Diva #1 grew up running in and out of restaurants, her father always owned restaurants and she always had an uncle or two who had one as well. In the 90s the restaurant business was all about mom and pop restaurants, owned by families, with different generations working in the kitchen and on the floor. The menus were simple, usually geared towards the ethnicity of the family that owned the restaurant, and the décor was minimalist. In the 2000s restaurants became grander, chefs became celebrities, and the emphasis changed from family run restaurants to chef run restaurants.
Toucheh restaurant in Westmount is a nod to the restaurants of yesteryears. It was quite lovely seeing an Iranian (or Persian) family running this cute little Bring Your Own Wine in Westmount. The restaurant is dominantly Italian, with an Iranian table d’hôte on Mondays. Unfortunately there isn’t enough of a demand to have Iranian food all week long. But fret not, their Italian food incorporates Middle Eastern spices and flavours for a type of fusion cuisine. All their dishes come with either a soup or a salad, we had both, the salad had both purple and yellow beets, and the lentil soup was full of Middle Eastern spices and flavours – likely the best lentil soup that we have ever tried!
Toucheh is a BYOW, and since we were invited guests we were spoiled and brought wine that they had picked up for us. We opted to order half plates so that we can try as many dishes as possible. Their Penne Cardinal was a favourite, with chicken and mushrooms in a thick rosé sauce. A classic and simple Italian dish, Toucheh is where you go to enjoy the Italian classics, you will not find tartare or any edgy dishes here. It’s the type of restaurant that you take your parents and grandparents and reminisce about the olden days. The pesto chicken pasta was a special of the night and very aromatic and heavy on the basil, as it should be!
The eggplant parmesan was cooked perfectly and topped with plenty of melted cheese. The scallopini piccata was a chicken cutlet in a lemon and white wine sauce. Light, with hints of citrus, it was a delicious cutlet, served with garlic pasta to enhance the cutlet, not overpower it. When was the last time that you had chicken scallopini at a restaurant? Diva #1 felt like she was ten years old all over again, going out with her family to an Italian restaurant in Montreal in the 90s.
We love mushrooms so the scallopini funghi was a must, with plenty of mushrooms in that same light white wine sauce. This dish and the scallopini piccata were our favourites! We also had the scallopini pizzaiola which was basically a pizza scallopini with a tomato sauce and herbs, but we noticed hints of Middle Eastern spices, Toucheh’s Middle Eastern roots are evident, even in their Italian dishes.
For dessert we were given a taste of Italy and a taste of Iran / Persia with both a tiramisu, and a rice pudding with saffron and cinnamon. Rice pudding always reminds Diva #1 of her grandmother, it was one of those desserts that she would come home from school and find waiting for her as a midday snack. The tiramisu was classically simple, and very tasty – clearly homemade. The family running Toucheh urged us to try their Pesian black tea, flavoured with cardamom, and served with the perfect Middle Eastern tea biscuit. It was a wonderful end to a very interesting meal.
Eating at Toucheh reminds us of the lesson at the end of one of our favourite movies, Ratatouille. When Ego, the food critic eats at Restaurant Gusteau’s, the chef serves a simple peasant dish to the food critic. He serves ratatouille which reduces Ego to a childhood memory of his mother cooking ratatouille. Tears flow as he is brought back to his mother cooking for him. Dining is so much more than the taste, the smell and the décor, it’s the experience which includes bringing you somewhere safe and familiar.
That’s exactly what Toucheh does, it brings you back to the family run businesses of yesteryears in Montreal, it’s simple and safe, and beautiful. We hope that the lovely family running the restaurant gets the opportunity to add more Iranian dishes on their menu, if so, Westmount is in for quite a treat.
Our Rating: Splendid
Tagged: 351 Avenue Prince Albert, bring your own wine, BYOW, Eggplant Parmesan, H3Z 2N9, Iranian Food, Italian Food, lentil soup, Middle Eastern, Middle eastern restaurant, Montreal, Montreal BYOW, Montreal Iranian, Montreal Restaurant, mushroom scallopini, Pasta, Persian Food, Persian tea, rice pudding, Scallopini, Toucheh Montreal, Toucheh Persian, Westmount, Westmount restaurant