(MONTREAL, QC) – Ferreira Café is one of Montreal’s top dining spots and has held that reputation, not only amongst its patrons but also amongst some great Canadian chefs. It’s elegant and high end, and you should expect une factuer close to $200 for dinner with a bottle of wine.
The Groupe Ferreira also owns Café Vasco de Gama, which I like to think of hipsters with cash lunch place, and Taverne F. Taverne F is more relaxed and exudes more of a genuine feel of warmth and hospitality. Diners are casually dressed.
While Ferreira Café and Taverne F both serve Portuguese food, the latter specializes in Petiscos, which are in essence substantial Portuguese Tapas. Their menu is structured with Petiscos to Start, Petiscos to Follow, Petiscos to Complete, and Petiscos for A Good Finish.
With 30 Petiscos from which to select there is something for everyone. And, of course, video screens on the wall show the kitchen in action.
Taverne F is a stone’s throw away from Place Des Arts and is busiest before shows, usually between 5 and 7 is hectic, but after 8 the pace cools. As the locals say, it is in the Quartier des Spectacles (Show District).
The buzz is happy. Diners are clearly enjoying themselves in a boisterous Quebecois fashion. Given the impeccable service, delicious food, and warm hospitality, this happy buzz is fully understandable. Relaxing techno music purrs in the background with strings of carnival lights providing the overhead lighting.
Taverne F is on Jeanne-Mance, in what seems to be a very well country-styled portable, right on the sidewalk. So, for action, you have views of street life on both sides of the restaurant. Strange “light therapy slides” are upping and downing across the street.
Each of our Petiscos was right-on delicious and wines recommended by our server complimented them perfectly. Portuguese wines with Portuguese foods … is there any other choice?
The floors and tables are of weather beaten wood. Windows abound. A claustrophobe’s delight.
The walls are black and white sketches. A well stocked bar is at the entrance to the taverne. Speaking of a bar, the emphasis on the wine list is of course Portuguese and seven wines are available by the glass, with four sparklers, 20 reds, 17 whites, and two rosés.
There is also an interesting selection of Ports, Whiskeys, and Bourbon.
As a Petiscos starter, I go with a $12 “Sardinhas” (sardines). Sardines are definitely fishy, but when treated properly on the grill they are a work of God.
Over the years of visiting Portugal and grilling at home, I have had enough sardines to make any cardiologist proud. However, this time they were served not in their naked beauty but with pickled vegetables, a green olive coulis, and croutons. Odd, novel, and very tasty.
My photographer went with a very tender, tasty, and smokey grilled Chorizo sausage served on a coco bean puree, with chips and arugula. With some red wine from Alentajo this Chouriço Grelhado at $9 is enough to send you to the beyond with a big smile on your face. The wine gives the sausage a long finish.
The homemade French fries have a delightful, well cooked, but slightly limp, texture that just keeps you wanting more. Quebec and Taverne F certainly know its Batata Fritas at $6.
Surprisingly, the Chef appears with a couple non menu items. The rissoles, which are crispy meat cakes, have a delightful burning slide down the palate, snuffed out by some red wine. The shrimp empanadas descend the hatch, perfectly composed and moist, with some super sauce. Thank you Chef.
For the main Petiscos, I have the Bacalhau Á Taverna F, which is cod served with a straw potato brandade and vegetables confit. So well done even in Portugal or the more upscale Café Ferreira could not beat this version at $16.
My photographer had a smokey and delicious Polvo À Lagareiro, a mind blowing octopus confit in rosemary and garlic infused olive oil with rapini and potatoes at $16.
Of course, ordinarily you are at the point where suddenly a combo dessert platter appears and, like a decadent Bismarck, you are sunk until a glass of Tawny Port is brought to accompany the desserts.
The Port melts into the rich decadent Salame which is a chocolate and cookie wonder with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce; $9.
The Tawny Port also accentuates the most famous Pastéis de Nata which is a tart of custard, cinnamon, and caramel sauce. In fact, Tawny Port blesses any egg based dessert. The last desert is a rich, coarse and moist Torta de Améndoa, seemingly honey soaked and begging for a Moscatel, from Setubal in Portugal.
In short, an unusual absolutely perfect meal in a hip rustic setting away from the hustle and bustle of more sterile dining in the downtown Montreal core. Off the fringe, but just two metro stops from Peel, and you are there.
The gem in the Groupe Ferreira for authenticity, warmth, quality, and true Portuguese hospitality.
(Taverne F Portugaise, 1485 Rue Jeanne-Mance, Montreal, Quebec, H2X 2J4, telephone 514-269-4558, website)