Pastaga

20 Nov

Over a year ago now, I visited Pastaga for a Sunday brunch and left with the strong feeling of needing to return for dinner. It took way too long but through Taste MTL, I finally did. For the uninitiated, Pastaga is the brainchild of chef Martin Juneau who, since opening this restaurant in 2012, has opened up Pub St-Joseph as well as the Mr. Crémieux food truck. Pastaga is a ode of nature wines as well as great food to pair with those wines. The food definitely has French influences at its core but branches out extensively in other food genres.

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Located on the relatively barren strip of St-Laurent just before little Italy but after Mile End, the restaurant is a small, simple space with mirror walls, misshapen wooden tables and ample lighting via power bars on the ceiling. The real beautiful touch is the bright red tilted kitchen that is visible in the back of the space. A glass wall blocks out the sound from the dining room but we can see everything going on. There is also a large table located in the kitchen for larger groups to enjoy if you can get it. Overall, it is a very cozy and comfortable environment to enjoy a meal in.

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I visited during Taste MTL where they were offering a 39$ menu of items off their current seasonal menu. Me and my dining companions ordered all of the options to try. First up, there was grilled Albacore tuna with braised fennel and citrus gel. The tuna was grilled to perfection. The braised fennel and the citrus were perfect compliments to the fish. A very nice start to the meal.

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Next up was marinated salmon with salmon jerky and a creamy potato salad. The salmon was, like the tuna, cooked perfectly. The potato salad was, as indicated, quite creamy with a strong hint of dill which paired very nicely with the salmon – bringing to mind a classic smoked salmon dish in terms of taste.

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The third main was a play on Jewish chopped liver with bagel chips, capers and hard boiled eggs. Now, I have never been a big fan of chopped liver. Despite my enjoyment of foie gras, the texture of Jewish-style chopped liver always created a roadblock for me. I went in with some apprehension but came out loving it. The texture of the liver was not an issue and had that great fatty flavour. The pickled onions brought some sweetness to that dish. The hard boiled egg was perfect and the bagel chips added that little bit of crunch and saltiness. A very well executed dish.

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The final main was, to me, the best thing we had all night – maple lacquered pork on a pancake with a parsnip salad. The pork and pancake combination was brillant – the right mix of sweetness, fattiness and starch. The pork, in particular, just fell apart without any effort. Great texture achieved by the kitchen staff there. The salad of parsnip added a little crispness and freshness so you felt a little better health-wise about eating pork, maple syrup and pancakes for dinner!

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For dessert, there were 2 options plus a cheese plate. The cheese plate was a goat cheese with candied nuts, apple butter and a mini cake loaf. The goat cheese (I forgot the name of it sadly) was quite good – soft but still firm enough to handle properly. The other 3 elements of the plate allowed you to add different levels of sweetness to pair with the cheese – the apple butter was a particularly wonderful surprise in terms of its strong flavour and consistency.

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In terms of desserts proper, we had the choice of a Mr. Crémeux Sundae with milk crumble and sous-vide Prunes or a raspberry cheesecake. The sundae was delicious. Anyone who visited the Mr. Crémeux food truck over the summer knows that Chef Juneau and company know how to make a great soft serve vanilla ice cream. The addition of sous-vide prunes provided some tartness and the crumble was nice and crunchy. The cheesecake was good as well – the texture was spot-on and the coulis was nice as well.

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Dinner at Pastaga met all of my expectations and more. Our waiter provided great service especially in terms of the wine pairings for each dish. You could tell he knew his wine list well. The food was wonderful across the board and the dining room itself relaxed and quiet enough to allow good conversation. This meal reinforced the notion that I waited way too long to stop by for dinner. I will definitely not make that mistake again… and I hope you don’t either.

Cheers!

Pastaga
6389 Saint Laurent
438 381 6389

Pastaga on Urbanspoon

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