Ask who the most talented Portuguese chef in Montreal is and the answer will likely be Helena Loureiro. Her restaurant Portus Calle on St-Laurent in the heart of the Portuguese ghetto is easily the best one in the city. That is until she opened a second establishment, her eponymous restaurant Helena a few weeks ago in Old Montreal. Helena’s opening was one of the most anticipated ones of this summer and I was more than happy when it was finally time to give it a try during a media launch dinner.
Helena is a Portuguese brasserie serving the sunny flavours of Portugal in a gorgeous setting. Intricate ceilings, warm colours, plushy seats and dark wood furniture meet high arcade windows and exposed, white-washed brick and grey stone in this beautiful Old Montreal location. The restaurant can accommodate about 100 people with a beautiful private room in the back that accommodates 40 people and is perfect for any kind of party.
Helena serves hot and cold pestiscos (Portuguese tapas) to be shared among friends. Those were some of my favourite dishes sampled that night. Among the cold pestiscos, I highly recommend the octopus carapccio with squid ink purée and the grilled asparagus salad, serrano, almonds & São Jorge cheese. Among the hot ones, the cod croquettes with piri piri aioli and the mixed squid, octopus and chouriço grill were just outstanding.
The menu also has a large section of fish and seafood or meat based main dishes. If you’re a meat lover, the grilled skirt steak, chouriço sauce, straw potatoes and egg yolk will surely hit the spot. The Gaspor farm suckling pig confit with clams and fresh coriander was also a much loved dish of mine, but then again, I can never resist a good pork belly confit. The plates all look beautiful and seem to shine from within with an extra dose of sunshine. Must be the influence of Helena herself who has a smile that can light up a room. Don’t forget to order dessert, especially a pastel de nata or Portuguese egg tart. The ones at Helena come to the table all warm and soft and are the perfect way to end a delicious evening.
In the already crowded restaurant scene of Old Montreal, the Portuguese restaurant Helena is surely an address that will stand out among the many others.
438 McGill Avenue
+1 514 878 1555
Monday – Friday 11:30am – 2:30pm
Monday – Saturday 5:30pm – 11pm