The Divas were lucky enough to take part in the taping of one of the episodes of a new show with Chuck Hughes and Anne-Marie Withenshaw called À Couteaux Tirés. One of the chefs competing on this particular episode was Marie-Fleur St-Pierre of Tapeo, one of our favourite Montreal restaurants. After the taping of the show we were reminded how much we loved this particular Chef and we scorned ourselves for not having tried her new venture, Mesón, so we started planning our dinner.
We made our way to Méson on Villeray, near our beloved Tapeo. We were happy to see that Marie-Fleur was front and center in the open kitchen; it simply added to the experience. We quickly started scanning our menus while Zeus took care of choosing the wine. We made a list on our phone of what we wanted to eat and handed it over to our server when it was time to order. We do this a lot, it just makes life easier for everyone! The first thing that we noticed was how the restaurant was so dark, there is dimly lit and then there is dark, it was a bit odd.
We love tapas and sharing so we started with a few plates. The scallop ceviche was meaty, fresh and the natural sweetness was enhanced with the addition of vanilla and ripe nectarine slices. A great combination, and definitely a favourite of the night.
The Divas were joined by some of their faves – the Artist, who needed to be filled in on all the things she’s missed, one of the Cousins, who’s still holding on to hope of scoring with someone in the group, our dear Sensei who was late for once, and Zeus, who graced our presence after being M.I.A for a while, though, let’s be honest, no one stays away for long,
Continuing with the fish, we had the tuna tartare, served with a must-have tapas of pan con tomate. Also very fresh, the tuna was cut into thick cubes, well-seasoned and nicely paired with the thick bread.
Our two favourite tapas were the croquettes and the black sausage pogos. The croquettes were made with Serrano ham and béchamel; how could you possible go wrong?! Covered in a very light coating of breadcrumbs, the croquettes were rich and salty. Simple yet perfect bites that were great on their own, or enhanced with a dab of the spicy chimichurri that came with it. We were in heaven!
While The Divas like the finer things in life, we don’t hide our love for pogos and when we saw this on the menu, we had to have it. Made with black sausage and plenty of it, the batter was light, crispy and airy. Sensei wasn’t sure if this tapas would be impressive but he was wrong, as usual! The pogo came with a side of quince mustard that was a great combination of tangy and sweet. Even the crunchy coleslaw added a great vinegary bite.
We also ordered one of Mesón’s cocas, a traditional Catalan dish, a flatbread that can be topped with varied ingredients. We chose the combination of sardines, peppers and egg yolk. The bread was delicious and slightly puffed, the sardines were meaty, the red peppers added a little sweetness to balance the saltiness of the sardines, and the egg yolk added a level of richness to the dish. As we were eating the coca we were saying that if we had room we would try another type of coca.
By now, we were on bottle of wine number two and Mr. Sheffield joined us. We’re constantly collecting friends along the way. And we were also getting loud, and we quickly filled Zeus in on Sensei’s demands from the ladies in the bedroom. The Cousin wisely stood his ground and sided with the ladies (he really wants to get laid), and Zeus agreed with the Divas. Poor Sensei was yelled at once again, while the men at the table simply shook their heads while he tried to justify himself.
Our mains were next and we ordered a lot. We had the lamb shank with lemon polenta and turnips. The meat was tender, the polenta was creamy though the lemon didn’t come through as much as we had hoped. The polenta absorbed the lamb juices and was a lovely creamy side dish. Diva #1 was lucky enough to nab the lamb shank bone and suck it dry of its marrow! Always a lady!
The trout was cooked perfectly, its pink hue contrasting with the vibrant green asparagus sauce. We didn’t choose this dish because we find trout to be a boring fish (ahem, Sensei). It was served with a mild cauliflower purée. The dish was light and the purée was creamy and tasty. We wouldn’t order this because we’re accustomed to multi dimensionality in Chef St-Pierre’s dishes, and this one was lacking.
The seafood brochette was filled with plump shrimp, calamari tentacles and scallops with red peppers and onions in between. The seafood was cooked perfectly and it sat on a bed of saffron rice but in a pool of crab sauce. The sauce added an extra layer of seafood flavour to an already full plate.
Always adventurous eaters, we are always drawn to the more interesting dishes on a menu. We loved Mesón’s unique take on fish and chips. The batter was stained with squid ink and the fish inside the crispy batter was flaky and tender. The taste of vinegar was also evident and the perfect amount to enhance the dish. It sat on a pile of potatoes and it was all served with crisp wax beans and a side of tartar sauce. Definitely a gourmet fish n’ chips!
Fideos means noodles and they were mixed in the mac n’ cheese dish. The whole dish was rich, savory, salty and full of mixed Spanish cheeses, Manchego cheese being one of our favourites, all perfectly melted. There were coins of fried, crispy chorizo on top, the red oils seeping into the dish, adding a whole dimension of smokey flavour.
We continued with our stories, comparing bad decisions, informing Zeus he may become our emergency contact number, all while Sensei shook his head and wondered why people let us out. He plays hard to get but he is fond of us! Dessert was next and we tried every single one! Even Zeus, who doesn’t have a sweet tooth, ordered his own dessert.
The chocolate cake was basic, what you would expect but a generous piece. The cheesecake was light, tart and dense, with a crumbly crust that was topped with fresh blueberries. It was one of the best cheesecakes that we had ever tasted, it was so creamy and the cheesy taste was different from your usual cheesecake.
The pear tart was light, not overly sweet and wrapped in a flaky pastry and draped in a cream sauce. The lovely nougat éclair had raspberries inside the puff pastry, and the creamy filling was smooth with a hint of coffee.
The coffee flan was topped with raspberries for a pop of colour and tartness. It was very light, the taste of coffee was not overwhelming and it sat in a small pool of caramel sauce.
Our night came to a satisfying end; the food was delicious, the service attentive and the atmosphere was great. Méson is a great place to indulge in fresh seafood and authentic Spanish cuisine. As we headed home, no one left with the person they came with – the Artist insisted Mr. Sheffield drive her home, Diva #1 headed home with the Cousin to wait for Mr. Sheffield for some late night wandering, Zeus gave Diva #2 a lift and poor, poor Sensei went home alone.
Our Rating: Splendid
Tagged: 345 Rue Villeray, À Couteaux Tirés, Black Sausage Pogo, Cheesecake, Chocolate Cake, Cocas, Coffee Flan, Dessert, Fideos, Fish n’ Chips, H2R 1G8, Lamb Shank, Mac n' Cheese, Marie-Fleur St-Pierre, Marie-Fleur St-Pierre Mesón, Mesón, Mesón Montreal, Montreal Food, Montreal Restaurant, Nougat Éclair, Pear Tart, Reservations Needed, Scallop Ceviche, Seafood Brochette, Serrano and Bechamel Croquettes, Spanish, tapas, Trout, Tuna Tartare, Villeray, wine