***Sadly this Restaurant is Closed***
Commerce Gastrobar sorta snuck up on us, there was not the usual hype that surrounds an opening but when you are part of the MTL Cuisine group, the name carries a solid reputation. A few photos on instagram showed us the progress of the construction, and we were intrigued to see what this new spot on McGill, in Old Montreal, would bring to that restaurant filled street. The Divas went to Commerce Gastrobar’s media event with Sensei and Sweet Pea. Packed to the rafters, we found solace on their second floor.
The look is very modern, Edison chandeliers are quite the hit, custom made, decorated the ceilings. With a large bar in the center of the first floor, Commerce Gastrobar is a gastronomic pub, meaning gourmet bar food which is all the rage in Montreal. We were quite happy to see Chef Adam Zaitouni, former executive chef at Grinder, and current executive chef at Vicolo working in the kitchen. This guy seems to be everywhere these days, there isn’t a restaurant opening in Montreal that he isn’t dabbling in.
Our favourite of the night was the steam bun; Sensei was particularly excited around these buns. Pork with pickled onions and a light coating of BBQ sauce made up these mini steam buns. They were delicious and perfectly bite size, we kept grabbing them as they went by on trays. Sadly we don’t yet have the full Commerce Gastrobar menu so we aren’t sure if these little guys will be minis on the menu or full steam buns. Either way, they’re a must-have dish!
Game meat is all the craze and the Divas love their meat wild and carefree… like their men! The deer carpaccio was absolutely delightful, thinly sliced with a dollop with what must have been aioli and a shaved sliver of parmigiano. All of this sat on pieces of pumpernickel toast, offered canapé style at the opening event. A generous amount of gorgeous red meat, the deer carpaccio at Commerce Gastrobar was quite a treat.
Our least favourite bite of the night was the tuna gravlax, beautifully presented on spoons of crème fraîche with an avocado purée. Decorated with dill and a sliver of a radish, the taste of the crème fraîche dominated the tuna gravlax. Salmon tartare was also served as a capané. We much preferred the salmon tartare with fennel cream, so much so that we never bothered to take a picture because we were too busy wolfing it down.
We were quite pleased with the canapés which are often hit or miss at a food event, often served cold they can get boring, but this was not the case at Commerce Gastrobar. Venison tartare on a crostini was passed around and we absolutely salivated at the thought. Rich game meat that was lightly seasoned to enhance the dominant flavour of the meat. The crostini was perfectly crispy to add a textural element to the tender meat. It was lovely and we couldn’t get enough of this treat.
Little ornate plates came out of the kitchen, and if you haven’t guessed, we planted ourselves by the kitchen’s doors ensuring that we got to try everything. We are gluttons first and food bloggers seconds, both of these roles go hand in hand. We would send Sensei for gin and tonics as we stalked the kitchen staff. The striped bass croquettes arrived displayed in a bowl on swirls of tartare sauce with bruschetta-like elements and fresh herbs. The sauce was delicious, the fish croquettes only lightly fried and the melding of flavours quite scrumptious.
Oysters at an opening event are cheating! But the kind of cheating that we love. We adore them, actually we can’t eat enough but it doesn’t really demonstrate a chef’s cooking ability. Lucky Lime and Raspberry Point oysters came out of the kitchen quite frequently; they were the perfect palate cleanser.
Stacked canapés with pumpernickel bread, tomato, an olive tapenade that was quite strong and burrata was also enjoyed by the Divas, Sweet Pea and Sensei. There was a lot of variety and we enjoyed our first experience at Commerce Gastrobar.
Two desserts came out of the kitchen but sadly we only stole a picture of one. We were full and lazy, and couldn’t be bothered at this point! They say that the best nights are the ones that you forget to take pictures of, we couldn’t agree more. One of the desserts was a mini pumpkin pie that was spicy and delicious. The second was quite innovative, white chocolate mousse, deconstructed cake, mint and sour grapefruit, which made up for the sweetness of the white chocolate. It was a very summery dessert and we loved it.
We will be returning to Commerce Gastrobar for a sit down meal in the near future. We hate rating events when we just ate a few canapés but we have a good feeling about this spot. With superstars like Martin Juneau, Adam Zaitouni and Jorge da Silva Jr behind this endeavour, we expect great eats and a good time.
Tagged: 500 McGill, Adam Zaitouni, Commerce Gastrobar, Commerce Gastrobar Jorge Jr, Commerce Gastrobar Montreal, Deer Carpaccio, H2Y 2H6, Jorge Jr, Martin Juneau, Montreal, Montreal Bar, Montreal Restaurant, MTL Cuisine, Old Montreal, Old Montreal Restaurant, Old Port, oysters, Pork Steam Bun, Tuna Gravlax, Venison Tartare