Refined Greek food and Old Montreal glamour

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Ikanos by day

On a Thursday night in late July, in the midst of the Just for Laughs festival and during one of the series of heatwaves we’ve had this summer, the southern end of McGill street was bustling when we made our way to Ikanos. Located on the same block as the popular cocktail/seafood spot Speakeasy as well as l’Appartement resto-lounge and just a little south of le Confessional bar, Ikanos is tapping into Old Montreal nightlife with a tempting late-night menu. For $24 per person,  from 10 p.m. to midnight, the restaurant offers four dishes (mezzes, in the Mediterranean parlance) to share, an affordable introduction to their refined, modern approach to Greek cuisine.

Before we dig in to the food, the space’s aesthetic is worth a mention. This is as far from the standard Montreal mom-and-pop Greek restaurants and souvlaki joints as you can imagine, and it looks nothing like the bright, palatial Milos, either. It’s nice enough in daylight, with tan leather banquettes and similarly hued tables, chairs and flooring, with darker, distressed wooden support columns, a Japanese-style sliding  door, a pair of blue and white paintings evoking the Greek flag and a cluster of small bulbs as light fixtures over the cash. But at night, with the lights dimmed and each table candlelit, it transforms into an ideal date spot.

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Grilled sea bass

A glass of Gerovassiliou evangelo wine (a syrah and viognier blend) from Epanomi, Greece and three slices of fluffy sourdough bread (with a generous bowl of olive oil) preceded the first of our mezzes. A plate of fried zucchini chips, lightly battered (tempura style) came with a delicious dipping sauce made with garlic and kefalograviera (a hard goat cheese). The chips alone weren’t terribly exciting, but that addictive sauce made the dish disappear fast.

Next came mushroom raviolis, striking a close to perfect balance of flavours and textures, with peas, fava beans, pearl onions, roasted garlic cream, more kefalograviera and greens.

In a possible tie for best mezze, the grilled sea bass was crispy on top and tender underneath, with red and yellow peppers, a cherry tomato confit, a small bed of fregola (a pasta reminiscent of Israeli couscous) and a few splashes of lemon and vermouth broth, poured over the dish at the table.

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Pan-seared scallops

Our other seafood choice, pan-seared scallops on a celery root purée, topped with foie gras terrine and an apricot and caper salsa, was both decadent and delicate, its eclectic flavours contrasting beautifully, never clashing. (You may notice that this dish is not on the late-night menu on the restaurant’s website, but we were allowed to choose from the full menu du soir well after 10 p.m., and not due to any special treatment.)

Without even delving into the enticing dessert or cocktail list, we left Ikanos more than satisfied. This glamorous Old Montreal outpost for fine Greek cuisine is highly recommended. ■

Ikanos

112 McGill, 514-842-0867

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