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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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Pastaga (Brunch Edition)

17 Sep

Another beautiful Sunday in Montreal can only mean another Brunch opportunity. This past weekend, my brunch partner and I….and yes… I have a brunch buddy. In lieu of a relationship, brunch is best enjoyed amongst friends, so we have made this a regular occurrence. Great way to maintain friendships you care about. Food for thought (and pun completely intended). Anyway… Pastaga is a restaurant that I have wanted to visit for some time now. Eventually I will go for dinner but for the time being, having been biking by it every weekend for the past 3 months on my way to Jean Talon Market, I decided that brunch was a quicker option for the time being.

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Pastaga does brunch on Sunday exclusively. On this beautiful day, we arrived before any rush and sat down right away. Right off the bat, the place has a great look and feel. Very simple and fresh decor. The large window in the front of the restaurant provides a large amount of natural light which lights up the space. Simple wood tables, couch chairs and a nice bar in the back. The killer element is the glass wall in the back which exposes the beautiful kitchen for all to see. I could have sat there for hours.

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Started off with a strawberry smoothie and the complimentary sugared doughnuts with housemate caramel. Smoothie was light but had a great taste. The doughnuts were very good as well. They didn’t have the warm fluffy texture of something that has been made fresh to order but were delicious regardless. Nice crunch to them and not too dense. The caramel was the star however. Perfectly rich and smooth.

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As a main course, I had Pastaga’s version of a hash. Grilled potatoes and peppers with bacon, egg and toast. Simple in principle but exquisite in execution. All the elements came together wonderfully for a great dish. The bacon in particular was just perfect. More a large slab of pork than what most would consider bacon but no complaints here. Simply a great dish.

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My friend had the Benedictine plate. Pastaga’s play of this dish included a fowl drumstick. Once again, every element of the plate was perfectly executed. The biscuit was good, the poached egg was perfect, the drumstick was great and the hollandaise sauce was exceptionally light with the same taste one would expect from most hollandaise sauces. Another great dish.

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Finally, to finish off the meal, we split the petit fours which consisted of 4 mini brownies with a candied grape in the middle of each. A perfect sweet ending to a very good meal.

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Pastaga was a great brunch experience that I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a nice place to try out. This meal further reinforced my need to come have dinner here as well. Anytime you are in the Little Italy/ Jean Talon Market area, you would be hard pressed to find a better brunch option to enjoy on a nice relaxing Sunday.

Cheers!

Pastaga
6389 Saint-Laurent (corner Beaubien)
438 381-6389

Pastaga on Urbanspoon

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