Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Quebec (inc. Montreal) >
Jun 12, 2008 03:21 PM

For those that love Pintxo...

I absolutely adore Pintxo. At the moment, it is my favorite restaurant in Montreal. If I were looking for similar restaurants, where should I go?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Rumi :) (original location, I don't love the new one on St-Laurent even close to as much) - oh and this is in terms of vibe/feel - it's not similar cuisine in the least.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Abendschein

      Abendschein, I don't understand the connection between Rumi and Pintxo? Why would you suggest that it is similar? Rumi has an ultra-casual, neighbourhood hippy/zen vibe that makes Pintxo look like a mega-fine dining establishment.

      Afoodyear, I am with you--Pintxo is definitely one of my faves. Check out L'atelier Although not at all Basque or tapas, they serve small portions and use exciting combinations of amazing ingredients. The dining room has a similar feel as Pintxo, too.

      1. re: foodismyfriend

        Mostly, I simply love both. But, for a more detailed explanation of why I find them similar...

        Both Pinxto and Rumi:

        - feature service which is friendly, casual and yet very professional
        - offer a culinary experience which feels entirely authentic, and of cuisines which are not frequently found in Montreal
        - provide an atmosphere which is unpretentious and relaxed
        - serve very good quality food , that is quite healthy, at what I consider reasonable prices
        - are places that whenever I bring friends, they love the experience
        - left me feeling, after my first visit, like I'd discovered a great secret.

        Et voila. I live essentially around the corner from Pinxto, so I also consider it to have a neighbourhood feel. Yes, it's slightly more chic-looking than Rumi, but I find it a very casual elegance, lacking in formality... and that's a good thing. Let's not forget that Rumi's neighbourhood is indeed Laurier/ Outremont, arguably one of the most chi-chi hoods in town. I generally find the clientele at both restaurants to be quite comparable, although maybe they dress up a little more at Pinxto.

        1. re: Abendschein

          Fair enough! I am not a huge Rumi fan, but I know a lot of people love the place, and all of the things you list are certainly common to both restos. Lucky you to live in the Pinxto hood!

          1. re: foodismyfriend

            While I quite enjoyed the food the one time I ate there a year or so ago, my main complaint about Pinxto is that the atmosphere is the opposite of what a Basque tapas place should be. I haven't yet had the good fortune to visit a tapas bar in San Sebastian but I've eaten my way across many of Barcelona's Basque tapas bars.

            I was hoping for a lively atmosphere where you crowd around, trying to grab something off whatever tray the servers have just brought out of the kitchen and your bill is based on how many little plates or toothpicks are piled up in front of you. It just seems contradictory to me to be sitting down in a more chic atmosphere.

    2. While you'd have to kick your budget up a notch, Montée de Lait has a similar aesthetic: delicious small plates served in an intimate atmosphere. Great wines, too. The even tinier Bistro Bienville also hoes that row: small dishes plus a few larger dishes meant to be shared by two.

      Wine bars are another possibility. Foodwise, my two favourites are Bouchonné and Pop!

      It's also pretty easy to make a meal out of Réservoir's snacks (just noticed they have an authentic-sounding flammkuchen!), though the atmosphere isn't very Pintxo-like.

      5 Replies
      1. re: carswell

        I am a big fan of Pintxo (how to pronounce it?) and was recently introduced to Bouchonné by some of the Chowhounds here. I definitely agree that it should be next on your list of places to check out. Excellent, interesting morsels of thoughtful food.

        1. re: Plateaumaman

          It is pronounced Pint-cho

          I would also add to the list of wine bars Pullman - a seminal establishment in Montreal They recently changed the chef (Eric used to work at Les Chevres and Decca77) and wines are always good.

          1. re: swissfoodie

            In what way seminal?

            Glad to hear they have a new chef. The food has gotten better over the years but has never been memorable. Now if they'd only do something about the layout and decor...

            1. re: carswell

              In the way that it was one of the first modern wine bars in Montreal.

              And layout and decor are always secondary for me. First is service and then food/wine. And I kind of like the chandelier made of wine glasses, and the cellphone encased in the wall near the

              1. re: swissfoodie

                Doesn't BU predate it? I've always thought of BU as the wine bar trailblazer.

