I was invited by the owner of Barcola Bistro a couple weeks back. First thing she said was that she'd been reading my blog and loved it. Well, let me get my freaking #2 food blogger in MTL ass down there, and quick! I invited my lunch time buddy, the Asian persuasion man himself, Jer, to join me.
Barcola Bistro is located on Parc, in the mile-end, right at the cusp of Outremont. Just by looking at it from outside, it looked like such a cute place! A place I really wanted to eat at. A place, I'd later find out, I'd be at all the time if it were closer to my apartment. Damn it. A place, by the by, Anne-Marie Lortie has written rave reviews about. What! Anyhoot, the owner/chef is from Trieste, located in the North East of Italy, on the Adriatic coast. Ps, with my new Transat benefits, I'm heading there, pronto! They opened a bit over two years ago. The chef, Fabrizio, is Italian (duh) and his wife, Danielle, is the nicest person EVER. I'm being serious here. She came to greet us and throughout the meal, was very present, and after our meal, came to sit down so we could chat for a good 30 minutes. Now THAT's good customer service!
Barcola's menu changes twice a day. TWICE. It kind of reminded me of my old fave resto (this, obviously, is my new one), Olivieri, in Côte-des-Neiges. Fresh products and fresh ideas. DEEEElicious dishes. To be honest, I totally fell in love with this place.
Inside, it looks great: dark walls, with black and white pictures, big mirrors, long banquettes, vintage lamps and lots of wood. Some soft music was playing, which made it that much more charming.
WOW! This was lovely. LOVELY! We both tasted it and we both went 'mmmm' (X10). It was the perfect dish. I, not being a strong cheese lovah like gorgonzola, decided to have this as somewhat of a challenge. Well, I dsidn't regret it one bit. This dish was full of surprises! Cheese, pistachio, ginger gelée, caramelized pears. WOW! I really can't stop saying that. The pear was perfect and not overly sweet. The bread was perfectly grilled. The gorgonzola was soft and yummy and had a touch of citrus, which made it that much better. Fresh pistachio right on top gave it a nice texture, without being too salty. The ginger jam was not too ...gingery. Just a touch. Now, that was an awesome dish. One to tell the grand kids about. Or, I guess, my nephews and niece :p Seriously, all those ingredients i'd never thought would marry well, did! Hats off, chef. Hats off.
Celeriac purée with green beans. OK, this sounds much better in french! Purée de céleri rave avec haricots verts. Yes, much better. That purée was so soft and smooth. The haricots verts were cooked to perfection and the bread was nice and slightly buttered. A drizzle of oil to finish it off and you've got yourself a winner. The only thing we both found was lacking was a tad bit more salt. That's it that's all.
Artichoke and shrimp risotto. You had me at shrimp. I'm sure you guys would've guessed that one. How beautiful is that risotto? Cooked in artichoke stock, it had taken on the green hue of the vegetable. How many of you can say they've eaten a green risotto? I'm guessing 0.2. My face pretty much lit up when Danielle brought this to our table. With some charred artichoke, some pieces of shrimp and a pinch of parmesan, this dish was flawless. The risotto itself tasted very herbal and a hint of lemon could be detected through all that yumminess (technical term, of course). I would've liked more shrimp, but even if you gimme a mountain of shrimp, I'd still want more.
Cod with purée de pommes de terre and chickory. The cod was nicely charred, and, in all seriousness, was flaking just by looking at it. Cross my heart, hope to die! The potatoes were awesome (what ISN'T awesome here...) and moist but maybe a tad too much liquid had made it's way in there. The chicory, which, by the by, I neva eva run into (on the street, you know), was very earthy, a bit on the hard side, but nice and peppery. Again, every ingredient went very well with one another.
Panna Cotta with berries and nuts. The layer of berries was just a tad too sweet for me but I loved the nuts that added a nice crunch to it all. The panna cotta was very cold and super smooth. It was the most excellent panna cotta I've ever tasted. Granted I haven't yet tasted 25, but still. The nuts, on top of adding some texture, added another aspect to the dessert that was lovely. The taste of the pistachios in there fit with the fruit. Every ingredient in this dish was welcomed in ma mouth. Even the berries! Ps: I'm not an uber fan of fruits in dessert, so this is a step!
Service was right on par throughout the meal. We got a great welcome and Danielle explained everything to us and made us taste stuff like the nocciolino, that I would have never tasted otherwise. The wine service was ITHQ grade (there's no other way!) and our water glasses were always full because we had a bottle on our table (oh so important and THE way to do it, in my book). She was just so lovely. I would've put her in my pocket and brought her home with me. We never thought for a moment that we weren't taken care of.
And now, the scores!!
Food: 9.2 (because I can)
Service: a well deserving 10
As I've mentioned, this is hands (AND everything else) down. My new fave resto. And although I rarely go back to the same restaurant, oh, I WILL go back to Barcola!