Disclaimer: We apologize for some of this review's poor quality pictures; we later found out our camera lens was greasy. Blame it on the delicious tandoori chicken; read below!
Reliable backup plans are a must in the absence of reservations. Such was our story on this late-spring Tuesday night as our first choice, the popular Sumac in Saint-Henri, was filled to the brim. Not wanting to linger around praying for a table to free up, we headed to Rasoï next door for what would be our second visit. We were pleased to find both a parking spot in front and several tables readily available for the grabbing.
Visually-speaking, the three-year old Indian restaurant is unlike anything you've seen in Montreal. The modern, ornamented space is divided into two dining areas featuring exposed brick walls and painted ceilings, separated by a psychedelic passage in the middle. The ambiance is hip and sophisticated, catering to the young Saint-Henri demographic, in sharp contrast to traditional, low-key Indian eateries.
tagged: EYE FOR DESIGN
Rasoï's menu follows convention while incorporating fusion elements; chicken tandoori, biryani and butter chicken are mingled with madras poutine, tuna tartar and paneer pizza! The more inventive items did not appeal to us much – let alone the bad rap they received from a certain food critic – so we stuck to familiar classics.
The restaurant bills itself an "Indian tapas bar", so sharing is part of the game here. Portions are smallish – though accordingly-priced – so make sure you order abundantly. The taste and quality are there, but some dishes lack that extra spice and fragrance we typically expect from Indian food. Hits included finger-lickin' good tandoori chicken and fall-off-the-bone goat meat in a fiery vindaloo sauce.
"lightly spiced onion fritters served with tamarind & date and cilantro chutney"
"flaky pastries stuffed with ground venison served with mustard, mango chutney and a beet & arugula salad"
"1/2 grain-fed marinated chicken marinated, cooked in tandoor oven, brushed with American style BBQ sauce, served with grilled onions, peppers & pineapple"
"boneless chicken breast in a rich and creamy curry sauce with dried fenugreek leaves, topped with grated parmesan cheese & sliced almonds"
"halal goat leg & marble potatoes in a sherry vinegar based curry sauce topped with a fried chili pepper, garnished with fresh cilantro"
"Chinese eggplants, caramelized onions, diced tomatoes & marble potatoes sautéed with Indian spices, garnished with fresh cilantro"
"cauliflower, broccoli, marble potatoes, green peas & diced tomatoes sautéed with Indian spices, garnished with fresh cilantro"
"Indian beignets in rose water, saffron syrup served hot, with a side of vanilla ice cream, candied pecans & fresh berries"
tagged: GOOD FOR SHARING
Our waitress for the night was to the point, quick and efficient – leaving not much to either grumble about or particularly applaud. On a prior visit late last year, we recall having an issue with our wine bottle's serving temperature. Alas this may be a lingering concern – either that or we have the worst luck – as tonight a couple of glasses of red had to be sent back for being too warm for our liking.
Always with the aim of assessing a restaurant against what else is out there in its own space, we deem Rasoï a standout because it did to Indian cuisine what its Saint-Henri cohort, Cho, did to Asian. Both made their respective ethnicities' food fun, contemporary and creative. And while we thought a couple dishes fell flat, we still enjoyed the overall proposition, from the attractive décor to the tasty food.
Price per person: $26.33
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.