Bistro Cocagne, Montreal – In my top 3 bistrots in Montreal

Click here for a recap of  my picks of all Montreal’s top fine dining & best Montreal’s bistrots.
Also: My  3 and 2 Star Michelin restaurant review web site
Most recent reviews: Maison Boulud, Café Sardine, Restaurant Helena, Brasserie Central, Restaurant Mezcla, Hotel Herman, Lawrence,
Park, Kazu, Hambar, La Porte, Au pied de cochon , Le Margaux.

 

Recent update ***Meal on Friday August 30th 2013, 18:00
Corn is in season at this moment, so corn cream (7/10) had beautiful luscious texture, the taste delicious, the creamy consistency balanced well (light and yet with proper body to it). Nordic shrimp accras (5/10) –there’s no name for accras in English, they are some sort of fried dumplings very popular in creole cuisine —  did disappoint  me  since I had some of the best accras in town right here, under this same roof. This time they lacked the heat  and exciting plump texture of last minute  made accras. I also found Nordic shrimp to be too subtle for accras to be exciting. Accras are fantastic with cod or any meat which mouthfeel can be deeply felt. Or else, the accras taste bland, at least to my palate. A simple beef filet steak  had nice deep fresh meaty flavor, cooked to ideal tenderness (7/10). All in all, this one was an Ok meal, just not  among the finest I had here.

 

 

Bistro Cocagne
Date and Time: December 31st 2012 18:30PM
Type of food:  North American (QC’s) Market cuisine Bistro
Location: Addr: 3842 Rue Saint Denis, Montreal, QC

Phone: 514-286-0700
Web site: http://www.bistro-cocagne.com

Food rating: Exceptional (10),Excellent (9), Very good (8), Good (7),  Just Ok (6)

French(review in English will follow): Au vu de cette soirée ci du 31/12/2012 , fort bien réussie, Le Bistro Cocagne continue à se maintenir  dans le peloton de tête des bistrots Montréalais. À mon avis, facilement dans le top 5 des bistrots locaux (avec le Lawrence, Au 5e Peche, Bouillon Bilk et Kitchen Galerie sur Jean Talon). Comme à tout restaurant, vos favoris ne faisant point exception,  j’ y ai évidemment dégusté des plats meilleurs que d’autres au fil des années, et connu des repas spectaculaires et d’autres moins.Mais la qualité des produits, le niveau technique, ainsi que le travail du gout  furent d’une régularité quasi irréprochable. Un restaurant se maintient dans le peloton de tête grace à sa capacité de se surpasser par des repas qui sont occasionellement (il serait utopique  de s’attendre à de l’exceptionnel à chaque détour …un restaurant ca n’est pas un spectacle de magie constante à la Walt Disney ;p) exceptionnels, et de tels performances, j’en ai de temps à autre vécu l’expérience à ce bistrot.  Il y’a eu aussi, bien sûr,  les moins bons coups, tel que cette ‘macaronade au foie gras’ pourtant si populaire (preuve et rappel que tout ceci n’est que subjectif, il ne sert donc à rien d’en faire un plat..ce ne sont que des avis…héritage de notre culture démocratique et clin d’œil au fait que tous les goûts sont dans la nature;p) mais que j’ai trouvé un peu trop lourd et surtout banal, ou encore cette éternelle entrée de‘raviole’ qui me parut  naguère épatante, beaucoup moins avec le temps ..et cela malgré les variations du contenu de la raviole –par exemple, parfois avec de la viande de bison, parfois avec d’autres types de viande — (les plats signatures ont parfois cette facheuse tendance à souffrir  de l’évolution des …tendances. Si ce plat est toujours un plat-phare c’est que beaucoup doivent l’apprécier. Tant mieux pour ce plat, mais pour moi ca ne passe plus l’épreuve du temps). Mais voilà, et  c’est ainsi que je prends la pleine mesure d’un grand bistrot : même dans les moments les moins mémorables, la performance demeura tout de meme au-delà de la moyenne de ce qui se fait dans la pluspart des autres bistrots. Je peux me tromper (à preuve : les plats que j’ai moins apprécié sont hyper populaires et l’un de mes meilleurs repas ici fut composé de choix à la carte ) mais j’ai  personnellement pu mieux apprécier la pleine capacité de ce très bon bistrot au travers de leurs menus ‘dégustation’ plutôt que dans le menu à la carte (sans vins, sans folies, comme n’importe où, je pense qu’on s’en sort avec un excellent rapport qualité prix). Quant au menu dégustation de ce 31/12/2012, absolument rien à redire: le boudin blanc fut ravissant en textures et en saveurs,  le reste tout à fait à la hauteur d’un grand repas bistrot.

