By Annick Gagnon
I’ve never had the chance to visit the Mediterranean and yet tonight, I really had the impression I was enjoying a meal with the family in an ocean front eatery. All that was missing was the sound of the waves, but with the torrential rain that hit Montreal, we let our imagination run free.
BarBounya is Laurier Street’s newest addition. Its co-owners, Fisun Ercan and Edward Zaki, chose an original name that inspires travel, discovery and creativity. The barbounya, also known as the red mullet, is a popular fish in the Meditarrean and Turkey, home country of co-owner and Chef Fisun Ercan.
The place showcases a contemporary decor with long tables that encourage guests to mingle. Bistro style tables give an airy and modern feel to the interior. Solid wood, industrial light fixtures and comfortable leather stools all help to offer a warm and comfortable atmosphere. My friend and I choose to sit at the bar, next to the front window.
Patrice, our waiter, is welcoming, friendly and very entertaining. We really enjoyed our evening laughing and joking with him and his teammate. He takes the time to explain the menu in detail and makes excellent suggestions. Everything is so tempting; I wish I could have everything! That just means I’m going to have to come back for sure. I’m happy the dishes are Mezes style, which is about the size of tapas, so we get to try different things at once. Our adventure begins with a glass of wine and a plate of warm homemade bread.
The menu is divided into categories: Spreads, from the field, from the sea, from the land and sandwich style. Since Mezes are generally small portions, I suggest you order from three to four choices per person. Everything is brought to us gradually, alternating between vegetables and meat, so we can enjoy our meals fresh out of the kitchen, without cluttering the table.
We begin with the eggplant and yogurt caviar that can be enjoyed on its own or on croutons. We immediately notice the quality of the ingredients and preparation. My friend even tried to keep it for herself! The extra-fine French beans are crunchy and topped with roasted almonds and parmesan cheese. Our first meat dish is Kamouraska lamb skewers, whose flesh is cooked to perfection and served on a bed of caramelized onions. We then savoured the grilled quail with a reduction of grape molasses and homemade tahini; it’s a delicate combination between salty and sweet. Finally, we receive the restaurant’s signature dish: pan-seared barbounya with olive relish and a pistachio and broad bean puree. We savour the tasty fish filets with the braised artichoke that is tender and just plain delicious!
We are already pretty full from all this wonderful food, but we can’t help ourselves when our waiter says they have fig stuffed baklavas in the kitchen. All I can say is they disappeared quite quickly from the plate. That’s when Patrice surprised us with shooters made with sparkling wine and Frangelico, a hazelnut liqueur. This concludes the evening on a cheerful and refined note, to the image of this restaurant and its winning staff.
For a culinary Mediterranean experience without ever leaving your beloved city, a trip to BarBounya is definitely a must.
234, ave. Laurier Ouest, Montréal