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Bacaro Urban Pizzeria

30 Aug

We have been spoiled in Montreal recently with all the great pizzerias that have opened up. The flip side of having such great pizza readily available is that pizzerias must work that much harder to keep our interests. Average pizza just won’t cut it anymore. Last week, I found myself in Westmount at Bacaro Urban Pizzeria – for the record, we need to kill the adding of “Urban” to things that don’t need it but I digress – ready to enjoy a pizza and see how they stacked up to my favorites.


It was dead on the weeknight we were there – only one other table was occupied – so the ambience was non-existant. The room is nice though – very clean and modern with touches of a more classic Italian pizzeria. I liked the use of old Italian sports newspaper as wallpaper and the painted murals of some of their suppliers. There is also a bar at the entrance with a entire shelf of large Nutella jars – once I saw their dessert list, I understood why!



We kept it short and sweet on this evening so I got to try a couple of pizzas. My selection was the Polpetta – meatballs, ricotta and basil. The pizza had a good size – very filling for one person. The amount of toppings was plentiful although I would have loved more basil personally. I loved the combination of the meatballs with the creamy ricotta. My issue was with the crust however. While the picture does show a nice char on the top, the underside was too soft – there was no crunch and the pizza could not be lifting at all without it collapsing on itself. The pizza was very flavourful but with a thin crust pizza, you need a solid crust and that was lacking.


It was a similar story with my girlfriend’s pizza, the Quasi Norma – eggplants, zucchinis, red peppers and ricotta. Tons of fresh veggies, the right amount of cheese and sauce but the underside was just too limp and soft.


We did have time for dessert though – especially when we saw how much Nutella was involved. We decided to share the Nutella cream cake – sliced panettone layered with nutella cream served with nutella sauce. If you love Nutella then this is your cake. Good lord was this rich and decadent. I expected the panettone to be harder in texture but frankly it was better this way. A great way to cap off the evening.


Bacaro had high standards to meet for me and didn’t quite get there. The flavours were there all around and the service was nice and friendly but if the crust is lacking, then the pizza just can’t hold up for me. If the crunch appears, we have a winner but until then, Bacaro can’t quite reach my upper echelon of pizzerias.


Bacaro Urban Pizzeria
4259 Ste-Catherine O
514 932 9991

Bacaro Urban Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Taverne Sur Le Square

13 Sep

With the rapid succession of new restaurants that open in Montreal, it is sometimes very easy to focus on the new stuff without considering some older more established spots. Just because they aren’t new doesn’t mean they aren’t worth visiting. I was reminding of this a few weeks ago when I met up with my girlfriend and some of her co-workers for a post-work dinner at Westmount Square and more specifically at Taverne Sur Le Square, a place I had never been to before somehow.


The second of chef Stephen Leslie’s three restaurants – after Monkland Taverne and before Le Sieur d’Iberville – Taverne Sur Le Square called itself comfort food with international twist. The space is one befitting its place in Westmount Square – one of our city’s architectural beauties. The open room is warm and welcoming while keeping that touch of refinement. We chose to sit outside on the terrasse gently lit by patio lights strung across the space. Because of the risk of rain that evening, we were pretty much alone out there – one should never turn down some terrasse time especially with how short terrasse season is for us but I digress….




Looking at the menu, I decided to go with the table d’hôte whereas my girlfriend went with a couple of starters for a lighter dinner. My selection of the table d’hôte gave me a salad to start – very simple and served with roasted seeds over top. The roasted flavour of the seeds was a nice touch. The portion was very generous as well – very uncommon as a table d’hôte starter.


My girlfriend’s first starter, the salmon tacos with Pico de gallo and avocado, was a slight miss. Loved the soft tortillas and the creamy avocado and the fish was fresh but it felt bland. The pico de gallo didn’t have much punch to it and the portion felt a little small even as an entree.


The second starter was more along the right track – Grilled octopus with chickpeas and red pepper puree, sauce vierge, parsley and red onion. The octopus was plentiful and grilled nicely with just a bit of char to it. The puree was nice and creamy and the sauce vierge paired nicely with the whole thing.


As a main, I decided to go with the soft shell crab served in a bun with remoulade, tomato, pickle, lettuce and tavern sauce. This item was the reason I went with the table d’hôte for a change. The soft shell crab was plentiful and had a great crunch. Add some fresh veggies, a creamy sauce all put between a great soft bun and you had an awesome sandwich to enjoy. Plus, it was served with a nice of wonderfully crunchy fries to enjoy. Goodness all around.



