Atame: Montreal's Aphrodisiac Restaurant
Atame: Montreal's Chief Aphrodisiac Locale
Pedro Almodovar fans already have an inkling of what Montreal's Atame is all about. The Spanish filmmaker's 1990 hit starring Antonio Banderas shares the same name as Montreal's flagship for all things aphrodisiac. It's Spanish for “tie me” or “tie me up.” It's also the name for a gay bar in Barcelona, but in Montreal, Atame goes beyond sexual orientation to represent sensuality across the board, in all its facets. Literally.
2016 UPDATE: Unfortunately, Atame is permanently closed for business.
Atame: Who Told You It Was Only a Restaurant?
Prior to its official opening on October 5, 2013, Argentine native and Atame owner Gaston Alberto Barcelo had been working on the concept for three years, using his proverbial sixth sense to find clever ways to incorporate activities and menu items that stimulate the remaining five, be it touch through complimentary neck massages by a professional masseuse as you wait for your table, sight at the come-hither of a burlesque performance, Argentine tango or all-male fashion show, or aural appreciation through live jazz or erotic poetry recitals. Barcelo adds, “I call [Atame] a restaurant because I want people to know that we serve food but to me, it's between a cabaret, a lounge, a restaurant, and an art gallery. It's gonna be a little bit of everything,” citing Moulin Rouge and Crazy Horse as two big inspirations.
Atame: This One's for the Ladies
But don't be fooled into thinking entertainment is geared primarily toward men. Barcelo made it clear that shows are designed to stimulate women too.
When it came to design, decor and menu, Barcelo was especially inspired by the fairer sex. “An aphrodisiac from a woman's perspective is about stimulating the imagination,” says Barcelo. “When a woman comes here, they'll see the little details. They'll look at the lights, they'll look at the shows, they'll hear the music, and the food...” Yes. The food. Having had a chance to try a few dishes, more than a few women (and men) will melt just a little bit after tasting Atame's signature oysters served with passionfruit jelly and a litchi mignonette sauce, the sweetness of the fruit counterintuitively cutting through the usual salty brine that characterizes east coast bivalves.
And the beef tartare made with cocoa and tonka beans—the dark brown wrinkly beans taste like vanilla and have an aroma reminiscent of cinnamon, cloves and almonds—is SUBLIME, a delightful change of pace to the usual parmesan shavings with truffle oil pairing. And chocolate brownies—hard on the outside, soft on the inside—submerged in gooey caramel and then dipped again in Amarula milkshake? PERFECT. Sweet as hell, and so very, very perfect.
Atame's Aphrodisiacs: Tried and Tested
So where do the actual aphrodisiacs come in? Just point at a menu item. I already mentioned a few, from the oysters to the cocoa to the Amarula.
As mentioned before, Barcelo spent the better part of three years planning every angle of Atame, which included actually figuring out which aphrodisiacs work. The problem is most of them do not have the research to back up their stimulating claims, so Barcelo did the best he could outside of a double-blind experimental design (which costs a small fortune to put together, by the way).
The Argentine tested a slew of aphrodisiacs himself. More than 50 of them. And whatever worked best for him (and by extension, his lucky lady) made the menu, including catuaba, a rainforest plant that's been used in traditional Brazilian medicine for generations to stimulate erections. Apparently, Horny Goat Weed passed Barcelo's test as well. It certainly didn't go undetected by the fabled shepherd who noticed his goat herd turned into rabbits after grazing on the Chinese plant.
But were any of the aphrodisiacs he tried a little too effective for Atame's menu? “I tried them ALL and they worked,” says Barcelo, adding, “but there's a few of them that are very intense. Like yohimbe. Yohimbe? It's like Viagra. And I know. I tried Viagra as part of my research and I can tell you, Yohimbe is like the same effect. It's very powerful. And I think it's too much [for our menu].”
Other sources agree, requesting the public consult a doctor before ingesting. So you won't find Yohimbe at Atame, but pretty much every menu item has one, if not several, safe ingredients ripe with nightcap potential. Wink wink.
Atame: To Make Reservations
Call (514) 667-5848 for more information. Note that special events (burlesque performances, live jazz, live Argentine tango, fashion shows, erotic poetry readings, complimentary neck massages, etc.) are most likely scheduled on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Ask staff about what's coming up when calling. And to up the intimacy and romance ambiance, request a table by the windows adorned with white curtains.
Atame: Menu Items
View the menu here.
Atame: Private Room for Parties?
There's no private room per se but there is a section in the L-shaped dining room area that can be closed off with a curtain with enough room to accommodate roughly 30 people. An extra 20-ish seats just outside the curtained area can be added to the fold as well. The restaurant as a whole welcomes up to 130 patrons at one time.
Atame: Business Hours
Open Wednesday to Saturday from 6 p.m. to midnight.
351 Duluth East, corner of Drolet, Montreal, QC H2W 1J3
Any Reviews of Atame?
In line with About.com's full disclosure policy, readers should be aware that Evelyn Reid was provided with complimentary access to the restaurant and select dishes, a common but generally undisclosed procedure in the food/lifestyle publishing industry. Also note that the latter gratuity has not influenced this profile, although it should be noted that the above profile is just that. A profile. This is not a review. Staff, for obvious invitational reasons, were fully aware of Evelyn Reid’s identity, which may have had an impact on the service aspect of the treatment as well as the food preparation and presentation.
Atame Aphrodisiac Restaurant Menu
Click on the menu to see it in larger format. Please note that menu items and prices may change without notice.