I had never heard of this restaurant, neither had I ever seen it whenever we drove past it on Saint-Laurent. Regardless of its unassuming neighbours, the inside décor and food could not have been more different, in the best way possible!
When you face the sleek exterior and walk through the door, the humble décor make the tables filled with cheery diners and the food on their plates the center of attention. The bar takes up a significant portion of the space with neatly laid out place settings along the counter and a few bar tables scattered around the room made of thick, repurposed wood; the things I would do for a table like that.
We needed several sips of our drinks before making any decisions. Although the menu was short and sweet, everything sounded beyond delicious; even more so after hearing the passionate descriptions from our waiter. Because we were the whole fam at dinner, we made sure to get a decent selection from their menu and taste around accordingly.
I started off with a Hamachi entrée served with grapefruit, fennel, and for texture, a delicately rich whipped cream and gel. This tuna sashimi/tartare really surprised me; I have slowly started to appreciate cured fish lately, precisely for reasons like this dish. The mix of textures and gentle flavours combine in a way that I really hadn’t expected in a lightness that hit the palate with delicacy.
Other popular dishes at our table were the tagliatelle with braised pork in a creamy sauce and the foie gras with apple and maple syrup. The later here was another delicious combination that mixed a rich foie gras with tart apple slices and a dash of sweetness from the syrup. It really had all your taste buds guessing.
It had helped to see the girls at the neighbouring table receive their dishes because the plating and colours made my next decision a little easier. The cappelletti with lobster was my selection from their yummy menu. The flavourful lobster was placed in between four large cappelletti that oozed out when cut. For extra crunch there were slices of chestnut and pieces of clementine that used it’s acidity to cut through the creamy, rich sauce.
On all the plates at our table, mushrooms were incorporated in some way. If you weren’t a mushroom fan before, I swear these would have completely changed your mind. Each plate presented another delicious variety that was full in flavour unlike any grocery store could supply. These weren’t your typical mushrooms; their one of a kind shapes and earthy flavours were definitely farmed by someone who knew their stuff.
I had little bites from other family members’ plates to give me an even better perception of the fantastic skills and techniques that this kitchen holds. The bass had been replaced with halibut for the night that had a crisp outer skin and warm, flaky inside. The special veal duo was delicious, coming from someone who isn’t normally a fan; which I think goes a long way. The venison, the red meat on the menu, also had tons of flavour and was presented with the most delicious coffee-chocolate sauce I could have ever imagined; without being too creamy, sweet, or bitter, the perfect combination rounded out a whole slew of flavours.
Last but definitely not least, the other stand-out dish was the perfectly grilled scallops. Paired with roasted cauliflower, mushrooms, pear, and watercress, the buttery sauce tied all these together. Although it was a super creamy dish, the butter did nothing but highlight the scallops and make them the center of the dish. Need I say the plating was also stunning!
And no meal is complete, especially for a birthday, without dessert! Between the five of us, we picked four desserts: a chocolate ganache, chocolate and waffles, a pear molasses cake, and the mignardises plate with a selection of truffles, raspberry jellies, and little almond tartlets. By far the chocolatiest was the Belgian waffle with thick chocolate sauce and cookie bits scattered around the plate and pieces of clementine. The chocolate ganache was probably the table favourite which was extremely thick, dense, and an excellent balance between sweet and bitter; this one went quickly. The mignardises (what a fun word!) were also delicious and very popular at our table!
Although it wasn’t a table favourite because of the parsnip ice cream, the pear molasses cake I found to be a great combination of flavours and I really enjoyed it. When combined with the sweet molasses cake and toffee bits, the parsnip ice cream was a great way to not add sweetness but add both temperature and texture to the dish. If you’re not a huge foodie, then maybe this one might not be for you, but too bad if you aren’t.
I have to say I made the best choice possible for celebrating my birthday! We all got to try a new restaurant and the food, service, and character were all beyond what I expected; what a knockout!
As I sit back and sip on my Java Chai Latte, my last few drops of Montreal, I realize that I can’t wait to be back home for the summer; but until then, the rest of my semester awaits back in TO where I’ll be writing from next.