The last I got to try was their creme brûlée – always a sucker for a creme brûlée and a little sweetness to finish off a meal. A very solid creme – nice caramelization on the top with a richness and creaminess underneath.


Despite a couple of neutral or slight misses, my first experience at Taverne Sur Le Square was a solid one. You can see how this restaurant has survived being in the relatively dead zone restaurant wise for over 14 years now. A place where you can grab a quick bite and drink after work or have a nice refined dinner for a special occasion. Taverne on the Square isn’t perhaps on the forefront of the “Hot” restaurants in Montreal but if you willing to deviate from the current trend and try a classic, you may wonder why it’s not on that list to begin with.


Tavern on the Square
1 Westmount Sq Ste
514 989 9779

Click to add a blog post for Tavern on the Square on Zomato


16 Sep

Trust in your ingredients. Showcase the product. My enjoyment of the TV show Top Chef Canada has made these statements stick in my head to the point where they just sound like stupid TV buzzwords now. However, there is definitely something to be said for a more restrained approach – one where things are not overdone. The freshness and unique flavours of the ingredients are allowed to shine. Restaurant Park definitely falls into this category of locale.



Park is the brainchild of chef Antonio Park, formerly of Kaizen and someone I had heard many great things about. Funny enough, I’d had lunch there very shortly after the place opened and before word-of-mouth had actually developed. Fast-forward over a year later and I was back for dinner – very specifically for the Omakase, the chef’s tasting menu. When one comes to Park, this was apparently the way to do it. Simply let chef Antonio and his staff work their magic.


The first course was a Heirloom tomato soup with jalapeno and fried plantain chips. Now given this was a warm summer evening, the presence of a warm soup as a entree was a little odd but the flavours worked well enough. Nice sweetness of the tomatoes with the spicy of jalapeno mixed nicely. The consistency of the soup was nice and smooth all the way through. The fried chip added some crunch and the use of plantain added a little extra sweetness.


The second course was a zucchini flower stuffed with veal sweetbreads and tempura fried on a bed of heirloom tomato with 12 yr old Balsamic vinegar and natural yogourt. This looked so good that I forgot to take a picture before digging in so pardon the half-eaten one below. The sweetbreads were cooked perfectly. The tomatoes and the vinegar provided some acidity to balance the fattiness of the veal. The tempura added a nice crunch as well.


The next course was the Nigiri plate. This was the main event of the evening. Chef Antonio has a private fish import license so he brings over fresh, never frozen fish from places like Japan a few times a week. In some cases, the fish has been send over using Kaimin tai technique where the fish has been acupunctured to maintain a high level of freshness compared to traditional methods of killing and shipping fish. we were served 6 different kinds of fish – each on top of sushi rice and a small additional element/seasoning. The extra elements ran the gamut from a tapping leaf to chimichurri to marinated caviar to maple syrup and fresh wasabi. This was pretty much the freshest sushi I have ever eaten. Simple and elegant, there was no need for wasabi or soy sauce hence why there wasn’t any of the table anyway. The fish just fell apart in your mouth and the little extra each added a unique element but without overpowering the natural flavours of each fish. This Nigiri has probably destroyed my future enjoyment of Nigiri anywhere else in Montreal so I guess I will need to stick to maki rolls outside of Park.


The fourth course was fresh brown butter BC halibut on a plate of razor clams, radishes and Quebec corn. The overall technique and execution here was flawless. Beautifully fresh and flaky halibut with a wonderfully rich brown butter sauce. The combination of clams, radishes and corn add some lightness to the rich sauce. A very nice main course dish.


The final course was of course dessert. Chef Antonio served us Patbingsu, a Korean dessert of shaved ice and sweetened azuki beans. The flavours of the shaved ice were cantaloup, pineapple and watermelon and that was augmented with fresh fruits and hazelnuts. For me personally, this was the least successful dish of the evening. To be fair, I am not a fan of melons (yeah I know…. let’s just move on from here) so 2 of the 3 flavours didn’t work for me but the whole combination of everything felt kind of flat. No real punch or “wow” moment. A bit of letdown to finish the meal but the rest of the menu will eliminate this dish from my memory.


Omakase means “I’ll leave it to you” which in the capable hands of chef Antonio is definitely the right call. Everything Chef Antonio presents you shows a level of respect and reverence for the product which can only be described as elegant. Technique just shines through at every level. Restaurant Park is worth a visit if only to try the Nigiri or Sashimi but I suspect you will find other dishes to enjoy as well. Park may just have driven my sushi standards up a notch but if that means I have to come back more often for sushi, that may not necessarily be a bad thing.


378 Victoria Ave.
514 750 7534

Restaurant Park on Urbanspoon

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