurant commentary.

They had another friend Evelyn in tow, who I honestly felt a little sorry for as she could rarely get a word in edgeways over the course of the evening… Jennifer, Vanessa, and I really do like to talk, especially about food. They also don’t mind sharing their food, something that I always enjoy, particularly in a restaurant with a menu like this… although splitting some of the dishes into five equal-ish portions proved to be a little tricky at times!

My personal favourites of the pintxo and the large plates were the serrano stuffed fig, the marinated sardine filet with avocado and peppers, and my stupendously large (and rather spicy) Spanish cassoulet… there was more than enough of that to take home and have as a light lunch for two the following day.

Overall I adored the concept and the many dishes we shared. I wasn’t too fond of the shrimp and crab stuffed piquillo pepper (was tasting a little fishy and tired, not nearly vibrant enough). The Venison was also terribly overcooked, and came with exactly the same presentation as the lamb saddle.

We had a splendid evening as you can see from the pictures below. I chose to eschew wine upon this particular evening, but upon viewing the list it looked like a well thought out list of interesting Spanish bottlings. I chose to drink gallons of the Saint-Justine Quebec sparkling water (utterly delicious with just the right carbonation and minerality for my palate) and then headed into a couple of MTL Premium lagers and a Cheval Blanc wheat beer to finish off.

Despite reading a few critiques that said otherwise, I felt that overall the pricing was extremely fair and well worth the money. Two of us chose the tasting/degustation menu, consisting of four pintxo of the Chef’s choosing followed by one’s own choice of one of the larger plates (a selection of ten), all for $36… with a supplemental charge for the enormous lamb rack or rib eye steak.

A fantastic start to my Montreal culinary adventures…

  • The unassuming exterior of the Pintxo
  • Hours of opening
  • Waiting at the bar
  • What a great surprise... some old friends from Toronto
  • MTL Premium beer and Saint-Justin sparkling from Quebec
  • Foie gras torchon with onion confit, Smoked duck tartar, Strawberry and sweet bell pepper gazpacho as part of the tasting menu
  • Falsa lasaña de sardinas / Fresh marinated sardine filet with avocado and peppers $5
  • Carpaccio de pulpo con vinagreta de cava / Poached octopus carpaccio with cava vinegar $7
  • Piquillo relleno de cangrejo y camarones / Crab and shrimp stuffed piquillo with a shellfish sauce $8
  • Alcatxofas con almejas y jamón serrano / Artichokes with clams and serrano ham $6
  • Higo relleno de jamón serrano y queso mahon / Stuffed fig with serrano ham and mahon cheese $6
  • Vieiras con su txapela / Seared scallop with chorizo tapenade $7
  • Filete de res con queso de cabra gratinado / Filet mignon, roasted asparagus and goats cheese $28
  • Fabada a la asturiana / Cassoulet of White bean, chorizo, black pudding and duck leg confit $26
  • Pintxo de carrillera en salsa de Rioja / Beef cheeks with old style mustard mash $6
  • A yes... the stereotype holds so true!
  • Medallón de ciervo al chilindron / Venison medallion, butternut squash puree and truffle salt $10
  • Espaldilla de cordero / Saddle of lamb $12
  • Codorniz a la castellana / Half quail on a bed of pasta with smoked ham and pine nuts $7
  • Foie gras a la plancha / Seared foie gras on a bed of lentils with a reduction sherry vinegar $9

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Any suggestions of restaurants, bars, stores, bakeries, cheesemongers, artisanal food producers, breweries, places to picnic, people to interview etc. would be most appreciated.

Also, if you know of anyone who is passionate about the food/drink scene in Montreal and you feel they would be interested in perhaps contributing to our non profit website please do have them contact me: jamie@goodfoodmedia.com


Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… Ahhhhh… Montreal.

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3 Responses to Pintxo at Pintxo

  1. Jen says:

    Jamie!! It was awesome eating with you too! Wanted to share an awesome place in Atwater Market we found today for Sing food: Satay Brothers http://instagr.am/p/NEjRciC66P/ https://www.facebook.com/pages/Satay-Brothers/201906703159982

    Loved the peanut sauce from the satay and the sambal in the Laksa (get it hot if you can take it). Pretty damn good.

  2. Val says:

    Pintxo is one of my favourite Montreal spots. It is totally solid and very under-talked about. Glad you made it your starting point.

  3. Jen says:

    Jamie! I finally posted my photos. I also stole all of your descriptors (and bless you for having them, because I sure as heck wouldn’t remember now) for the flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlunar/sets/72157632720054585/

    If you hate me for it, lmk and I will remove them!

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