Literally located on Place-des-arts, Taverne F is a glass bubble with a front-row view on all the summer action. In contrast to its big brother a few streets North, Ferreira Café, lil’ T is a casual dining destination specializing in petiscos. In some ways the close cousin of the Spanish tapas; petiscos are sharing plates the world would definitely benefit from getting to know better. To spread more love to this world, Taverne F is now offering three petiscos for a mere $21 during lunchtime and after 8:00PM.
Having missed the media launch of the petiscos menu, I dragged Cousin A along for a private little tasting.We were greeted by Tristan, our go-to man for the night. A sommelier in training, he definitely knew how to charm with some fine espumante. Straight from Ferreira’s vineyards, the sparkling wine was a pleasant introduction to the Douro region. Happy – we ordered away our petiscos. In good Portuguese spirit, we picked the roasted sardines and cod cakes. The sardines were just salty enough with a satisfying crunchy ending of fleur de sel. They sat on a bed of stirred onions and red peppers, which were slightly sweetened, and were a lovely contrast with the fish. As for the cod, it was crisp and moist, and subtle in flavor.
Waiting for our main petiscos, we munched on fresh bread and olive oil that, you will have guessed, was also from the Ferreira estate in Northern Portugal. Called the F Reserve Olive Oil, it had a nice balance of fruity and bitter tastes, and a fun spicy ending to it.And then came the shrimp: sizzling hot and covered in a good dose of spiced up garlic. If you generally consider yourself team garlic, these little ones are a must. Fired up on the grill, the shrimps’ shell was crispy (just right) while its center retained all its juiciness and flavor.
On the meat side, we opted for the very traditional Carne de Porco à Alentejana. A tender piece of pork served with clams, it is usually marinated for hours in a medley of Portugal’s best (wine, garlic, paprika, etc.) before being fried for that golden brown polish. Taverne F’s variation was generous in black olives and marinated cauliflowers that added a nice vinegary twist to the dish.
Tristan spoiled us throughout the meal, making us sample almost all of Mr. Ferreira’s wine cellar. One in particular struck me: Ferreira’s Reserva 2011. A blend of Tinto Roriz (Tempranillo to the Spanish), Touriga Franca (mostly known for producing port wine) and Touriga Nacional, it had a rounded intensity and lovely notes of licorice. Finally came the time for desserts (+$7-$9/each). We wanted to try them all, and so they all arrived simultaneously on one large wooden plate.From left to right, top to bottom: fig cake and ice cream, pastel de nata, rice pudding with poached pear sorbet and chocolate & orange ganache. The Cousin was particularly fond of the latter, although it was a bit too rich for me. The nata, however, blew me away; it rested in a fine crispy crust and literally melting in the mouth.In case you believe egg tartlets are originally from the Harmony shop at Guy-Concordia metro station, know that they actually are 100% Portuguese. Natas got über popular in the eastern hemisphere after being introduced in Macau (a former Portuguese territory) – thus the reason why you’ll find them in Asian pastry chops like Harmony. Having shared our last glass with Tristan, we eventually left the Taverne F, satisfied. Unpretentious and simple – think about giving the place’s petiscos menu a try on your next outing to Place-des-arts.
|1485 Rue Jeanne-Mance, Montréal, QC H2X 2J4