Thursday, April 05, 2007

Restaurant Review: Tapeo

I saw this tapas restaurant listed in this month's Food and Wine magazine so I made a mental note of it for the next time Marc and I went out for dinner...

"This three-year-old Spanish Restaurant
is Montreal's benchmark for tapas. In an open
kitchen, chef Marie-Fleur St.Pierre makes the technically
demanding dishes - authentic Paella for two, and classic tapas
with her own spins - look as easy to cook as they are delicious"

When a restaurant makes it into a magazine like Food and Wine it has to be good and....when a Montreal restaurant makes it into a US magazine it's a given that it's gotta be damn good...as luck would have it, my husband called me this afternoon at work to tell me that he was taking me out tonight and I could pick the restaurant...at first I was a little hesitant to suggest Tapeo because, with my track record of expensive taste in food (my boss can vouch for that since he saw the bill for last year's Christmas party!), I was sure it was going to be "Très Cher"! I was pleasantly surprised when I looked them up and the saw that the prices were very reasonable (Tapas starting at $4.00 up to $15.00 and Paella for 2 for $25.00). Even the wine list was conservative with house reds starting at $20.00 and imported bottles at $24.00 - even more surprising was the absence of any Italian, French, or Australian wines - all Spanish wines in-house, very authentic! So I made my decision and ran it by Marc and he was all for it, especially when I mentioned that there was Paella on the menu. Of course, it will be hard to beat our favourite restaurant's (Las Americas) Paella but I'm up for the sampling. So I called to make a reservation (restaurants with hype usually require reservations whether they are recommended or not) and low and behold they were booked until 9PM...another good indication of the quality of the restaurant is a full house on a Thursday night! This piqued my curiosity even more...and also annoyed me - how could I, Erin, party planner for our Montreal office, not have heard about this restaurant before? How did I miss it? After all, my bosses trust my culinary judgement - will I be stripped of my foodie status?!...Ok, drama-queen episode over...moving on....

So as we are parking I'm thinking, no wonder not more people know about this restaurant! It's really off the beaten path. Out of downtown, out of the trendy neighborhoods like the Le Plateau or Old Montreal, and not even remotely close to downtown. It would be very unlikely for a tourist to get lost all the way out here and happen upon this little restaurant. The restaurant itself is cozy seating 50 max, dimly lit with candles on every table, with a bar at the back and a semi-open kitchen, the octave as we walk in is loud but you can almost feel the energy. There isn't a seat available and it's 8:30PM!

As we sit down, the waiter brings us a bowl of deep-fried matchstick potatoes (very addictive), along with some fresh bread and olive oil for dipping. We ordered an imported bottle of Alcanta alicante 2004 (Bodegas Bocopa) @ $33 - full bodied, berry flavours, and spicy notes. We ordered the Paella for 2 and we were told that it would take 25 minutes so while we were waiting we ordered two tapas; Fried Calamari with a garlic aioli ($7) and Chorizo with grilled red peppers on a romesco sauce ($8). Both were very yummy! The earthenware dishes are small but filled to the brim so the portions are quite decent. The Paella arrived just as we were finishing up our Chorizo and it was well worth the wait - delicious! Spicy and full of great authentic ingredients; chorizo, squid, white fish, mussels, and specks of a saffron threads. Never one to pass up dessert and coffee, we ordered the churros and espressos. The churros are deep-fried doughnut batons rolled in sugar and served with a semi-sweet chocolate sauce for dipping. Yummy!

What a great find - this restaurant has been added to our favourite restaurants list!

511 Villeray/Corner Berri
Montreal, QC


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