We went to Fino as a hasty last minute plan when other plans had failed. We had tried to go once before but we went on the weekend when it is only open for dinner. We had heard about it because it seems to have it all: private dining hall for parties, terrace, large dining area and lunch counter. It was a beautiful night and we really wanted to eat on a terrace. Unfortunately many places in Montreal do not allow you to make a reservation on a terrace but Fino was very accommodating. Fino is very modern, adorned in chandeliers and low lighting; very chic.
On this particular Thursday night the restaurant seemed empty, but that is because the terrace was completely full . It was beautiful, nestled between an architecturally 40s styled apartment building and the Fino restaurant. Fino’s courtyard terrace is well worth the visit. It is covered by a white tent meaning that during a light rain, the courtyard would be even more enchanting. The theme seems to be France’s Versailles, with hedges and images of marble statues decorating our surroundings. The glass apartment doors that lead into the lobby look onto Sherbrooke street beyond and you feel like you have disappeared into a private world right in the center of downtown Montreal. The music was low and the ambiance relaxing. We were served a crusty bread with good quality extra virgin olive oil, the EVOO is of a higher caliber when you do not require balsamic vinegar to accompany the oil.
The wine list was extensive but it was a hot day so we opted for a cool white wine. Kim Crawford is a classic good choice and it was not over priced, and well appreciated on a hot summer day. The service was relaxed, we did not feel rushed and though there was a party right next to us it did not get too loud.
This restaurant has a very Italian menu with a French flair. The appetizers range from 14$ – 18$ and we had the salmon tartare to start, endives cupped the tartare that was glazed with a balsamic reduction and topped with edible flowers. Our only regret was that the menu stated that the salmon tartare was in an avocado bowl which we thought meant a pitted avocado, not a bowl shaped like an avocado. The portion was well sized, perfect for two! The citrus aioli was not heavy and did not take away from the taste of the fish which is very important in creating a tartare dish.
Entrées range from 21$ – 45$. Diva #2 had the pappardelle with rabbit ragout and Fino stayed true to the Italian fashion of enjoying a huge plate of pasta. The rabbit was tender and pulled apart in a pulled pork sort of way. The sauce was made of the juices of the rabbit meat and if that was not enough, the dish also had pancetta. It is horrible when a menu lists an ingredient but is then almost non existent on your plate. Thankfully Fino cannot be accused of this because the pancetta was plentiful and crispy. This delicious dish was on a large rectangular plate and Kalamata olives and mushrooms were also tossed in for flavour. If the dish was not rich enough, the mushrooms were not your typical variety but chanterelles.
Diva #1 had a mushroom filet mignon risotto with truffle oil. This dish had sounded amazing but when the waitress said the filet mignon was well done, without any chance of making it rare, the divas were skeptical. We love our meat rare (sometimes alive) but the dish sounded too exciting to pass up. The filet mignon was tender, the wild mushrooms fresh and flavourful (if a mushroom is dried and not fresh you can taste it right away) and it was covered with parmigiano shavings. Mmmm truffle oil should be part of every dish but for someone who does not like the peculiarities of truffle oil, it did not overpower the risotto, it was exceptional. As always the divas ate everything!
Although we were full, we could not pass up the opportunity to try their dessert. We ordered the key lime cheesecake with grated citrus and raspberry coulis. One diva has had key lime cheesecake in Florida so sometimes she could be (and rightfully so) a key lime snob but this was light, creamy and filled with key lime juice. One of the divas ordered a cappuccino due to an unhealthy addiction to espresso. Usually there is not much to be said about a high end restaurant’s coffee other than well it is good, but we were impressed by the large mug that the cappuccino was served in.
All in all, Fino has quickly become a favourite amongst our Italian haunts. The owners of Fino also own the Madison Hall in the east end which is known for their good food – we just didn’t know how good! We left planning our next visit to this restaurant, especially to try out their lunch counter which has earned a great reputation for its tasty Italian delicacies.
Our Rating: Always on Thursdays