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Food

Terrific Tasca: An Affordable Portuguese Lunch at the Montreal Highlights Festival

Posted by Amie / February 20, 2012

Tasca's Grilled Calamari at the Montreal Highlights FestivalDon't come to Tasca expecting Festival en Lumiere gourmet flash (bone marrow this, fois gras that). Instead the week-long $12.95 three-course lunch special is the best deal in town and features succulent grilled calamari, clams with sausage, and a generous cup of chocolate mousse.

You've only got until Friday to get to this prix fixe deal at Portuguese restaurant Tasca.

If you think grilled chicken is all Portuguese cooking has going for it, get ready for a nice surprise. Choose from soup or salad, one of five mains, and one of two desserts. Since most of the mains go for more than $12.95 à la carte anyway, getting three courses for the same amount is a steal.

Sitting down in the spacious room feels, I feel the first full breath I've taken all day. The servers aren't winding dangerously around tables and you don't need to worry about elbowing your neighbour. You also don't necessarily need a reservation here since the space is large and oh-so-breathable. All you need to do is at Tasca is relax, stretch out, open your linen napkin, and get ready for a nice surprise. The meal is going to take about two hours, so letting your digestion do its job without any added stress of a packed, frantic restaurant is helpful.

Tasca Festival en LumiereAnd, of course, there's bread with it all - fluffy Portuguese rolls plus some odds and ends with less-than-formal butter packets and mini olives. The butter packets are the only sign that you're not at a much fancier restaurant.

Tasca Festival en LumiereThe colourful salad of romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, and carrots comes dressed only in olive oil.

Tasca Festival en LumiereThe puréed potato soup keeps the minimalist clothing theme going, topped simply with kale and freshly ground black pepper. Too much salt, but not too thick, which is good because you're going to need room.

The restaurant is known for its cod and the Bacalhao à Tasco is a way more than enormous portion of the salt cod dish (enough for three hungry people, actually). Too bad the cod isn't sustainable, since bottom longlined or trapped Pacific cod this ain't.

Tasca's Grilled Sardines at the Montreal Highlights FestivalOn the other end of the sustainability spectrum are the perfectly grilled sardines. Their oil, salt, and pepper are all these four Omega-3 gods need, though some lemon wouldn't hurt. The innards, head, tail and spine make eating this a little work, and the bland (at the best of times) and bitter (at the worst of times) fish is really an acquired taste. Still, the fish comes to the table tender and luscious topped with mixed bell peppers, so it's a great place to try sardines if you've never had them. The accompanying salad doubles as the appetizer, so opt for the soup to start.

Grilled calamari that doesn't taste like rubber is hard to get in Montreal. A little too much time on the grill or too short a marinating time can make for a lot of chewing and cause more depression than a well-cooked steak. Here the squid is perfect. Even the tentacles are soft and tender, and while the portion is no where near as generous as the cod (it actually is a serving for one person), it's very well executed. Salt, pepper, and oil again. It's a good theme. Plus some deliciously mush-tacular boiled potatoes, a perfect grilled tomato topped with salt and garlic (I just wanted to eat the top third of the toamto where all the delicious toppings were...), and al dente green beans. Finally, a dinner plate that doesn't toss off the vegetables!

A heaping plate of steamer clams with sausage makes an impressive arrival at the table, and rabbit in red wine sauce is a comforting option for anyone not feeling like seafood.

Hopefully you didn't eat that entire unsustainable cod because the chocolate mousse for dessert is cool and satisfying. This isn't the kind of place where a $10 dessert means a tiny truffle, an eighth of a Bilboquet-sized scoop of sorbet, and a dab of unidentifiable green gel. Instead the cream-heavy desserts are meant to pack a punch. No natas here, but you can skeedaddle on down to Stella Estrela if you still have a sugar craving post-lunch.

Fast service, a big, sunny dining room, a talented grill chef = a great, affordable lunch.


Tasca Restaurant's Lunch at the Montreal Highlights Festival

Where: 172 Duluth
When: Tuesday-Friday Feb. 21-24, 2012
How Much: $12.95 plus tax and tip
514-987-1530

If you miss Tasca at the Festival en Lumiere you can still save a little money by printing the 10% off coupon on the right sidebar of this page.

Discussion

13 Comments

bluto blutarsky / February 20, 2012 at 02:18 pm
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Awesome find, thank you!
Russ Cooper / February 21, 2012 at 07:12 am
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Nice job, Amie. It's 10 am and I want to eat grilled sardines.
Amie / February 21, 2012 at 09:13 am
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Then my work here is done.
reputable financial advisors / December 7, 2016 at 10:54 am
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An interesting discussion is worth comment. I do think that you should write more on this
subject, it may not be a taboo subject but usually people
don't talk about these issues. To the next! Many
thanks!!
Kanchipuram sarees / June 5, 2018 at 10:28 pm
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nice post
golu dolls / June 5, 2018 at 10:29 pm
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nice post
Kanchipuram silk Sarees / July 1, 2018 at 12:26 am
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nice post
golu dolls / July 1, 2018 at 12:27 am
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nice post
herbal powder / January 8, 2019 at 04:53 am
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nice post
kanchipuram Silk / January 8, 2019 at 05:16 am
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Nice post
kanchipuramsarees / January 8, 2019 at 05:16 am
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Nice post
navarathri golu / January 8, 2019 at 05:16 am
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Nice post
herbal powder / January 8, 2019 at 05:16 am
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Nice post

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