The Peel Basin, located a stone’s throw from the Lachine Canal, has changed a lot over the last ten years. Once an area filled with empty lots and crumbling buildings, it is now home to high end boutiques, hotels, condos, cafes and restaurants that are leaving their unique mark on our vibrant foodie scene. One of these amazing new restaurants is DŌCA. Located on Wellington near Peel Street, DŌCA is a decadently decorated Mediterranean eatery where style is matched equally by substance.
DŌCA (meaning quite simply “docks” in Portuguese) is backed by some of Montreal’s highest wattage restaurant star power. Raj Patel, a seasoned entrepreneur who has dabbled in everything from home décor to real estate investments, is joined by Victor Batista and Victor Dias. With a combined 40 years experience in the restaurant industry they have been involved with some of Montreal’s highest profile restaurants including Cavalli, MKT, Café Ferriera and Da Emma. These guys know how to please people and DŌCA will benefit from that. François Laurin whose previous work includes Pizzeria Sofia, Hotel W and Bice leads the team in the kitchen.
Kiva Designs, an award winning corporate and retail design firm, is responsible for DŌCA’s truly unique décor. The space has been elegantly designed with decadent detailing throughout. The most impactful design factor is the use of purple in their plush chairs and other details. There isn’t another colour that can match how regal this makes a space feel. Striking architectural elements such as floor to ceiling wooden slats that help divide the space also helps make DŌCA’s décor one of the most unique I’ve seen in Montreal. Add to this a beautiful bar, an envy inducing wine cellar and a semi-private dining room; DŌCA has all the right moves when it comes pleasing the eye and the pallet.
In the kitchen, François and his team prepare a variety of Mediterranean inspired dishes on a daily basis. During our visit to the restaurant, the kitchen prepared a tasting menu to highlight some of their best work. From seafood to lamb and dessert, we were treated to five very different dishes. We started with light yet refreshing “crudo” tuna dish which was served with a yuzu and coriander vinaigrette, marinated honey armillary, tobiko and Andes salt. The vinaigrette dressed up the tuna perfectly with tangy flavour. The coriander was a wonderful addition. The second dish we tried was the grilled octopus. Served with a cauliflower mousseline, roasted pepper, chorizo, black olives and watercress. Though slightly overcooked the dish remained well rounded with the chorizo giving it a delightful kick.
The third course of the evening was a succulent grilled shrimp (pictured above) served with lobster spelt, white asparagus, a garlic and lemon confit, espelette and coriander. The shrimp was grilled to juicy perfection and one of the best dishes of the evening. Up next we were served a rack of lamb with a pear mustard crust, a parsnip puree, a red wine sauce, Brussels sprout leaves and roasted carrots. The meat was tender, cooked medium and had a light flavour. I’m not a fan of lamb but this was a quality rack of lamb that I would order again. The crust was full of flavour yet not overwhelming. The parsnip puree was on point.
For the last course of the evening we were served homemade donuts with chocolate and caramel dipping sauce, mi-cuit chocolate cake and vanilla gelato. The gooey chocolate cake was outstanding (I highly recommend this) and the donuts were an unconventional yet completely delicious dessert with their dipping sauces.
DŌCA has hit the ground running as one of Montreal’s most promising new restaurants of the year. As one of the first high-end restaurants in the Peel Basin, it is setting the standard for quality in its presentation and its quality of food. They have proven that you don’t have to choose style over substance; you can have both.
Photo credit: Patricia Brochu
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