A good BYOW is a hard thing to find and certainly something you cherish once you find one. Especially in Montreal where outside of a few well-known ones, it is a somewhat barren wasteland – mostly in terms of the quality of the meal itself. It is nice to save on the alcohol cost but if the meal is not up to standards, I would rather pay the premium elsewhere. After a long weekend course, I was invited to a dinner with my family at a portuguese BYOW near the Atwater market that I had never noticed before, Bitoque.
From a visual point of view, the space is nice and functional. Thankfully Bitoque stays away from the kitschy look can see in some “traditional” Portuguese restaurants. Cream-colored walls with nice artwork all around the room, banquets, wooden chairs and honest-to-goodness white tablecloths. On a busy Saturday as it was, the room was rather noisy but not overbearing. My one issues was that the tables were rather close together so when the room is fully occupied as it was, there really isn’t much room to move or even sit slightly away from your table.
Bitoque offers both a standard “a la carte” menu as well as a tapas menu. For this particular evening, we stuck to the tapas offering. First up, pastéis de bacalhau – fresh cod croquettes on wakame salad and cilantro aïoli. I could leave the salad underneath but the cod croquettes had the right exterior crunch to pair with the flaky fish inside. The aioli brought some nice freshness and creaminess to the dish as well. Not the best I’ve ever had but a solid starting point.
Next up, we had the chouriço grelhado – grilled chorizo on coleslaw. The coleslaw here was rich and cool which was very important because dear god, their chorizo was hot! Hot in the spicy sense of course…. note that I am a bit of a wuss in terms of spiciness so the rest of you may laugh at me here when you order this dish. Given my previous experiences with chorizo, I wasn’t expected that so the coleslaw helped soften the blow so to speak. Regardless, the chorizo was nicely grilled up and very flavourful.
Our third dish was lulas grelhadas – grilled calamari with lemon vinaigrette. As one would expect from a solid Portuguese restaurant, the calamari was nicely fresh and perfectly grilled. The unique touch here was that lemon vinaigrette – creamy and acidic, it was a nice change to the usual squeeze of lemon we usually do. Note that there was still a wedge of lemon present if you wanted to but frankly that would have made the dish too lemony and not really enjoyable.
The special of the night was a portuguese poutine. Funny how I have had two Portuguese plays of poutine in such a short time apart! This one was quite good if not as rich as the previous one I’d had at Taverne F. A nice mix of flaky cod, cheese and crispy matchstick fries.
Finally, to finish off the meal, we went with a staple and a family favourite – the pasteis de Nata. Served with some cinnamon, this lovely little egg tarts were the perfect end as they always are! At this rate, I should just learn to make them… I would save me some money although likely hurt the waistline somewhat!
All in all, Bitoque was a solid tapas experience from beginning to end. While perhaps nothing really stood out, the quality was consistent across every dish and we left our table stuffed food wise and having gotten to enjoy a few excellent bottles of wine without gasping at the bill at the end of the night. I would call that a win-win. Bitoque, you have officially entered my rotation of BYOWs.
3706 Notre Dame Ouest
514 303 6402