When we’re making plans to go out and I hear someone suggest tapas, I get really excited. There’s just something about sharing various plates of food and drinks with family, friends or business associates, in a “casual and cozy“ environment and Barraca is one restaurant that certainly delivers.
We were invited to la Tournée Mixo-Gastronomique (TMG) to sample a Spanish-flare four-course tasting menu along with cocktail pairings crafted by a truly talented Mixologist. The beauty of TMG is the opportunity to discover a new restaurant showcased monthly. Imagine, a well thought out tasting menu accompanied by the perfect drink paired to each course (all for $55); it doesn’t get much better than that.
Barraca is a Latin inspired rum and tapas bar in the Plateau boasting over 50 types of rum. We knew we were in for a rum soaked evening. The distressed red tin ceiling tiles on the wall, the sultry lighting and the high tables that run along the lengths of the narrow bar almost makes you feel like you are in a local bar in Cuba. The abundant greenery looming over the quaint and sunny patio makes you feel like you’ve been transported to a vacation haven. The first course consisted of a tapas trio composed of the Pan Con Tomate, the MTL bagel and the Coquillage. The Pan Con Tomate’s translation is bread with tomato. Fairly self-explanatory, the sweetness of the toasted bread and the acidity of the roasted tomato and olive topping married well. The Coquillage was a single scallop in a saffron butter sauce served in a shell. It was reminiscent of a coquilles St-Jacques but with a Spanish twist. Considering the famous St-Viateur Bagel shop has a location right across the street from Barraca, I was excited about the MTL bagel. We take our bagels very seriously in Montreal and I was very pleased with this version of the “Salmon and Cream Cheese Classic”. The gravlax is cured in rum and the cream cheese is replaced with goat cheese, then topped with a pear garnish; a nice twist on a classic without being sacrilegious. Dark & Stormys are my absolute favourite summer drink so I was happy to try their version, the Omar & Stormy. It featured Brugal rum as well as Velvet Falhernum, which added an aromatic Island twist to the ginger’s bite.
Our 2nd course duo plate consisted of Grilled Skewered Dates stuffed with chorizo and wrapped in lardon, served on an quartered orange. They also served albondigas as part of the second course. These meatballs were simmered in a tomato and Spanish paprika sauce. This course was accompanied by “La Boule et la Prune”, a take on a whisky sour. It was so nice to have the tart sweetness of the plum puree bring the sour tang to this drink instead of your typical foul sour bar mix. It offset the richness of the meat perfectly.
The third course was a Mackerel Escabèche, Poached Fish served in a citrus and sherry vinegar marinade. It was served with a lovely arugula and asparagus salad. The Brugalini is a rum inspired take on a Manhattan. This drink featured sherry and was infused with thyme and lemon zest, which produced complex sweet after-tones.
The next course was a great Creole classic with a Guyanese twist, the pork Colombo. This Caribbean pork curry had comforting spiciness that worked really well with the richness of the pork. The Ti-Punch was definitely a sweet and refreshing relief from the kick of the Colombo.
Barraca did a tremendous job of producing so much food out of their very small back bar kitchen. Even though I felt that the wait staff was a bit overwhelmed, it was a really great evening. The portions were great, the food was interesting, the drink pairings were perfect and the music was awesome. What more can you ask for?We are really looking forward to the next edition of TMG that will be taking place at Brama on July 31st.
*PICTURES FROM JPC PHOTO*