                The chandelier is way cool, the best thing about the decor. The rest I find kind of gloomy -- a real feat given the size of the front window -- and the banquettes uncomfortable. And if you want an earful, ask the wait staff (off record, of course) about the ergonomics of the place. Have never visited the washrooms and so am clueless about the celltel. Will check it out next visit.

      2. Apologies for lack of individual responses - but responses are much appreciated! L'atelier and Montée de Lait seem to stand out (the smoked mackerel at Montée de Lait caught my eye... absolutely adore smoked mackerel :o) and I've been meaning to check out Resevoir for quite some time and have STILL not got around to it, despite it being less than a 2 minute walk from my apartment, so perhaps I'll have to make a brunch and dinner thing out of it one day soon. Again, thank you!

        2 Replies
        1. re: afoodyear

          Unfortunately Montee de Lait's on-line menu only overlapped about 20% with the actual menu when I was there in early May. There was no smoked mackerel on offer when I was last there -- if that is a major consideration for you.

          1. re: Fritzy

            Doh. I'll have to put it lower on the priority list then.

        2. After all these people saying Pintxo is their favourite restaurant, I decided to go with three friends last night. I am so surprised - we were not at all impressed. It is such a shame as I just moved 2 minutes away from that location, and also had such high expectations.

          A few things that I noticed: White asparagus was overcooked to the extent that it fell apart when touched and turned to mush - yuck. A crab and shrimp dish had a watery taste and the flavours were not at all attractive to any of us - a tiny portion was not even finished. The garlic shrimp was fine, but I know I can do it just as well or better myself. The baked fig with Serrano ham and cheese could have been tasty but the fig was obviously completely unripe, as it had no flavour. Worst of all was the dessert. Maybe I just didn't get it, but it was a frozen nougot-type thing with berries and nuts, and it tasted a bit like fruit cake or a frozen granola bar, and again, none of us liked it and it ended up melting on the plate instead of being finished.

          In the interest of balance, the goat cheese ravioli with duck confit was tasty (but tiny!) and the cod with scrambled eggs was pretty good but didn't blow us away.

          Service was great in the beginning (when it was completely empty) but once it filled up, our waiter stopped checking in, and we had to ask for our bill then wait quite a bit before we could leave. Not impressed at all with that side of things either.

          I'd be interested to see if you all think I got a bad night, or if the restaurant has begun to slip recently.

          11 Replies
          1. re: Keramel

            I hope it is a bad night, but then again I went there only twice and my last visit was more than six months ago. I also ordered very different from what you had. I had the beef cheeks on one visit and black cod in another one; with chefs selection of 4 smaller pinxtos. I ironically don't remember any of the smaller pinxtos (bad sign much?). But the mains blew me away in both visits.

            It would be sad if they are slipping. I was planning to take some of the job candidates that we will be interviewing there. It is always impressive, and the bill doesn't break our budget (unless the candidate orders serious booze, nice way to lose the job eh?). Now I am worried that it is no longer our "safest" bet.

            1. re: emerilcantcook

              Ditto your sentiments but bear in mind that Keramel and company were there last night, i.e. Monday, a day the top chefs may well have had off. With a few exceptions (like Leméac), I'm always wary of eating out in fancier restaurants early in the week.

              1. re: carswell

                That is a good point and that might be the case. I like to think though that since the person taking over when the head chef is out would be capable of replicating fairly closely the chef's work. Otherwise, in my opinion they should close on Mondays.

            2. re: Keramel

              I'd like to think it was an off night. The crab and shrimp dish you had is actually one of my favorite pintxos that they offer! The fig and mahon cheese one should probably be stricken from the menu unless they obtain a better fig source though and I'm not a huge fan of their dessert selection either. Despite this, the beef cheek, Basque cod, foie gras and blood pudding dishes are very good and the gazpacho ain't bad either.

              The 4 chef's selection pintxos are normally the strawberry and roasted red pepper gazpacho, salmon tartar, foie gras torchon with onion confit and the quintet of grilled vegetables. IMO it's better to choose your own as these are, for the most part, smaller portions and... well, you get to choose your own :)

              1. re: afoodyear

                Funny. I've been there twice; friends and colleagues many times. And those were the exact pinxtos we (or they) were served for all occasions. So it is perhaps safe to assume that the chef always selects the same four, with not much surprise...Not a bad selection, but warning if you are uneasy about the foie. Now that you mention, salmon tartar wasn't bad either.

