Bocata is a Spanish tapas wine bar in old Montreal that does it right. We were in the area last Friday and walked by this beautiful spot on our way to Venti hoping to get a table without a reservation. Thankfully we were unsuccessful in our try because we went to Bocata and got a nice little table. This was a perfect Friday night dinner for us and a great find. We'll be back for sure (and call for reservations this time!)
The place is nice and cozy, but yet there's still enough space for everybody without feeling like you're included in the conversations of the tables around you. The decor is very baroque and rustic with copper pans and iberico jamon hanging from the ceiling everywhere. One modern thing that is noticed when looking at the bar in but is very welcome is a cold storage for the "By the glass" bottles. This keeps all the bottles at a constant temperature and at the same time dispenses the exact amount (think of the donut system for drinks).They have a somelier on site that can help you go through the wine book (yes, a book!) and he helped us pick a Bordeaux that went well through our entire order.
Our waitress recommended 2-3 plates per person if we're planning on sharing. So we started with the Pata negra iberico. Black footed wild boar from the Iberico region of Spain. Think priosciutto, but smaller cuts. This came on a nice wooden board with a few slices of bread. Personally I'd leave the bread and let that ham melt on my tongue it was so good! We followed the next course with a chorizo grilled cheese sandwich served with a roasted tomato and fennel soup. Perfect combination of flavours that balanced it very well. The roasting of the tomatoes added that nice layer. It might've been accented with a smoky paprika. I'd have either component on their own personally but together they were a great pairing. Along with this we had the duck & arugula salad. At first I thought it was too sweet but once you get a bite of the shredded duck leg with the dressing and salad, it works amazingly. The salad was sweetened with tiny cubes of lychee which added lightness to a rich duck flavour.
Our third course was wild mushrooms with a cavatelli, basil, pine nuts and cream, a slight variation on pesto basically, and the braised beef cheeks with gnochi. Too bad this stuff isn't on the regular menu cause it was excellent! I found myself scraping the bottom of the plate to get every bits of sauce onto my fork.
We finished the meal by sharing the chocolate bread pudding with fleur de sel caramel and caramelized bananas. This was a nice small bite of dessert and it ended the whole night well with a good coffee. This I find is not an easy thing to get. I personally hate having a fantastic meal and the last taste I have is a horrible espresso. It was not the case here, Bocata has proper coffee.
I highly recommend this place, and i want to try their other restaurant next door Barroco which looks to be more french, and individual plates instead of tapas.
Bocata's web site