The other day I had a taste of Greece. I had a Groupon that entitled me for 66$ worth of food and drinks at Tasso Bar à Mezze, on St-Denis, in Montreal. Since my coupon was expiring on the 16th, I decided to go with my friend Makara last Friday.
The menu cover made with cork. Cool right?
When we got in we instantly fell in love with the decor. The wall were white and seemed raw and shaped in a way that made the restaurant look like the inside of a traditional white greek house. The windows in the ceiling also permitted to get a lot of natural lighting, which seemed to be a better choice than artificial lighting.
My view on the restaurant from where I was sitting.
A view on the kitchen behind me.
Open up the menu. Too. Many. Choices. The waiter told us they didn't have scallops that day so it helped us narrow down our choices a little bit ... but not that much. Everything looked tempting, intriguing, interesting, delicious ... They have a lunch special at 18$ that includes a choice of mezze, a main dish and a dessert. We decided to choose four mezze so we could try many different things. Prices for the mezze were ranging from 9$ to 20$.
After we took a decision the waiter told us he'd bring the fish first, then the meat. We thought it was a good idea. He brought an empty plate for each, as well as olive oil and braised bread.
For the fish courses we had grilled octopus and fish ravioli. The grilled octopus we had doesn't seem to appear on the website's menu (it's far from being complete) so I can't tell what it was named. It was a braised octopus tentacle sitting on an artichoke and pine nuts salad, topped with a mix of fresh greens and served with a lemon sauce.
It was amazing. From experience, we remember octopus as a slightly rubbery seafood. This one was actually so tender, it felt like we were cutting into a piece of roasted chicken. The flavors and textures complimented well each other. You had the tenderness and vinegary taste of the artichoke against the crunch and smokey taste of the pine nuts as well as the grilled octopus complimented by the freshness of the greens. The lemon sauce added a little zing to the dish. The fact that it wasn't served on top of the food allowed us to control the amount of sauce we wanted with each bite.
The fish ravioli is named ravioles me psari me salada kounoupidi kai avgolemono on the menu. The ravioli were made of white fish (from taste I think it was haddock) and topped with lemon sauce (avgolemono sauce). They came with steamed cauliflower topped with white sauce.
Again, an amazing game and marriage of flavors and textures. The crushed nuts added some crunch to a dish that was overall tender. The fact that the cauliflower and the ravioli had different sauces helped the different flavors stand out even more because you didn't have the same lemon sauce in every bite. Though the lemon sauce is very flavorful, we were still able to taste really well the fish that was definitively very fresh. The addition of raisins and capers to the cauliflower balanced the dish that would have been missing sweetness and saltiness otherwise.
After we were done with the seafood, our lovely waiter brought the meat dishes. We had chosen the lamb moussaka and the grilled pork.
The lamb moussaka, or moussaka apo arni stifado, is made with braised Québec lamb. It was shaped like a flan and came with small potatoes, sitting in some sauce and topped with fresh greens.
The game of textures and flavors wasn't as intense as it was with the previous dishes but everything seemed to have been chosen in a way to balance out everything. The freshness of the greens prevented the potatoes from seeming dull. The lamb was very tender and the moussaka overall was "melting" in our mouths. The sauce wasn't too strong so we were able to taste the actual ingredients used to make our dishes.
The second dish of meat, gourounopoulo me fricassé, was grilled pork sitting on a pork and bean stew, topped with fresh greens.
This dish was also delicious but a bit less interesting than the others. The pork was seasoned in a simple way and was really tender but I have to admit I sorta grew tired of the beans at the some point. Perhaps I wasn't hungry anymore. I honestly don't really know since it was our 4th dish and we really took our time. Maybe I would have enjoyed the last dish a bit more ... if it wasn't the last one.
Of course we weren't done, though we thought we were. Our waiter decided to bring us small desserts.
I don't remember what the waiter told us they were. The one on the left looked like a small brownie and the one on the right like a small white cake with melon on top.
The chocolate dessert was the perfect compromise between brownie and fudge. It melted in our mouths and the taste stayed there for a few minutes. It wasn't dense at all but it didn't have the texture of regular fudge. Thinking about it makes me want to have some so bad. The salt it came with made the chocolate flavor stand out even more.
The other dessert was very light and airy. It was like a small piece of white cake with a bit of fruit jam (I don't remember what it was) and a refreshing piece of melon. The different textures made that dessert very interesting and I would be very pleased to try the full size version of it.
After we were done (for real ... sorta) Makara and I stayed a bit and talked a lot about nothing and everything. The waiter didn't seem to mind us staying (actually he didn't even ask us if we wanted the bill right away). After we paid the difference and tipped him we stepped outside in the deadly warmth of a hot summer day.
Overall I was really happy to try that restaurant. I would be glad to come back and have a taste of the other items on the menu. I really liked the ambiance, the service, the fact that you could see the cooks getting busy in the kitchen, everything about that restaurant. I think this place is perfect for a date or to grab lunch with a friend, but I wouldn't come with a group because it would ruin the peace and beauty of the place.