In the heart of West Montreal lies a new addition to the trendy neighbourhood on Notre-Dame West. Pikeos is a Peruvian Tapas restaurant serving up classic street food with a makeover; familiar flavors that have been elevated for an innovative and unique dining experience. These small plates pack bold and exciting flavors that are memorable; you’ll want to keep coming back.
Pikeos, meaning literally ‘to pick at’ and the original term used for tapas, features exactly that. Small sharing plates that you’ll want to order many of in order to sample the different flavors. The menus are entirely in French but the friendly and informative staff are bilingual and are more than happy to explain the menu options and offer suggestions on what to try and with which wine to pair it.
Our meal for the evening started with the Papa Rellena ($7), a fluffy and seasoned potato dumpling stuffed with Peruvian sausage and topped with rocoto pepper emulsion, tomatoes, and green onion. The familiarity of this dish stems from the fact that in any country where potatoes have become a staple, people have found ways of stuffing a form of protein into cooked potatoes or have used potatoes and a protein as a stuffing for another form of dumpling. This is comforting and delectable, the sausages are spiced and smoky and pair well with the mellow potato crust. The salsa topping brings vibrancy and brightness to the dish.
We tried the Anticuchos next ($8) which was certainly something unexpected and took us a bit to the wild side. Marinated and smoky duck hearts served skewered on a bed of roasted sweet potato pieces, choclo (Peruvian corn) and huacatay (black mint) sauce. Don’t let the duck hearts scare you away from this succulent and delectable dish. The hearts are rich and meaty, full of bold and smoky barbecue flavor that pair incredibly well with the sweet potato and choclo beneath. If you’ve never had choclo before, they appear to be much larger corn kernels but they are certainly starchier and have much less of a vegetal crunch. The black mint sauce binds everything together for a simply mesmerizing flavor experience.
Up next was the Causa Croustillante ($14), a trio of light potato fritters topped with a tempura battered shrimp, signature Pikeos sauce, nori bits, Botija olives, and green onions. The shrimp are juicy and succulent; the potato fritters were similar to the Papa Rellena but felt lighter in this dish. The toppings give the dish a bright and citrus tang.
Capping off our meal was truly the piece de resistance, Conchas a la Parmesana ($14), two large, plump and perfectly cooked sea scallops served in scallop shells. Served in a rich Peruvian béchamel sauce and topped with broiled parmesan with lime on the side. Hands down the best dish of the evening, it’ll be hard to enjoy a scallop served anywhere else after having tried this.
We paired our meal with the Komala Tampanillo from the Rojas, Spain region – a beautiful full-bodied red wine and a top seller at Pikeos.
Having spoken with the owner, Renzo, during our meal, he talked of his childhood and how many of these dishes were ones his mom used to prepare for him after school. These are the flavors, textures, and memories that he wanted to bring to the people of Montreal who, in general, are a population intrigued and interested in new and innovative ideas. He and his family worked hard to create and perfect these dishes and the efforts have clearly proven to be worthwhile. Renzo suggests trying Pikeos’ two ceviche options, both of which are also local favorites.
The prices are reasonable and affordable enough to make Pikeos a destination restaurant for you and your friends, or a special date night, to try a selection of dishes. You’ll surely be amazed at every turn.
Review by Samantha Wu
Photos by Yehuda Fisher