31/12/2012 – Everyone in Montreal has his/her own idea of the finest bistrot in town, but the fact of the matter is that Montreal is not Tokyo nor San Sebastian,which means there are not that many choices of real top bistrot to pretend playing around with multiple suggestions.

Let us face it: there is just a handful of top bistrot options here, and by handful  I mean no more than a dozen, and that is a big reasonable maximum. I know it sounds hilarious to spot such a tiny quantity of top bistrots  in a city with 6000 dining options and more, but again…Montreal is not the dining destination it thinks it is. Far from that. I can tell you that more than half of those eateries would have long gone bankrupt in many places abroad.

Bistro Cocagne has always been, in my view, throughout the years and despite the variable nature of all operational restaurants (sometimes at their best, sometimes ‘running out of steam’)  — your  finest ones are no exception —- one of the few that kept itself consistently among Montreal’s top 5 finest bistrots. Given that all tables will, anyways, always have off days and weaknesses, I believe that the proper way of evaluating a dining venture is to see how far it can go when it is in its prime.  Consequently, the most accurate way to compare them is to evaluate their better performances. In their prime (of course, they are not always at their very top, naturally) , I could see only bistrots like Bistro Cocagne, Kitchen Galerie on Jean Talon, Bouillon Bilk, Lawrence and Au Cinquième Péché truely standing out of the pack. Like to hear this or not: it is as good as it really gets at the finest bistrot level in town, at this moment.

There are of course other little favourite of mine, ones that I truly enjoy like M sur Masson and Au Pied de Cochon, but their finest performances did not appear to me as strong as the heights that the likes of Bistro Cocagne, Kitchen Galerie on Jean Talon, Bouillon Bilk, Lawrence and Au Cinquième Péché can reach.

Did I  purposely forget the more classic bistrots? Absolutely NOT! The more classic ones are pleasant and I do frequent them once in a while, but they are by no means outstanding ones. I mean, go visit a simple laidback classic bistrot like la table D’Aki in Paris, and that is just one random example –not even the 1st choice that pops up as a top classic bistrot when you ask most Parisians — , come back, pick whatever you think is a top classic bistrot in Montreal and tell me if you still want to argue, Lol. Not that I am comparing Paris with Montreal, but certainly to get the idea of what can properly be qualified as a top classic Bistrot as far as food goes. It is one thing to think that a bistrot is top, it is another story to get it right ;p

Up to my meal at Bistro Cocagne.On this evening, the offer is a new year eve’s tasting menu.  No pics since Janice and I wanted this dinner to be fully intimate, thus devoid of the distraction of taking pictures of the meal.

The meal started with some amuses of refined foie gras cromesquis. They do those really well here: ideal consistency, fresh enticing taste.

Next:

Saumon mi-cuit, crêpe de pomme de terre, émulsion à la lime et caviar de Tobiko  – Quality of ingredient has always been high at this bistrot, and this was no exception : impeccably sourced salmon, the ‘mi-cuit’cooking providing the expected enjoyable contrast between tender low-temp Vs firmer cooked flesh.The salmon was encased in a mini “potato crepe” posing on a layer of deeply delicious beurre blanc sauce.  A simple item at first glance, but this was proper “top bistrot” item (the execution, the sourcing).  Very good.  8/10

Boudin blanc à la truffe, purée decéleri rave, pleurotes érigées, bok choi, jus au vinaigre d’érable–  It is the first time I am having boudin blanc at Bistro Cocagne. It is with items like these that it is easy to see why  Bistro Cocagne is a highly regarded bistrot. From the irreproachable ideal temperature, right amount of heat, divine taste, this boudin blanc was easily competing  with the finest boudin blanc I had in France. This was a reminder that memory of taste passed from generations to generations is the key ingredient to food that has soul. Excellent  9/10

Terrine de foie gras, beurre de pomme à l’érable – Well sourced quality foie gras with stand out dense and creamy texture. Very good  8/10

Noix de cerf poêlé et collier braisé, trompettes des morts, sauce périgourdine – High quality fresh venison meat (they use venison here, in place of the popular ) cooked beautifully, with taste to match. Here again, the selection of the cut (noix de cerf  is gets praised for the right reasons ) is of prime mention. 8.5/10

Fromage 1608 fondu sur abricots et amandes, croûtons  et huile de pistache  –   Fromage 1608 is a famous Non-pasteurized (thermized) cheese from Charlevoix (Laiterie Charlevoix de Baie-Saint-Paul ),an area known for what count among the finest diary produce of Quebec province.The particularity of this widely praised cheese being that it is made with the milk of a very rare breedof cattle (only 200, but Charlevoix is not the only place where you can find them), the ‘Canadienne breed”, which in 1999 was considered by Quebec government as part of the province’s agricultural heritage. I found this to be a successful and creative diary-based culinary interpretation .  8/10

Chibouste chocolat, sablé cacao, crème vanille et réduction de griotte –  Good (7/10) I am not a fan of chocolate in general, therefore it takes mountains of prouesse for a choco-based item to satisfy me, but this was certainly properly executed, using fine ingredients. Just to give you a visual idea, it looked a bit like the entremet mousse au chocolat you can see here.