                <Despite this, the beef cheek, Basque cod, foie gras and blood pudding dishes are very good and the gazpacho ain't bad either.>

                You mean the "beef check"? . Yup that is a good dish, but they've got to change that typo in the menu. It could have been amusing elsewhere (Hey, I've eaten lots of delicious "crap dumplings"), but not at somewhere that flaunts being Canada's top 6th new restaurant and makes some effort in being stylish and all.


                1. re: emerilcantcook

                  Agreed. I'm pretty sure that isn't the only error on their website and menu, too. Maybe it's really from Czech cows? Perhaps we'll never know.

              2. re: Keramel

                A quick update on Pinxto--I went there sometime last year and was not at all impressed but found myself in the neighborhood tonight and decided to try again. We had six tapas, two were excellent, the calamari with caramelized onions and scallops (well one big scallop) with chirozo "bits"--the garlic shrimp (with yummy fresh, warm bread for dipping), mushrooms with duck confit and fig with machego were also good (above average for sure, though the figs were not ripe). The only dish that failed was the beef carpaccio --very tiny portion (even for them), tasteless etc...We had two desserts a chocolate creme brulee--yuck! and a marscapone cheesecake which was divine (as light as meringue). Six tapas, two glasses of excellent spanish wine and two desserts came to 75$ tax and tip included. We left happy and though it was not a bad price for a a decent meal...I'm glad I decided to give it another go....

                1. re: daimon4

                  I always thought their chocolate creme brulee is one of the greatest chocolate desserts in town. What was wrong with it?

                  1. re: emerilcantcook

                    Um...perhaps just "not my thing" (though I love all dessert as a rule). If I recall it was heavy in taste and texture. Glad to know someone is enjoying it though (and possibly I was too into my cheesecake to appreciate it)

                    1. re: daimon4

                      I understand. It is made from very dark chocolate, and is kind of intense; but that is what I like about it.

                      1. re: emerilcantcook

                        That is what I lke about it too! Good description, Emerilcantcook.

              3. FWIW, we had a terrific meal at Pintxo, about a month ago. Everything we ordered was quite delicious and well prepared save for the crab and corn thingy that was a real dud. I didn't take notes, but I remember the foie gras torchon and goat cheese ravioli quite fondly. Service was very friendly and prices were more than reasonable. I'd go back in a New-York minute.

                4 Replies
                1. re: SnackHappy

                  I wish they made a main dish of that scrumptious goat-cheese ravioli in duck gizzard stew. It was so unctuous and lip-smackingly delicious.

                  1. re: SnackHappy

                    I enjoyed the duck tartare and the scrambled egg with cod (which had the texture of a fluffy cloud). The only one that i didn't enjoy so much was the calamari with onion confit (but that was my eighth and final pintxo so maybe i had reached the point of overstimulation by then).

                    1. re: blond_america

                      The food here was fantastic. I don't quite know where to start. We ordered so many Tapas it was all so well done. The prep work for this food has a fabulous creative touch. I had the lamb ribs as my main course. It was simply outstanding. And the calamari tapas also really stood out as spectacular. Our server was also very good and knew his stuff really well. Very informative. Don't forget to make a reservation as this place gets quite busy and for good reason. I will be back here again for sure next time I am in Montreal.

                      1. re: Philip T

                        I agree!

                        I ate at Pintxo with a friend a few weeks back after a marathon food week (from french bistros to fine dining) and this was one of the best meals I've experienced in the city. We ordered about 15 tapas to share between the two of us, an amazing bottle of wine (wish I could remember the name!) and dessert. The price was incredibly reasonable for the meal we had. We ate in the alcove by the fireplace since we didn't have reservations and the place was pretty packed when we walked in. Our server brought a table over to the front entrance and we sat in the bay window all night by the fire which was really nice. We ordered so much food that we must've spent a full 2 hours in the restaurant and I actually fell asleep at one point while waiting for our dessert. I like that they pace the meal since it's easy to order a lot of tapas. The dishes were the perfect size to share amongst two people. I'd have to say that this is definitely in my top 5 restaurants in Montreal right now.