When chef Antonio Park opened his namesake Westmount fixture in 2012, we quickly became big fans, as did everyone else from critics to celebrities. Since then, the sushi sensei has kept himself busy as a judge on Food Network's Chopped Canada; then expanded his portfolio with the likes of Marché Park, Flyjin, Jatoba and finally Lavanderia last year, after taking over Tao Restaurant's lease next door to PARK.
Walking in without a reservation, we luckily stepped into the calm period in between dinner services. No sooner were we seated than a mixed crowd of yuppies, families with kids and senior citizens filled up table after table; all turning their attention to the ongoing Habs playoff game showing on the TV screen. The pleasant neighborhood feel was alas marred by the surprisingly humid and stuffy dining room.
Lavanderia's menu consists of an assortment of pan-Latin American appetizers followed by a 100% charcoal asado list of anything that walks, flies or swims, in true Argentinian form (FYI, Antonio was born and raised in South America). For those willing to splurge, there is also a Kobe beef burger and the mammoth parillada completa (a selection of all meats).
We enjoyed a couple rounds of pisco-centric cocktails and were mostly pleased with our food. The ceviche had a balanced texture and provided a kick, the octopus was meaty and tender, while the mandioca stood in nicely for fries. The major letdown was the beef strip loin; the charcoal flavor was on point, but sadly the meat was tough and came pre-cut (a pet peeve of ours).
"jalapeno con plantain"
"grelot potatoes, red onion, taggiasche olives, baby romain, parsley, huancaina sauce"
"Ferme la Roche, with homemade chimichurri, salsa criolla & salsa de tomate fresca"
"manioc, cassava, yuca, aji sauce"
Although the second service was fully booked, the hostess still let us pick a table; a nice touch on her part. Later on, there was a little mix-up with the cocktail order, which means we got a round on the house; no complaints. Otherwise we received our food very promptly despite the busy night.
It pains us to admit that we weren't wowed by Lavanderia, given how much we love PARK. Perhaps it had something to do with our expectations and the disappointing carne asada, Argentina's quintessential dish nonetheless. To be fair, the uncomfortable heat would've soured any dinner. In light of that, we're hoping that a future visit will turn things around for this otherwise promising neighborhood grill.
tagged: DESERVES A RETRY
Price per person: $33.50
"I have to say that your quality of your reviews has declined with time. I'm really disappointed. For a blog representing Montreal, I'm very ashamed. It seems you don't have an understanding of food nor Latin American cuisine. For a blogger who says "the meat [...] came pre-cut (a pet peeve of ours)", it seems you haven't grasp the concept of presentation. What do you expect... that Lavanderia is a steakhouse? Oh please..."
We’re disappointed you feel this way about our reviews, but rest assured the same standard and effort goes in every piece we publish.
As for Latin American cuisine, we have a very good understanding of it, yet we do not claim to be an authority. We realize meat tends to be cooked well done in those countries; we still would have preferred it more juicy and tender on the inside.
Presentation is important but more so is taste. A good looking dry steak is still a disappointing one. Whether that was caused by the pre-slicing or not, we were not impressed with it.
Finally, we emphasized the relativity of our remark by making it clear that this is a pet peeve of OURS; thus removing any connotation of absolutism.
Your feedback is always welcome and we thank you for following us and reading our reviews.
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.