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Montreal’s Flashy New Spanish Resto Flops In Review

While the fanciest sugar shack around also doesn’t meet high expectations

Ibérica/Supplied

Gazette critic Lesley Chesterman is at Spanish restaurant Ibérica this week — and behind the neutral headline (that it “expands Montreal’s Spanish offerings”) lies a bomb of a review for the fancy newcomer on Peel Street. It seems promising: Chesterman deems it an “extremely stylish and ambitious restaurant” with its cathedral ceilings and chandeliers, but once the consumables start rolling out, there’s not too much to love, she writes. Smaller bites like the rather molecular “liquid olives” get props, but as things get bigger, the payoff shrinks. The clams with artichoke and chorizo in a watery broth are “easily the dullest restaurant dish I’ve eaten so far in 2018,” writes the critic.

Later on, a grilled pork shoulder has passable flavour, but the meat is on par with supermarket pork loin. Then to finish, some churros are just “fine”, while a foamy crème Catalane with some kind of crumble comes across as pretty bizarre. Equally off-putting was the fact that Ibérica didn’t seem to have a sommelier well-versed in the wine selection, an oddity for a “fancy pants” restaurant — and on top of that, Chesterman writes that her group felt rather rushed to leave the restaurant, despite having a full three hours to dine. A sad and lonely one star. [Montreal Gazette]

Cabane à Sucre Au Pied de Cochon/Official

Over at alt-monthly Cult Montreal, critic JP Karwacki squeezes into Au Pied de Cochon’s endlessly popular sugar shack out north, with its rich twists on the classic maple-doused shack eats. While he recognizes that “excess is the name of the game”, the whole set-up — with so much food that take-out containers are routinely supplied, and maple shooter boys roam the room — comes across as a little “circus-y”. Much of the meal is Moroccan-tinged, and it seems that only about half the dishes land. Maple-smoked salmon kefta and a pork tangia dish up flavour, while another ras-el-hanout beef tangia is cloyingly sweet, and the shack’s take on lardons in the form of maple loubia (white bean stew) is a mess of “maple and cumin slapped together”. In short, it’s a little unfocused, and Karwacki leaves the impression that the shack didn’t quite meet admittedly high expectations. [Cult MTL]

Otto Yakitori/Facebook

At La Presse, critic Marie-Claude Lortie drops by izakaya and Japanese grilled skewer spot Otto Yakitori, finding it a lovely spot for a beer and a bite at a low price. Tender, salty bites of char-grilled chicken and more hit the spot. Outside the skewered specialties, there are some minor flaws: the burger-bao hybrid of pork on steamed buns doesn’t have the tenderness that some equivalents elsewhere in town offer, yet a spicy pork bibimbap earns the title of “most comforting dish” — a win for Lortie. [La Presse]

Manoir Hovey/Facebook

Finally, Le Devoir’s Jean-Philippe Tastet is in the Eastern Townships, at high-end getaway restaurant Manoir Hovey in Hatley, a Relais et Châteaux property. The critic finds almost no flaws with longtime chef Francis Wolf’s both surfy and earthy offerings: a tender veal dish (in both sausage and fillet form) has a tenderness that’s a testament to the producer, rounded out with root vegetables. Equally successful is the Atlantic halibut with periwinkles, kombu root, eggplant and an intriguing sea lettuce sauce. Four stars, and definitely worth the three and a half hour round trip. [Le Devoir]

Cabane à Sucre Au Pied De Cochon

11382 Rang de la Fresnière, , QC J7N 2R9 Visit Website

Ibérica

1450 Rue Peel, Ville-Marie, QC H3A 1S8 (514) 285-1888 Visit Website

Otto Yakitori Izakaya

1441 Rue Saint Mathieu, Ville-Marie, QC H3H 2M4 (514) 507-8886 Visit Website

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