There is something about celebrating a birthday that brings out the best and worst in The Divas and their friends.
The day started out innocently with an Easter egg hunt at work that Diva #2 had set up for Diva #1. The good mood and extra energy carried on to the usual pre-drinks with Sweet Pea and the Foodie Guys who were only staying for a “quick drink” because they wanted to watch the hockey game. Well, after expertly made G&T’s by Diva #2 and the free pouring of Booker’s bourbon by Diva #1, soon sweaters were being stolen from P’tit Frère, and drivers were being decided; the girls won, and the boys were coming to dinner to celebrate Sweet Pea’s birthday. It also didn’t hurt that all three ladies were looking devilishly delicious either…and the plotting continued.
Our dearest Sensei was tasked with picking up P’tit Soeur, mostly due to the fact that we kept drinking and moving back our reservation. Pickled octopus and spanakopita were soon brought out at Diva #1’s, and we drank on. In Sweet Pea’s defense, she is more like the angel on his right shoulder while The Divas are the devils on the left. A fine balance that keeps Sensei’s stigmata somewhat under control though we recently discovered he may actually suffer from Hematidrosis. Poor, poor Sensei.
We arrived at Barroco in Old Montreal, the sister restaurant of Bocata. The cobblestone streets of St. Paul West did nothing for our heels but we were sufficiently inebriated so we didn’t care. The restaurant was dimly lit giving off a romantic vibe, with French scenes on the wallpaper, a mounted boar’s head on the wall and white stools lining the very 1930’s-like bar. Before starting on the wine, we deviated from our usual Hendrick’s tonic and went with a Citadel tonic, at the suggestion of one of the Foodie Guys. We don’t usually listen to people but again, we were sufficiently high-with-life to go along with anything. And we were happy too; the taste was clean and crisp. Hendrick’s now has competition!
P’tit Soeur swore she had met someone (she probably slept with him) who was working at Barroco and she asked our waitress if he was working. As it turns out, he was and was kind enough to send over a potent little dish with pineapple granita and a generous dousing of rum to the entire table.
Of course, like all birthday celebrations, we started with two dozen oysters, half Raspberry Point and half Onset Bay. Served with a bottle of Tabasco, lemon wedges and two condiments, a raspberry vinaigrette and a sesame ginger topping, the oysters were plump and salty, as they should be.
The Divas and Sweet Pea shared an appetizer and chose the maple poached foie gras. The maple was subtle and the foie gras was velvety. It was served with a wedge of confit orange and sweet marmalade as well as a small mound of salt and pepper, so we could decide to add as much or as little seasoning as we liked. The Divas love being in control! We don’t mind being dominated, but never controlled. The presentation was a bit sad looking but the taste of the foie gras was divine.
Our Sensei was enjoying a night without much harassment from his favourite ladies, the table next to us on a date was wishing we would take our noise level down a few octaves, especially when Diva #1 and one of the Foodie Guys loudly considered hitting on the frightened couple. Most importantly, Sweet Pea looked like she was truly enjoying her birthday, despite the many last minute dropouts.
The ribsteak was presented on a wooden cutting board, the generous piece of meat was served with plenty of delicious chimichurri sauce and was cooked as requested. It came with a choice of a side of either mashed potatoes, garlic rapini or sautéed wild mushrooms.
The dish of the day was an arctic char on a bed of caponata pie with fiddlehead ferns and asparagus. The fish was cooked perfectly and contrasted with the flaky puff pastry and crisp asparagus. A touch of acidity to compliment the fattiness of the arctic char would have set the dish over the top.
The fish dishes continued with the roasted black cod. The fish was tender, flaky and well-seasoned and the crust was crispy. It was served with clams and confit tomatoes which added a nice hit of mellow acidity and paired well with the richness of the beurre blanc. Diva #1 really enjoyed the clams in this dish, they tasted very fresh, like the sea and it was one of the few things that she remembered in the morning.
We couldn’t go to a Spanish-inspired restaurant and not have the paella. We of course added the lobster option and the portion of seafood was more than generous – it’s definitely not a dish for those with seafood allergies! It had a little bit of spice coming from the chorizo and great flavour coming from the crispy grains of rice that are typical in a paella, as well as the wondrous addition of morcilla, a Spanish type of blood sausage. All the seafood was cooked perfectly and the flavours were well balanced. This was our favourite main dish of the night, no comparison can be made and if you go to Barroco you have to order it.
At this point of the night, sufficiently inebriated was an understatement for some. Luckily, Diva #2 still had some wits about her and ordered dessert for Sweet Pea’s birthday, complete with sparklers. Diva #1 is an awful bestie, she was too busy socializing and drinking to remember why we were out celebrating. Not knowing which of the two to choose, both the profiteroles and the apple tatin were ordered. Three to a serving, the profiteroles were the standard fare, vanilla ice cream sandwiched between a light and airy puff pastry and covered in chocolate sauce. The apple tatin left much to be desired in terms of presentation but overall, it was satisfying.
We enjoyed Barroco – the atmosphere was subdued though we were anything but, the food delicious and it was cozy. The eating portion of the evening was complete and we headed to our favourite late night spot, Flyjin, to continue the party with more drinking and dancing. We were joined by more friends, a Cousin and Haitian immigrant. Unfortunately Sensei left us because he had an early morning yoga class (or he was scared); he likes to keep limber for the ladies. We stayed till almost closing and the night ended at Diva #1’s house in the wee hours of the morning. In the end, it’s safe to say that Diva #1 secured her soccer team’s defensive line, Diva #2 unknowingly helped secure the midfield, but most importantly, Sweet Pea had a wonderful birthday though she spent the following day hugging the toilet! Happy Birthday Sweet Pea, or should we say…happy engagement…but that’s a story for another time.
Our Rating: As Expected
Tagged: 312 Rue Saint-Paul West, Angus Beef, Apple Tatin, Arctic Char, Barroco, Barroco Montreal, Barroco Old Montreal, Barroco Saint-Paul, Black Cod, Citadel Gin, Cocktails, H2Y 2A3, Maple Poached Foie Gras, Montreal, Montreal Food, Montreal Restaurant, Old Montreal, Old Montreal Restaurant, Old Port, oysters, Paella, Profiteroles, Reservations Needed, Ribsteak, Seafood