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Ferreira Café leads the pack for Montréal en Lumiere straight from Portugal

    Every year when the list of culinary participants for Montréal en Lumiere comes out, I scan about the different restaurants and see which new ones I’d like to explore.

    Enter Ferreira Café, which on Friday, March 1 will host restaurateur Leandro Mota and his chef Leonardo Costa from Canastra do Fidalgo located in Costa Nova, Portugal, along with winemaker Carlos Campolargo from the same region.  They will offer special festive lunch and dinner menus. 

    Since 1996, Ferreira Café on Peel Street has been a great Montréal ambassador of modern Portuguese cuisine. Warm and refined, while chic and relaxing, this is an ideal spot for anyone wanting to savor delicacies. The quality and the freshness of their products are their number one priority. This goes for their meticulous selection of products, an olive oil production  (which I had with my sourdough bread served with olives and lupini) and a truly impressive fish selection from Portugal caught and served within 24 hours. I dropped by for my first tasting before Montreal en Lumiere.

    It was a pleasure to meet owner Carlos Ferreira and manager Damião Santos. My friend and I  first looked at the selection of On Ice offerings, choosing the magnificent seafood platter, consisting of lobster, tiger shrimp, oysters, mussels in escabeche and octopus ceviche, Matane shrimp and clams. There is also a wide list of appetizers and exclusive caviar.  For the main course, my friend had the eight-ounce filet mignon while I opted for the 16-ounce Angus rib. It was perfectly prepared and cut in two, so it can be shared or you can take the remainder home for the following day which I did. Indeed save room for the dessert menu. I zeroed in on the chocolate mousse, which is made with Ferreria oil and comes with ice cream. 

    On March 1, there will be a six-course menu available for $140 a person,  with an optional wine pairing for $95.  

    Here is what diners can look forward to sourdough bread, olives seasoned with F olive oil and oregano; warm salad of salted cod confit, tangy chickpeas, parsley oil and smoked paprika;  roasted Atlantic octopus with spiced rice and almonds from “Tras-os-Montes,” Porto jus and lime;  “Chanfana” beef, baby potatoes cooked in its broth, Quebec garlic-sautéed turnip leaves; grilled Bairrada Easter “folar,” “Serra de Estrela” cheese, and cinnamon-scented pumpkin jam; and for dessert, Maria biscuit and coffee cake, egg cream and their famous Canastra do Fidalgo cake. You can read the full menu and the wine pairings here: https://shorturl.at/bpUW2

    Carlo Ferreira produces his line of  F wine from his vineyards in the Douro Superior. I enjoyed a glass of Carlos Ferreira F Bruto prosecco from Portugal.

    Groupe Ferreira is comprised of four restaurants, each offering a unique experience and showcasing the best ingredients available. The story began in  1996 with the opening of Ferreira Café on Peel Street. The restaurant quickly became the go-to spot for Portuguese cuisine in Montreal, and business people met there regularly. Eight years later, Café Vasco da Gama opened just steps away, serving sandwiches and premium salads and supplying catering services to eager gourmets. There are also two Campo grilled Portuguese chicken restaurants downtown, one on de Maisonneuve and the other at the Timeout Market

    At the heart of the Ferreira Group is a family that has worked tirelessly to build its admirable reputation in the restaurant business. Each new culinary project is rooted in the family values that patriarch Carlos Ferreira holds dear. Tradition and modernity harmoniously co-exist in a unique atmosphere where returning clientele feel like family. The same goes for employees who proudly propagate these values by  

    The idea of helping his fellow Montrealers discover Portuguese gastronomy and culture is an exciting notion in itself. Doing it with unwavering passion and taking to heart to offer a truly unique experience where quality is a priority, is the vision of Carlos Ferreira. As you’ll see, he took this vision quite far!

    Over and above her responsibilities as Director of Operations of Groupe Ferreira, Sandra  Ferreira makes a point of sharing innovative ideas and giving time and energy to local charities. Always on the lookout for trends in the restaurant milieu, her vision and passion are certain to take that of her father even further.

    When  Carlos Ferreira opened his flagship restaurant nearly 30 years ago,  he wanted to create an upscale Portuguese presence downtown among a slew of  French and Italian establishments.  “I wanted to be an ambassador of my culture and through my restaurant, show how beautiful my country is, and pay homage to it,” Carlos says.

    Carlos was originally a welder by profession in Portugal. When he moved to Montreal in the early 1970s, he got his start in the restaurant business the honest way:   washing dishes at an airport dining spot. From there he began delivering bread for a brasserie/bakery.  These experiences motivated him to dream big and open up his place one day. 

    The restaurant can seat 130 people, as well as about 45 on a seasonal terrasse.  There is a beautiful private room that can accommodate 64 to 72  diners and a smaller one that can fit 12. Besides a very regular clientele, they have a successful catering division with fully personalized menus for large events.. 

    “Our wines are flavorful and accessible to the public,” he says. “ As is also the case with our olive oils, we control quality from A to Z. Every time we manufacture a product that bears the seal of our brand, we want our customers to be 100 percent. satisfied,” he said.

    Thanks as well to Michael, a server there for nine years who guided us beautifully. I look forward to returning to Ferreira Café next summer to explore the many other items on the menu that enticed me.

    You can reserve here for Montréal en Lumiere:  https://www.opentable.com/booking/experiences-availability?rid=25141&restref=25141&experienceId=249697&utm_source=external&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=shared&covers=2&dateTime=2024-03-01T12:00:00

    Ferreira Café is located at 1446 Peel Street. It is open for lunch Monday to Friday 11:45 am to 2:30 and dinner Monday to Thursday 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm and Friday and Saturday: 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm. For more information call 514-848-0988 or log on to https://ferreiracafe.com

    Mike Cohen

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