The Divas have been meaning to visit Notkins Oyster Bar since it opened, after all, it’s an oyster bar and we adore oysters! Opened by Daniel Notkin, founder of Montreal’s famed Montreal Oysterfest, Notkins restaurant delivers quality, sustainable seafood and an oyster bar in the heart of the city.
Diva #2’s Colorado cousin was visiting with her bestie from Pennsylvania, the perfect excuse to book a table at a restaurant that we’ve been meaning to visit. Joined by The Firm, we took our seats on the second floor, overlooking the oyster bar that Diva #2 would have happily sat at all night long!
We started with a couple of appetizers to go along with our cocktails and wine. The oysters Rockefeller were simply divine! The traditional oyster Rockefeller smothers the oysters in a béchamel sauce of sorts, it is then topped with various greens including spinach and parsley, and then breadcrumbs before being baked or broiled. At Notkins, they keep part of the tradition alive by using spinach but they up the ante by using a Mornay sauce which gives it a velvety texture. This makes the traditional oyster Rockefeller richer and creamier, and the oyster itself remains plump. Absolute perfection!
The kale salad was a nice light salad with a garlicky Caesar dressing that clung to the kale leaves. The fried clams were crunchy and not at all greasy. Everything was well balanced despite the strong (and salty) flavours of the anchovies, lardons and parmesan cheese.
While waiting for our mains and polishing off the wine, Diva #2’s cousin and bestie told Diva #2 and the Firm stories of their days working together in a Mad Men-esque environment. Identifying with the characters of Jane and Peggy the most, and the office shenanigans that used to take place back-in-the-day. It’s very possible that trouble runs in the family for Diva #2!
The salmon à la plancha was a perfectly light dish; it’s always a great way to prepare salmon. Paired with white beans in a thick sauce, the fennel and cucumber salad was a great side to keep things light. The fish was pink and moist, and the lemon yogurt sauce added a touch of brightness that paired well with the beans’ sauce.
When our waiter described the special of the night, it was too hard to pass up. Yellowfin tuna, cooked medium rare, was served with ratatouille. Though the dish sounds simple, there was an abundance of ingredients that came together to make it a great dish. The tuna was a deep red colour with a hard sear to create a nice crust; a knife was hardly necessary to cut it. The ratatouille was tangy and fresh and the chanterelles, which were in season, added a nice earthy element.
The fish tacos were served in soft tortillas and the coating on the fish was very crunchy but the cod itself still remained delicately moist and flaky. The cilantro guacamole was creamy and the coleslaw added great colour and textures to each bite.
Diva #2 wanted oysters for dessert but the rest of the table wasn’t sold. Instead everyone settled on two out of the three desserts that were offered. The pound cake was a little dry and could have used more lemon curd, but the blueberry compote was delicious.
We loved the maple pot-de-crème, it was topped with almond praline and sea buckthorn berries that burst in your mouth and released a tart flavour. The pot-de-crème was exceptionally smooth and it offered the perfect amount of maple. Definitely worth ordering if you have room for dessert! But Diva #2 still wishes that they had also ordered a dozen oysters…
Open until 3 am with a late night menu, Notkins is worth the visit if you love seafood. Everything is fresh, the service is friendly and helpful, and you can rest assured the Divas will be back to eat our weight in oysters!
Our Rating: Splendid
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