Lesley Chesterman is the first Montreal food critic to take a stab at the relocated Pintxo. The metaphor is apt—after a mistake-laden meal the Gazette contributor thrusts the knife in deep, giving Miguel Aguilar's restaurant a measly one and a half stars on four. Pintxo had previously fared well with Chesterman, earning two stellar reviews in its original Plateau location. Sadly, Chesterman is chagrined to discover that the new Pintxo is a shadow of its former self.
Not much goes right over the course of her meal. A well-meaning server tries his best, but is overwhelmed. A promised glass of wine is forgotten, as is a plate of cod cheeks. Chesterman senses "that something [is] off" from the jump. The sophisticated, flavourful cuisine so evident at the Pintxo of old is noticeably absent. Of the tapas sampled, there aren't many high notes to speak of. Halumi with arugula, and pine-nut, bacon vinaigrette doesn't "taste of much and certainly [doesn't] look like much." Garlic prawns are undercooked. Black cod is tainted by "an off-putting amount of vinegar." Grilled scallops with a bacon cream sauce work well, as do piquillo peppers stuffed with crab and shrimp. The kitchen's recovery, however, is tragically short-lived. Pork loin is "raw at the core." Worse, Chesterman describes a celery root purée as "unpleasantly bitter", sherry sauce as "just plain dull", and seared foie gras as "amateurishly salted."
Desserts seal Pintxo's fate. A "panna cotta meets cheese cake" is "the definition of the word plain." A poached pear with ice cream is "a complete bust because the pear was under poached. Our waiter eventually brought out a steak knife to cut it. A steak knife to cut a poached pear? For real?" Chesterman departs the Mont-Royal Est restaurant somewhat confounded. "Where was the Pintxo that once impressed me so? Where was the finesse? Where was the love?"