Pintxo was one of the first restaurants we covered here on dayjobsnightlife.com. That was almost three years ago (you can read that article from January 2013 right here). A lot can happen in three years and for this very well known Plateau eatery, time wasn’t so kind. The restaurant’s original location burned down earlier this year leaving a gapping hole in Montreal’s restaurant scene.
A great restaurant like Pintxo closing due to such a horrible incident is truly sad because its gone before its time. In our currently climate, where so many restaurants are having a difficult time making ends meet, a building burning down could mean the absolute end of everything but not for Pinxto. Their story was never going to punctuated by fire. Like a phoenix rising out of the ashes, the restaurant is back in a small but much better location. We were invited to see how things have changed over the years. Here’s how the night went.
The new space is located steps away from the corner of St. Denis street and Mount Royal avenue. It is by far much smaller than the Roy location but that’s not a bad thing. The restaurant has a more intimate bistro feel than before and starting from scratch in a new, smaller location means taking what you really loved about the past and streamlining it into the present. The new location has much less clutter and feels more modern then before. They have done a wonderful job and retaining the heart of the restaurant that people loved.
In order to experience as much as possible we tried a chef-recommended tasting menu of several different pintxo-sized dishes. A pintxo is a slightly larger version of tapas so sharing is still made easy. We started with yellow beet and smoked salmon tartare with feta, torched foie gras with caramelized onions, tempura battered oysters and an octopus salad. Though the tartare could have used a little more salmon, it was still very flavourful and a great way to start off the meal. The foie gras was sprinkled with black volcanic salt and onions. The tempura oysters were fresh and perfectly fried and perfect for oyster lovers. I think my personal favourite of the first dishes was the octopus salad. I am very particular about the seafood that I eat and often I find octopus a little too much but this salad was truly outstanding.
We continued the meal with an excellent rack of pistachio encrusted dear, a flavourful halibut cheek, duck chops and ham and cheese stuffed fig. One of the most surprising dishes of the evening was the rack of dear. Crusting the meat with the sweet and salty nuts was an absolutely wonderful and inventive way to eat the meat. The halibut, like the octopus, was one of the standout dishes of the evening. Resting on a potato puree, the fish fell apart at the touch of the fork and the sauce was not over powering.
Much like my first experience at the restaurant, this follow-up exceeded my expectations. The service was on-point and the dishes came out at a perfectly timed pace. I’m glad that the owners didn’t throw in the towel when the previous location burned down. A story like that of Pintxo is proof that when you are preparing quality food for people who love your restaurant, they will follow you. If you rebuild it and are able to capture that magic that made it so special in the first place, they will come back.
For more on Pintxo, please visit their website.
Image credit: David Major-Lapierre