Disclaimer: This meal was comped.
While restaurants' fortunes have swayed significantly since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, one group seems to be grabbing the bull by the horns. The Antonopoulos family operation – publicly known as Experience Old Montreal – have not shown any sign of slowing down by adding two spots since last summer to their ever-growing collection of hotels, spas and restaurants.
After repurposing a part of their Nelligan hotel for NELLi Café + Vin Nature last August, just this month they converted a retail space in Auberge du Vieux-Port to a spanking-new seafood eatery aptly named Pincette. And the timing could not be better!
While throngs of Montrealers visited coastal Quebec during the construction holiday, the Antonopouloses decided to bring the Atlantic experience back here. As with their other establishments – some of which are reviewed here – the influencer-friendly group invited me to sample their newest edition on this fine Sunday evening.
tagged: SUNDAY NIGHT
With the warm weather of late, I was hoping for a table outside along the charming, pedestrian-only, cobblestoned stretch of Rue Saint-Paul facing the Auberge. Instead, my wife and I were led inside, where a few tables were reserved for media guests.
That turned out to be the better option, as we got to enjoy the intimate space with its nautical décor. The "fisherman chic" interior is highlighted with eye-catching ceiling lights made of wooden lobster traps.
Canada's East coast is renowned for its lobster, so naturally Pincette dedicates an entire section of its menu to the treasured crustacean. You'll find it grilled, skewered, in a roll, in a club sandwich, on poutine, on mac ‘n' cheese… Even Bubba Gump could not keep up with these variations!
Other options include oysters, shrimp cocktail, tuna tartare, fish ‘n' chips, linguini with clams… If it resides in the ocean, it's likely on the menu! Event those who require red meat in their lives will be accommodated with a flank steak or burger. A fun cocktail list is headlined by a bloody Caesar garnished with a snow crab leg, while the wine selection is short, diverse and privately imported.
My only gripe tonight was with the lobster bisque, which was tasty but a tad oily. Everything else was worth a "dive", especially the acras (cod fritters), which were the lightest, fluffiest and tastiest I have ever had. The fish ‘n' chips – featuring whole, thin-battered merlans – was also noteworthy.
While the economy and society at large are still feeling the pinch of the ongoing pandemic, the Antonopoulos group is testing the waters with a new, unique seafood concept. The result is a stylish lobster shack dishing out great crowd favourites which is sure to resonate with locals and out-of-towners alike.
Who else is ready to dive in?
Price per person: $34
Montreal restaurant and bar reviews brought to you by two regular guys who like to eat and drink. We will go anywhere and we will say it like it is.