For 15 years Les Pyrénées in Old Montreal has been serving up a modern Montreal take on Catalonian cuisine. To celebrate this very special anniversary, they invited us to experience the restaurant for ourselves. Here’s a few thoughts.
While the experience was very positive overall, I think it was the service that impressed me the most. I’ve sat in all sorts of restaurants in this city, all with varying degrees of attention to detail, no matter their star rating. Les Pyrénées has one of the most dedicated wait staff I’ve ever seen. They didn’t miss a beat at our table and as I watched them serve other tables around the room, I saw that that attention was boundless, regardless the situation. I noticed that they even took turns standing out on the restaurant’s front step, causally chatting with people passing by. Very often their charming tactics worked and about 45 minutes into our meal, the restaurant was almost full. They are friendly, engaging and professional and that deserves a paragraph all to its self.
With the service being as impressive as it was, my expectations regarding the food grew exponentially and I wasn’t disappointed. A week or so earlier, at a media event held for the anniversary, the restaurant served a pre-planned four-course meal and we were treated to the same experience. We began with a cup of refreshing watermelon based gazpacho and a crispy cod accra that struck a perfect balance between fresh and salty. Some accras (fish cakes) lean too heavily on the salty side making this particular bite all the more interesting.
We continued our meal with a shared seafood paella. Montreal is no stranger to paella in fact, during the summer season when we spill out onto Saint-Laurent Boulevard for the street festival, the scent of seafood wafts up and down the street for blocks. Paella made in massive quantities can have a dry texture and an overly blended taste but not the one served at Les Pyrénées. It’s a smaller format for two, the rice is cooked to perfection, the veggies are expertly grilled and the seafood is fresh (this one contained mussels, clams, squid, shrimp and more).
For the main course we were served tender beef cheeks and lamb. Both pieces of meat were cooked slowly over time and fell apart at the touch of our forks. Served on a thin layer of mashed potatoes, the portions were sized perfectly, the accompanying vegetables and sauce were also doled out so not to over stuff us, capping the meal off wonderfully.
When the time came for dessert we were served a light strawberries and cream with pink peppercorns along with an orange cake served with fruit and a warm dark chocolate sauce.
After 15 years in Montreal, Les Pyrénées deserves their place in our busy food scene because of the wonderful service and great food they serve. It should be no secret that when you put your customers first like this restaurant does, longevity is almost guaranteed. The décor, while welcoming and bright, could use a little update but at the end of the day, no matter the setting, this experience sits at the top of my list, one of my favourite new experiences in a long time.
Image credit: David Major-Lapierre