Forget the quaint neighbourhoods, the plateau and the old port, at least for a night;
Go downtown to Crescent Streest for artful, quality cooking without pretension.
Strange I know, but it’s true.
Even the group menu was stellar
I was there with a crowd of students from the Laval cooking school and a set menu, so it’s not like I was living a normal night out.. I certainly would have ordered much more extravagantly and had a lot more wine, so I figure this experience is only a glance of what they have to offer. Still, it was extremely good. The food was simple but interesting, technically spot on, very tasty. I will definitely be back. I can’t wait.
Jerusalem artichoke soup with mustard yogurt foam
-tasted like just that, perfect
House smoked ham, bresaola, smoked duck, pintade rillettes, paté landais
-all excellent, only the last didn’t WOW
-served with pickled baby carrots, pickled Honey Crisp apples and moutarde violette
Pintade supreme with celery root –mustard purée, vegetables (brussel sprout leaves, turnip slices, yellow foot chanterelles..), and foie gras jus, quince purée
-nice cuisson, truly delicious vegetables; I wouldn’t have minded more sauce, but with the quince and the buttery celery root, there was enough moisture to ensure juicy bites to the end
Green apple, olive oil, white chocolate yogurt mousse with roasted pistachios, green apple granité
-Extraordinary! Fresh, delicate, deep, surprising, delicious to the last green bittersweet bite.
His signature pot de crème with chocolate cream, cookie and Maldon salt caramel mousse in a mason jar
-scrumptious, sweet and chocolaty, I just love the salt crystals in the decadent mélange.. I had a hard time finishing, but I’m not a sweet girl. I saw another girl polish off two in minutes.
Mignardises: Passion fruit marshmallows, coffee chocolates on a stick
I was done with the sweets by this point but still managed to eat my share; they were excellent.
You must realize - I normally have trouble facing one dessert, let alone two or three; only with Patrice can this go down. He has a delicate touch, always something sour or bitter or salty or stimulating going on to wake up the taste buds; his desserts aren’t all eggs, butter and sugar, often fruit based and lighter. I can hardly believe it, but on perusing the menu, I found myself thinking how anxious I was to return to try his other desserts (after the rock shrimp and pork belly of course).
I keep talking about Patrice Demers (he’s just so talented and lovable), but obviously Marc André Jetté holds up his end on the salty side, which of course is the most important, eh! (Cook vs. pasty jab, c’mon I can’t help it). I was impressed with him at Laloux too. As are the rest of the set of Montrealers who pay attention to food, but he too remains modest and earnest, only quietly ambitious. So rare in young ones today. They are a marvel to me. They make me smile on the inside, especially after eating so well.
One little minor thing that perhaps not many people care about, but I can’t help but point out.. For a change, the food tasted like it was supposed to (given what the menu suggested). This evening, it so happens that I arrived late and had no knowledge of the menu beforehand, but I nailed all the elements in tasting the dishes, exclaiming to my neighbours what we were eating while they were guessing. The waitress came around to describe the plates before us only to confirm my hunches. Jerusalem artichoke soup with mustard yogurt foam tasted like Jerusalem artichoke, then yogurt and then mustard, Pintade with celery root and quince - like pintade with celery root and quince! Honestly, this rarely happens. In other words, the flavours are clean and pronounced, focused, well orchestrated; they deliver on what is promised. Besides everything being top notch! It was only with the lollipop that I found the coffee flavour too subtle (but maybe that was because I was drinking coffee at the time). They should figure that in though because everyone does and punch it up.
All in all, I have only good things to say. I’m not one to talk about décor, ambiance or bathrooms, which are all fine, and besides the point. Especially when there is Quality, Passion, Thoughtfulness and Finesse on the plate! It’s all there - how refreshing. This cooking is fine tuned and tasty without too much flafla; they are using great ingredients and taking care of the details in the kitchen. I just hope the Crescent street clientele can see that. Ya right, and oh well. As long as they come in and spend money. Better yet, I hope that enough gourmands come from across the city downtown to eat some of the best unassuming food in Montreal.
Imagine that. Downtown on Crescent St.. How times change.
And la Montée is right around the corner, another plateau favourite to rediscover in finer digs - next on my (downtown) list.
Don't forget to look for Patrice's new cookbook available in bookstores now! A great foodie gift.