Lavanderia is the long awaited South American influenced restaurant from Montreal sushi wonder boy Antonio Park. It’s located next to Park’s eponymous high-end Japanese-Korean restaurant on Victoria in Westmount. It’s supposed to be an homage to the cuisine and restaurants of Park’s youth which he spent in Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil.
The décor is certainly reminiscent of restaurants I’ve visited in Argentina and Uruguay. It’s bright and open with a very high ceiling. The kitchen is open, but unlike most places in the Rio de la Plata, you don’t really have a view of the grill. The setting is very casual, but the service and prices are not. I’m less and less a fan of this disconnect, but I digress.
The menu is touted as South American and I was under the impression that this place was to be some sort of high-end parilla. That’s not exactly what it is, or at least it’s not like the high-end parillas I’ve been to in the Rio de la Plata. It’s more like a North-American fine dining interpretation of a South-American restaurant. On the night were there, the menu included a ceviche, a tiradito, empanadas, salads, sides like yucca and sweet potato, grilled fish and seafood and grilled meat. Strangely missing from the menu or the tables were salsa criolla and chimichurri.
We ordered the morcilla (blood sausage, $12.50), grilled octopus ($16), sweetbreads ($15), green salad ($9) and short ribs ($20). The best dishes were the sweetbreads and the octopus. Both were perfectly cooked. The sweetbreads came with small root vegetables in a sweet broth. The dish was flawless. The octopus was tender and smoky. It came with a mayonnaise sauce and few potatoes and olives. It was a great dish. The tomatoes in the salad where firm and flavourful and that made it a winner.
The morcilla and short ribs were a bit disappointing. I was expecting morcilla criolla i.e. South-American blood sausage, but what we got was a very meaty sausage with barely enough blood to make it dark. It was more like a fresh version of chouriço mouro than a morcilla. Nevertheless, it was a tasty sausage. It just wasn’t what we expected. The short ribs (flanken cut or asado de tira), were not as flavourful or tender as I would have expected. They were also overcooked and the portion was very small.
In fact, all portions were “small-plate” sized. This seems somewhat counterintuitive for a South American restaurant, but makes sense in the context of North American fine dining. You should expect to order three dishes per person.
The wine selection was limited, with the cheapest red at a whopping $78 a bottle. We were told this was because they had not yet received their complete wine order. They were nice enough to offer a serviceable cab at $9 a glass.
All in all, this is a nice place with good food and service, but prices a bit on the expensive side. It’s not really the little piece of the Rio de la Plata I was expecting, but that probably won't matter much to most people.
374 rue Victoria