Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Mystify Me, Misto - Restaurant Misto (Montréal à Table)

I really wish I had more time and money to blog about food. Eh, what else is new about being a food-loving engineering student...

So from November 1st to November 11th, we had our second annual Montréal à Table event (which I totally should have told you guys about, I'm so sorry), where over 100 restaurants in the greater Montreal area offer a specialized, themed menu for a set price of either $19, $29 or $39. The theme this year was maple syrup. I had the pleasure of visiting two such restaurants, one of them being Misto, an Italian restaurant situated on the Plateau. 

My friends and I had been mulling over the restaurant list for a while. We started planning pretty late into the event, so a lot of the most popular restaurants were already booked full. The Misto menu caught our eye, having a good variety of choices and an innovative menu, so we decided to check it out.

Accessibility - Grade: B+
Guys, I actually got to hitch a ride to a restaurant instead of taking public transport, and we managed to find parking right in front of the restaurant. You don't understand how happy that makes me. But if you're taking public transport, it's about a five-ten minute walk from Mont-Royal metro, right across from L'Avenue. Which isn't so bad during the summer, but can still be pretty daunting in the cold.

Service - Grade: C+
Yeah, the service was pretty unimpressive. I'm not picky when it comes to service, but I had the distinct impression that our waiter wasn't happy that we didn't order alcohol. I also don't think he said more than two words to us at a time, never mind crack a smile. It was also nearly impossible to flag him down to give him our orders, despite the fact that he was prowling around the floor doing absolutely nothing. However, I must say that the people who brought us our food were pretty friendly, and actually bothered to reply when we thanked them (hence the +). But for an establishment like this, you really would expect them to put in a bit more effort.

Ambiance Notes
This restaurant does have a very nice ambiance, with a kind of modern chic feel to it. The front of the restaurant is a white garage door, but the interior has jazzy classy feel to it. Definitely nice for a date, although it did get a little loud when we went.

Food - Grade: B-

This is a case where food falls short of your overestimated expectations.

We had a choice of two appetizers, one being the veal tartare and the other a cream shrimp pasta dish (I believe it was tagliatelle?).

Veal tartare
The veal tartare came in a small cube, and was accompanied by a large piece of crouton, and garnished with a simple drizzle of balsamic vinegar. The meat was tender, but packed firmly enough to still be chewy. In terms of flavour, the taste was very mild. but seasoned just enough to showcase the veal instead of masking it. Overall, not bad.

Creamy shrimp pasta
I'm pretty sure it was tagliatelle. In any case, my friend ordered this appetizer, which is pasta drenched in a cream sauce, accompanied by three large shrimp and garnished with herbs. I didn't try the shrimp or the pasta, but had a quick taste of the sauce. It was very creamy and buttery, and the taste of cheese was quite present, but it also had a note of sourness that cut through all the richness. 

Grilled Chicken with Vegetables
For the mains, Misto offered three choices: a grilled chicken dish, a veal strip loin, and a duck confit pasta dish. My friends and I ordered one of each.

I wish I had taken down the description on the menu, because I really can't remember what twist they had added to this simple, classic dish. In any case, my friend had ordered the chicken, which consisted of a grilled quarter-chicken and some grilled veggies as a side. My friend said she found the chicken very juicy, and not a single bite was dry, even the breast area. She also said that the meat itself was very flavourful, unlike chicken at other places, where the flavour is predominantly in the skin. She was also very enthralled by the grilled purple carrots that came as a side, since it was apparently her first time eating purple carrots. Her final verdict: not the best, but not the worst. Pretty decent.

Veal strip loin with fried onion ring and greens
My other friend ordered the veal strip loin, which consisted of a small but fairly thick cut of veal, cooked medium (though the waiter never asked her how she would have liked it cooked). Her verdict was that it was a good cut of meat, and that there was a lot of tendon. The meat itself was flavourful, and did not require much of the sauce. The onion ring was nothing special, on par with Harvey's (her words), but the salad added a fresh crispness that lightened the meal. All-in-all, not too heavy and enjoyable.

I had a small cut of her veal, and I thought the meat was very tender, but also very mild. But that may be because I'm more used to beef steaks than veal. Still, it was probably my preferred dish of the three.

Rigatoni with Confit de Canard
I ordered the rigatoni with confit de canard, cooked in a cream sauce and tossed with pine nuts. When they said confit de canard, I had expected a leg of duck sided with pasta, but the duck is actually shredded and tossed in with the pasta. As far as pasta dishes go, this one was pretty solid. The cream sauce was a lot like the one from the shrimp appetizer, creamy but with a lemony tang, and the rigatoni was cooked nicely al dente. I love the taste of pine nuts, and I thought the dish could have done with a bit more of them. They had all sunk to the bottom of the plate, and I had to fish them out and eat the individually after. The duck flavour was lost amidst everything else, and was sometimes indecipherable from the pieces of veggies in the plate. Again, solid, but not mind-blowing.

Candied pecans and squash panna cotta
There were two options for dessert, one being the panna cotta with diced squash and candied pecans and fleur de sel. Both of my friends ordered this, and I had a small taste. One of my friends really enjoyed the candied/sugared pecans, saying they reminded her of Christmas, but everyone agreed that the squash and the fleur de del did nothing for the panna cotta. It took us about fifteen minutes to realize that the orange pieces of fruit were actually squash, which were very mild in flavour, and on my first bite, I got a mouthful of salt from one corner of the squash. The panna cotta itself was airy and lightly sweet.

Maple pork tart with candied bacon
I ordered the pork tart, because c'mon, pork in a dessert? It came as a very small bite-sized piece, and was interesting, to say the least. The cream on top was lightly sweet, but had a stiff texture that reminded me of pork lard. The pear slice between that and the pork added a nice tartness to the dessert. The pork itself didn't add much to the tart (except a slight confusion when you hit the first bite), but the crust underneath was buttery and flakey. The maple-candied bacon was also pretty good.

Price - $$$
I had a gander at the regular menu, and mains seem to average around $25, which is probably more than what I would have paid for what I got. But then again, I just don't think pasta should be that expensive, unless everything really is freshly made. In any case, since it was a special menu, the appetizer, main and dessert came at a fixed price of $29 per person. Which isn't too shabby, but still more than I should be paying for food.

Final Grade: B-
It all comes back to 'Eh, not bad, but not amazing'. It's probably unfair to judge this restaurant solely by their Montréal à Table menu, but there was nothing that stood out enough for me to warrant a second visit. Still, if ambiance is your thing, and you don't mind passive-aggressive waiters, then I guess you could give Misto a try...?

Restaurant Misto
929, Mont-Royal est 
MontrealQC H2J
(514) 526-5043

Restaurant Misto on Urbanspoon


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