2072 Drummond St.
(Between De Maisoinneuve.Sherbrooke St.)
Cost: $ 93.87- Discovery Menu -tax, tip and wine included)
Chef Hats: 4.5
Tangia is one of the best fine dining Moroccan restaurants in Montreal presently. It hits all the marks in term of food presentation, décor, and fine service. Located downtown on upper Drummond street in the basement of a charming 19th century building that once housed the popular Les Caprise de Nicolas up until 2006. For many of us, we remember this place when it was run by the late Nicolas Jongleux. To the younger generation, the spot housed circa 2007 the now defunct restaurant Ariel, a French classic bar à vin that seemed to have gotten mixed reviews.
In May 2017, the lovely spot was replaced by Tangia. It has kept its original stone walls and the sun filled atrium. Visible here and there are a few hints of décor that suggest a Bohemian Moroccan theme. The setting is considered more modern chic than old world with its dark wooden tables and chairs and splashes of modern art and plenty of pillows. The space is still narrow but warm and cozy, with aromas of spices and cinnamon filling the air. Its location is well hidden and makes dinning out very incognito and private. The weekend we dined here, the streets were filled with Formula One revelers, but we could only count about a dozen people in the resto on a Saturday at 6pm. Somehow the maddening crowd just seemed to bypass us, which was great, as we wanted a Zen and quiet evening away from the noise.
At Tangia, Chef and owner Dan Medalsy not only honors his grandmother’s cooking with traditional flavors from his past but brings us a taste of Morrocco, all while showcasing ad incorporating local products. Blending the two together, he creates truly inspiring presentations that are like works of art. The slate plates are his canvas, everything is beautifully plated and so flavorful. The menu is filled with all the traditional favorites like kebabs, couscous, tagines, and pastilla with hints of Moroccan sweetness via cinnamon, turmeric, sumac and cumin.
It was a while I had not had Moroccan food and with consensus of my fellow dining partners we decided to go with the Discovery menu at $ 59.00 and not $55.00 as listed on their website. This allowed us to sample a variety of their best dishes. I decided to start my meal with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon for $ 12.00. After my crazy week, I needed a good wine and this packed quite a punch. It paired well with the entrees of eggplant and braised beef.
It was a relatively glitch free evening except for this one incident when one of our dining colleagues ordered a tea at the onset of the meal. It was misunderstood by the waiter as meaning that we wanted our tea service at beginning of meal instead of at the end. After a little discussion we decided to keep the tea but found our waiter to be a little too rigid and not accommodating by offering or suggesting an extra charge for the one extra tea. Nonetheless, the mint tea was served in a beautiful silver carafe and was so soothing to the senses, a perfect appetite opener.
Our first course started with an appetizer for four, which consisted of bowls filled with red pepper walnut salad, a beet salad, eggplant with tahini and pomegranate, tchoutchouka which is a spread made with slow-cooked tomato and red peppers and a smear of hummus beautifully painted on a slate canvas, served with a basket of homemade bread and Mofletta triangles an unleavened Sephardic flatbread resembling pita bread.
I found all the appetizers to my liking, but we were all in agreement that the beet salad was kind of flavorless, too soft and lacked punch compared to the other dishes. Three out of four isn’t bad.
For the next service, we received two Pastilla’s each. Resembling Moroccan cigars more than the Spanish pie counterpart, these were round cylindrical rolls of deep fried brick sheets; a thin dough resembling a phyllo dough. Filled with ground meats, flavored with spices such as cinnamon, cloves and cumin. At Tangia, they came sprinkled with cinnamon icing sugar and scatters of nuts, chopped mint leaves, beautifully presented again on a slate plate for convivial partaking. They were deliciously sweet and would have also been perfect for dessert as well, even though they are meant to be eaten as appetizers.
For our main meal, we received a generous portion of super tender braised beef served on a wooden plank. It served four persons easily. It sat atop a carrot puree and came garnished with green peas, baby potato wedges and crispy sunchoke fries. Also served with the braised beef was a tagine of couscous garnished with cubed carrots, squash, onion puree and chick peas and broth on the side. Both were more than excellent and very satisfactory, an absolutely delicious combination.
For dessert, we received a selection of four sweets, a creamy pannacotta infused with cardamom topped with a pistachio crumble, a deconstructed chocolate type brownie dessert with hazelnuts, a lemon meringue tart and fig pomegranate pudding. Which were all as equally delicious and in which we devoured completely, even though we were pretty stuffed.
Our evening turned out to be a convivial; amicable meal with great food and great conversation about more food among friends. This is not the only reason for which I highly recommend Tangia, but for its ability to bring us something different and open the conversation to other dining adventures. With our choices in the endless arrays of French Bistros, trendy eateries and Asian food that permeate the Montreal landscape, this is a welcome rarity. The service is courteous and friendly aside the mishap with the tea service, it was all good. Tangia offers us the flavors of faraway lands, filled with hints of exotic flavors, and spices that exude hospitality.
Its time we break from convention and start traveling to far away lands in our own city. It is time to accept others, their food, their culture, not only to broaden our horizons but to walk a day in their shoes and experience other than what we accustomed too. Food culture is the place to start. The world would be a much better place.