Saturday, February 12, 2011

Restaurant Barroco

312 Saint-Paul Ouest
Montréal, QC H2Y 2A3

Hello food lovers!

I've been going out more than I've been cooking lately :)

I recently tried this interesting new restaurant that my friend Silia told me about called Barroco. 
The cuisine is French and Spanish. Yay - Different!

I have been obsessed with Spanish anything lately...especially the wine + Serrano ham. lol I even bought the Mario Batali book called "Spain, a Culinary Road Trip", which he wrote with Gwyneth Paltro. They went on a culinary road trip together through Spain. They met lots of people and ate a lot of great Spanish food along the way (my dream). The pictures, the recipes and the funny little anecdotes were very entertaining. So, needless to say this restaurant was right up my alley!

Barroco's website was very nice, the pictures were great and the menu was different and exiting to me. I also checked out some popular sites like Urbanspoon to see how real people liked their experience there. 

88% of diners liked this restaurant. I am always a little skeptical and hate the idea of wasting a Saturday night with a mediocre food experience so I always gage these opinions based on how it compares to Da Emma's rating (I consider DaEmma to be one of the best fine dining establishments in Montreal). Barroco actually rated a little higher than DaEmma so of course, I hopped over to my phone and made a reservation for the following Saturday.

Boy! Was I excited... 

When we got there, my husband and I  both agreed that the decor is really interesting, cozy,inviting, romantic, rustic, and of course very barroc! (Hence the name :) I usually dont't start with decor but it really was cool.

The restaurant is a lot smaller than it looks on line & its a little on the loud side but I'm not complaining. There were lots of people talking and having a good time. I didn't mind that atmosphere. It was after all, a Saturday night and we wanted to have fun more than a romantic 'tete a tete' dinner. The music selection was great! They played some mellow classic rock like Jimmy Hendrix, Eric Clapton and so many more that I can't remember right now.

You can eat at the bar which I don't normally do however at this place, I would. Its spacious and attractive as bars go. Couples were sitting comfortably next to each other - it looked more intimate and romantic than sitting face a face and for friends, its great for conversation in that type of environment. So if you're having a dinner for 2 and they don't have a table, only the bar...take it. 

On to the food...We were starting off really well...The butter that came with the bread was so tasty, it was combined with a mixture of smoked paprika, a little garlic. So many restaurants these days flavour their butter and I'm usually annoyed by it because I like plain butter on my bread. However, this one still tasted like butter but with a little kick.

We both ordered the 'amuse-bouche' of the evening which was a single oyster with a piece of fois gras on it. Delectable! My bouche was amused & we were psyched for the rest. 6 bucks each though..

Appetizers.  My husband had the Fois Gras Terrine (Cognac & Porto) lemon confit and harvest bread. He deemed it as just 'Good'.  Mine was the Grilled Octopus with corn mash and corn soufflé , pimiento de padron , arugula & Parmesan. I enjoyed this but can't say I was impressed..the texture of the octopus was a little chewy but the flavors were well balanced.

Main.  I chose the Braised Beef Cheeks with Mashed Potato Mousse. It was the special of the day so you may not find it on their menu all the time.  IT...WAS....HEAVENLY! It was a stew, so the meat just fell apart, the sauce was thick and smooth.  The mushrooms were of a meaty texture and took on the beefy flavour of the dish. The mashed potato mousse was light, creamy and contrasted nicely against the darker stew colour.

My husband had the Paella de Barroco. It was tomato based, made with lobster, shrimps, scallops, morcilla, tomatoes, red peppers and green peas. This was also very tasty. In fact , he wished  his portion was bigger. The seafood wasn't chewy, it was perfectly cooked.

Our waiter was very nice and pleasant but I got a little annoyed when my husband told him that I thought that there was something wrong with the wine. It seemed "off" to me. He didn't verify it (usually they try it or smell it to see if its ok- and they'll change it if necessary) 
He said , "Oh well not everybody likes the same wine" and walked off with a little laugh..That made me feel that he wasn't trained properly. I didn't have anymore wine - disappointing.

Dessert. We tried the chocolate molten cake and the so called "Apple Pie". The molten chocolate cake was what you'd expect and it was good. The "so called apple pie" was a few sliced apples on a kind of shortbread rectangle...The description sounded  so good...but it was on the bitter side and didn't look like pie at all..

Barroco, I would have gone traditional on that one..Its what you'd expect when reading the description. It was such a departure from the rest of the menu which is comprised of many comforting foods.
The description shoulda' read, "sliced bitter apple on a hard rectangle" It was so small and I didn't even finish it. Have a cocktail instead...they have a great cocktail menu. They should try serving Churros (taditional Spanish fried dough covered in cinnamon and sugar) 

So, I think I understand why it got an 88% approval rating. It must have been based on atmosphere primarily and then because the food is really decent. Meaning, one must choose carefully. Not everything on their menu is a hit.

I've said this before...Its harder to find the right balance of a fun atmosphere and great food in Montreal. They seem to be few and far between.  In New York, and Miami, its so easy to just fall upon a place with that balance, especially Miami - they've really got it down! If you find one in Montreal, please let me know!

I would go back, definitely! I want to sit at the bar with my better half and have a few cocktails or go back with friends to have a good time....Great place for a 5 a 7. I don't know if I'll have dessert though.

I want this place to get a better rating - it has so much going for it.

Thanks for reading!