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Critic: Chef Tavares’ Ibérica is a Perfectly Executed Affair

While Verdun’s new spot Pigor and Hochelaga-Maisonneuve’s Heirloom are mostly enjoyable.


With little more than a month and change under its belt since opening, chef Marino Tavares’ downtown Spanish restaurant Ibérica has earned its first review from Iris Gagnon-Paradis of La Presse. After taking a moment to admire the industrial-chic handiwork of the inimitable Montreal designer Zébulon Perron with pleasingly bitter cocktails in hand, the critic finds herself somewhat overwhelmed by the long menu that ranges from charcuterie to conservas, paellas to grilled meats. While a large selection may run the risk of not having consistent quality across the board, her evening progresses without a stumble. A “delicious” assortment of croquettes is much a star as the tapas plates of squid with lemon on cuttlefish ink and quail with candied onion that is “well lacquered and soft... (with a) smoky and slightly spicy taste”. Equally pleasing smoke and spice is found in the restaurant’s paella and Iberian pork with “dreamily creamy” mashed potatoes, broccolini, and carrot. The sweet sampling of the menu with churros and Catalan crème brûlée is found to be just as satisfying, with only the churros’ dulce de leche and chocolate sauce being a little too dense for her liking. All in all, the critic finds this new restaurant to be “perfectly executed” with only one warning on prices some may find too high. However, having found that her bill drove up, that can only suggest the desire to try more only superseded an attempt to not break the bank. [La Presse]

Restaurant Pigor

Following a week without a review from Le Devoir’s Jean-Phillippe Tastet, the critic has returned with favourable words for the new bistro project Pigor from Sidney Gordon, Laurence Pilot, Juliana Pilot and chef Gauthier Mauries. The restaurant has been open for several months now, but nary a peep has come from media—that is, until now. Save for a brief note on a warm, inviting interior with music a bit too loud for his tastes and amiable service, it doesn’t take long for Tastet to pluck at the restaurant’s menu of cold and hot offerings. In the former category, he finds a tuna tataki in miso broth to be just as delicious as a hot slad of Brussel sprouts and bacon, but it’s a seam bream carpaccio served with a lime vinaigrette and a honey chardonnay jelly that captures his attention and “brings tears to (his) eyes.” However, salmon does arrive at the table half-cooked, which seemed to break the Pigor’s spell over Tastet; similar issues came up with a cuttlefish ink risotto served with octopus and radish; the octopus was deemed “tasteless”. Other hot dishes included a roast duck breast made questionable by powdered olive; a cut of beef that tasted more of beef cheek than it’s description of ‘beef scoter’; and three seared scallops that pleased almost every dining partner, save for the fourth diner who didn’t get one. Finally, desserts of caramelized bananas and deconstructed lemon tart were immediately inhaled, so it’s safe to assume they were enjoyed. Despite the trips and stumbles, Tastet appears to find a place in his heart for Verdun’s newest bistro, provided some improvements are made: Three and a half stars. [Le Devoir]

Following La Presse’s Marie-Claude Lortie’s mostly pleased account from last week, now Lesley Chesterman of the Montreal Gazette has paid a visit to Hochelaga-Maisonneuve’s latest arrival Heirloom. After remarking that this pizza spot is among several restaurants that are part of the shift to less-frequented fringes of the island for new business (Pigor in Verdun is another example), the critic tucks in. She finds the menu to be somewhat typical of a trattoria, but there’s much to be said for classics done right: The opening dishes of calamari, a Caesar salad, and a half-portion of carbonara were all rich and enjoyed; while that pasta was enjoyed, there were misgivings over a papardelle with a mushroom and rabbit ragout which was found to be “cloying” from an excess of butter and oil. However, Chesterman is found to expound the most when it comes to the pizza: Having ordered all-dressed and Italian sausage pies, they were both a tad too heavy on the toppings and lacked the pleasingly puffy quality found in Neapolitan-style pies, but the crust was flavourful nonetheless; the sauce, on the other hand, could use “zuzzing up” to enhance the experience. Finally, the dessert milkshakes were enjoyable finales, with the dulce de leche option earning exclamation marks. All told, with its friendly service, the critic admit the pizza may not be the best in town, but there’s plenty of room for improvement. Two and a half stars. [Montreal Gazette]


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