256 Rue Roy East (corner Laval)
Telephone :(514) 844-0222
Chef Hats : 3.5
I have been on hiatus the last few months working a lot and doing everything else. Now that the warm weather is back and my pockets run deeper; I have been going out to a few new places and some older ones in town that I have been meaning to try for a while, as usual, but never get around to doing so because of lack of money and time constraints. I am eagerly anticipating some new restaurant openings this summer and can’t wait to bring them to you and also want to share my adventures I have been having in Vermont the last couple of months.
Today in memoriam and maybe a little too late but not forgotten was this little place called Pinxto on Roy Street. It burned down last month on April 13th. This spring can be categorized as the demise of some of the older restaurants in Montreal. Damas also burned down but is coming back in another location on Van Horne soon; Thai Grill had extension water damage and closed down after many years in business. I have hopes that Pinxto will return as quickly as Damas will be.
Pinxto was a real neighborhood gem and it will be sorely missed by all entailed. It was not just another tapas place like many others in Montreal. Pinxto was special because of the man behind the kitchen Alonzo Ortiz. Having worked and studied in the Basque country of Spain, Ortiz’s influence came from the Michelin-three-star chef Juan Mari Arzak, the man often credited with rejuvenating Spanish cuisine.
His cuisine was always fresh and innovative, but with a sense of homemade care. Simple, yet complex but totally original in concept.
Opened in 2005 in the heart of the Plateau, Pintxo is a Spanish Basque restaurant, which served small-portion plate like tapas as well as Basque cuisine. “Pintxos” are the Basque’s incarnation of tapas, ‘’a small bite, typically eaten in bars while hanging out with friends and family, a tradition in northern Spain and especially popular in the Basque country and Navarre, ; having a strong socializing component, and regarded as a cornerstone of local culture and society. They are related to tapas, but the main difference being that pinchos are usually ‘spiked’ with a skewer or toothpick, often to a piece of bread’’
Meaning to try Pinxto for a while now, we headed there by the hand of god, because it was really not in the cards to go out this week . I kinda booked it on the spur of the moment because I had been hibernating for too long and was tired of cooking. The parking situation in Montreal always stresses me out, because we can be riding around for hours just looking for a place to park miles away. Le Plateau is one of those places where parking is sparse and I don’t do the bus and walk thing. Been there done that… but we were lucky this evening as we found parking right in front of the restaurant across the street in an area where it is almost impossible to find parking close by. At 5:30 the place was already full with people sitting at the bar and couples of all ages scattered here and there.
Pintxo has two dining area, a spacious room off on the side where we were seated, with its large artsy multi colored Picasso like paintings against the backdrop of exposed brick walls, white tablecloths topped with votive candles. The menu offers about 40 pintxos, and nine main courses. There’s also a $38 tasting menu that consists of four pintxos and a main course, is what I’d call a major deal.
Our waitress was pleasant on the onset and service was fast, we started our evening with a glass of Vino Tinto, a 2013 Vegas Montan Bottegas Adria a private house import at $ 27.00 a bottle or $ 11.00 by the glass. I always like private imports; it gives you a chance to try something different and that not easily available, especially at the SAQ. I really liked and enjoyed this wine, it hit the right notes. Full bodied, but light. It was the perfect accompaniment with the duck breast that Frenchie ordered.
I decided I was going to eat light tonight and started with the mixed salad. A large plate of greens with light olive oil and vinegar which was basic, but well seasoned, to open up the appetite. I opted out for the pintxos tonight because I really did not want to eat too much. So I chose a main meal of Black Cod with Tomato Virgin Sauce. Which consisted of raw sweet small cherry tomatoes salsa cruda with a stream of Balsamic Vinegar reduction served on creamed mashed potato pieces. Very fresh and light. Nothing too complex for the palate, the cod was perfectly cooked inside but the skin was crispy, well seasoned and very tasty. The potatoes contained small pieces of scalloped yellow potatoes, creamed but not fully mashed. Which I found lighter than the generic heavy mashed potatoes and different between the palates. Perfectly complimenting the codfish.
Frenchie ordered the Duck Breast on a Saffron risotto. The duck breast sat atop a bed of thick creamy saffron risotto which sat on top of a Sweet sherry wine or port emulsion. A generous portion of sliced duck breast perfectly cooked , not overly fat .The risotto was to die for and combined it was heavenly.
For dessert two espresso’s and a slice of Santiago Almond Cake to be shared. This came topped with slivers of almond and sweet caramel sauce. Almond cake was light with the perfect essence of almonds.
Pinxto was a sweet deal and will be missed by many.