Diva #1 said that she wasn’t going to go out. She had a wild Thursday night at the Bow Tie Affair in Old Montreal that ended in the wee hours of the morning at Garde Manger. To make matters worse, Diva #1 worked the next day where she arrived hung over, clutching a cappuccino and droopy eyed. Fast forward to the late afternoon of that same day, Diva #1 was approached by Bellatrix and Whitey to go out again. They had not come out with her the night before therefore they were fresh faced and well rested. Thursday nights are crazy, so Friday nights are usually more chill, in preparation for rather exciting Saturday nights. But Diva #1 can always be coaxed to come out for some wine, food and good times with her friends.
We were craving wine and a more relaxed atmosphere, so Diva #1, Whitey and Bellatrix chose to go to Tavern on the Square. Whitey was already in Westmount visiting her dad, and we had all been there before, so we knew that it was a great atmosphere for a girls’ night. We started our night with a bottle (which soon turned into a few bottles) of French Cabernet Sauvignon. Whitey’s friend eventually showed up and we shared stories of sexual harassment in the office, good times out, wild parties, and men… the usual topics amongst women in their late twenties and early thirties. Sorry Bellatrix, you have crossed over into your thirties.
“Vignes de Nicole (Paul Mas): Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah, Vin de Pays d’Oc, France, 2011” 40$
Bellatrix and Diva #1 started with the soup of the day which was shrimp bisque. Not big soup aficionados, when you hear something as delicious as shrimp bisque on a menu, you indulge. The creamy tomato based soup was rich and the taste of the shrimp was prevalent. Seafood based soups often have filler ingredients like tomatoes or cream to compensate for the lack of seafood. This was not the case with this shrimp bisque that was topped with three little smoky tasting shrimps and some chives. We added some cracked pepper and fell in love with the soup. Sadly Whitey doesn’t eat anything from the water, so she couldn’t try it … *sigh*
Whitey opted for the green salad but thankfully it wasn’t boring. The greens were tossed with toasted pumpkin seeds, clementines, dried cranberries and an apple citrus vinaigrette. The portion of salad was huge, which was great because it enticed Whitey to share, and the vinaigrette tasted like an olive oil and balsamic dressing infused with honey. It was sweet but also tart from the vinegar and a perfect dressing for the greens and fruit. Diva #1 didn’t want to be impressed by a salad but she was, especially when the salad’s sweetness was cut by the salty toasted pumpkin seeds.
Diva #1 and Bellatrix had been craving salmon tartare, a great accompaniment with wine. This was one of the motivations for going to Tavern on the Square; we knew that they had a great salmon tartare. So we ordered the Faroe Island certified organic salmon tartare, we don’t know much about Faroe Island, but it is probably an excuse to add a few dollars to the price of the appetizer. The tartare was layered with avocado at the bottom, and the fish was tossed with lime, coriander and chipotle; a refreshing combination. The portion isn’t large for the price of the appetizer, but it was nonetheless delicious. Bellatrix was upset that the tartare did not come with crostinis but they grilled a few slices of bread for us and drizzled on some olive oil. She was then placated and she remarked on the delicious little chives in the salmon.
Unfortunately Tavern on the Square doesn’t have many intriguing appetizers to choose from, many of them seem rather boring. This keeps us from visiting more often because we usually order the same items each time. On this visit, besides their usual appetizers, their menu had a sheet listing the entrées of the day such as a seafood pancake with kimchee, onion rings, BBQ salmon belly taco with salsa and avocado, and a Diva favourite – ravioli stuffed with chicken livers. But sadly, in our little dinner group of four, only Diva #1 got excited over the innards! Most of the entrées of the day seemed unlike Tavern’s usual fare, they were a little racier and modern, with more of a bar-snack overtone. Maybe we will try them next time, but on this visit we were just in the mood for the classics.
Diva #1 ordered their infamous mac n’ cheese, not made in the usual Southern fashion, this dish is made with a twist. The mac n’ cheese is composed of strong cheeses, which means that you must really enjoy more than just cheddar to order this decadent dish. Comté, Victor & Berfold, Parmesan and Mascarpone cheeses are the creamy fromages that make up the sauce. Stewed and well blended tomatoes are added to the sauce to add a touch of rosé, but it is no way a tomato sauce. Other than at Tavern on the Square, we have never seen tomato as an addition in mac n’ cheese. The pasta was al dente and the pancetta added a good amount of crunch and saltiness. Our only complaint is that every time we have tried this dish, the black truffle purée is never evident, and for the price of the pasta dish, it should be.
Bellatrix ordered the ziti con funghi pasta with assorted mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach, garlic, olive oil and parmesan, based on the fact that porcini stock was being used as a foundation for this pasta. When do you see porcini stock in a dish’s description? The mushrooms were of a mixed variety, very flavourful , and the porcini stock ensured that every bite of pasta, taken with or without mushrooms, was infused with mushroom flavour. The spinach was a nice addition and the dish very enjoyable.
Whitey was cajoled into ordering one of the specials of the night. It sounded delicious but Diva #1 really wanted mac n’ cheese so she leaned on Whitey a bit. The pasta of the night was a house made papardelle with pesto and mozzarella di buffalo. The papardelle noodles were huge and delicious, the sauce was a light pesto so it was not overpowering and everything was very fresh tasting. Mushrooms were tossed in the dish and creamy mozzarella di buffala. Granted there could have been a more generous amount of cheese, but it was a great combination of flavours that made for a nice meal. Even Whitey, the pickiest eater that we know, was pleased.
We knew that we wanted their infamous chocolate chip bread pudding for dessert. It arrived on the table warm and decadent, and no matter how stuffed we are we never regret ordering this for dessert.
In the past we have had the tuna burger with Asian spices and spicy mayo but it wasn’t amazing. And we don’t know how we haven’t ordered the lamb shoulder stuffed with figs, dates and onions with a chickpea purée, or the roasted chicken breast with sourdough stuffing, and wild mushrooms, cheddar and sausage. We have to start getting adventurous and trying new things at Tavern on the Square. They also have a lunch menu with duck confit and grapefruit, steak sandwich and a variety of burgers with different toppings. Though they have main dishes that sound interesting, they need to work on their appetizers which are somewhat boring. Nonetheless Tavern on the Square is a nice place for a quieter night out filled with wine and good food.
Our Review: Splendid
Tagged: 1 Westmount Sq, bistro, Black Angus Burger, Calamari, Chicken, Cocktails, Duck Confit, Faroe Island, French, H3Z 2P9, Hanger Steak, Lamb Shoulder, Lunch Menu, Mac n' Cheese, Meatballs, Montreal, Mushrooms, oysters, Reservations Needed, Salad, Salmon, Salmon Tartare, Seafood Pancake, Shrimp, Shrimp Bisque, Splendid, St-Catherine, Steak Sandwich, Taco, Tavern, Tavern on the Square, Tavern on the Square Montreal, Tavern on the Square Westmount, Taverne sur le Square, terrace, Tuna Burger, Westmount, Westmount Square, wine, Ziti con Funghi