As usual, there is not much to pique at with such a very good bistrot. Unless the Mayans are right and a real new cycle of life is under way, with people’s palates being resetted, Rfaol.. there is no  major problem to foresee with the cooking here. It is an updated take on classic French/North American bistrot fares  that is well executed, delicious and as good as you will get from  what Montreal is currently offering at its  finest bistrot levels.

Wine pairing (I went with wines by the glass) on this evening has been  remarkable as usual,with beautiful discoveries throughout. The finest bistrots  of this city (Cocagne, Bouillon Bilk, Kitchen Galerie on Jean-Talon, Lawrence, Au 5e Péché) doing a fantastic job in the aspect of selecting exciting privately imported wines.

Pros (of this meal of 31/12/2012): In the top 5, to be safe and as accurate as I could in my evaluation  (I personally would situate it in top 3) of Montreal’s finest bistrots as proven once again by this evening’s tasting menu. As usual, Bistro Cocagne managing to pull the best out of  well sourced ingredients. Special mention too for the service: warm, welcoming, knowledgeable while remaining pro.

Cons (of this meal of 31/12/2012) :  None on this evening

My overall food rating for this evening’s dinner (meal of 31/12/2012):  By the finest Bistrots standards in Montreal (for example: in comparison to the better performances of Lawrence, Au 5e Péché, Bouillon Bilk,  Kitchen Galerie Poisson on Jean Talon), I would rate this meal with a strong  8/10 – An overall very good bistrot meal (updated classic French/North American bistrot), as I came to expect from Bistro Cocagne.

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Aromes restaurant reviews (Montreal) – A recap

 ***This is an anonymous private and personal initiative: I went to all the restaurants that are known to stand out in Montreal (this naturally explains the general positive reviews you will read, and yet ..even the best do sometimes fail as you will realize on a few occasions through your readings) and found for myself. , Enjoy!
***Click on a restaurant’s  name to read its  full detailed photo text   review
***The   * sign signifies that the meal had potential of  top level for enjoyment and cooking (
worths passing by if you happen to be around),  the ** means it was of the highest level one could find in Montreal at this moment ( worth leaving the comfort of home  to attend the dinner).
***What to look for in my reviews? I apply myself to be as concise as possible. Even if I do not like a meal, if it is well cooked, for ie, I’ll have to be honest about it. So, you should look at  the rating over 10 for my ultimate opinion on a dish, since that rating goes with the level of enjoyment detected by my taste buds (8 is very good food, 9 is excellent and 10 is food that would be hard to improve upon) . Meals of top level are those with at least two 9/10, or one 9/10 and a 10/10. Click here for more on my rating system.
***Last but not least: to maximize your chances of enjoying a good meal, chose to dine on a Friday or Saturday evenings (more likely to get the good Chef working on those evenings), start earlier rather than late (food is fresher). In Montreal, currently, there’s no big change at the upper level of dining (fine dining, top bistro): Chefs
Mercuri,JF Belair, Navarrette,Laprise,Loiseau,Lenglet,Belair,Rouyé,Axel/Cloutier,PelletierFerrer, Juneau , Derek,  Chef Eric Gonzalez at Auberge Le Saint Gabriel are still the reigning kings of what stands out in Montreal.
 
My top tier favourite restaurants in Montreal:
XO Le Restaurant (Fine dining, Modern European) **         
Restaurant Raza  (Fine Dining, Modern Latino/French Fusion) *
Restaurant La Porte  (Fine Dining, Modern French) ** 
Restaurant L’un des Sens (Fine Dining, Modern French/North American) ** 
Bistro Cocagne  (Bistro, North American) **
Le Marly (Fine Dining, North American/French – Closed)**
Kitchen Galerie (Bistro, North American) ** 
Au cinquième péché (Bistro, Modern French) **   
Bouillon Bilk  (Bistro, Modern French/Cosmopolitan) **
M sur Masson   (Bistro, North American) *  
Kazu (Japanese Bistrot) **
Lawrence (British/Intl Gastro pub)**


Montreal: Sushi-yas, ethnic food, macarons that stood out
+Review of Montreal sushi places that stood out during my latest tour of all major Mtl sushi-yas
+My top 15 best dinners in Montreal & Surroundings
+Montreal major macarons boutiques that stood out
+My top 10 best food items of all my Montreal dinners
+Montreal’s best roasted chicken
+Best Pizza in Montreal
+Montreal ethnic food by Aromes

My Favourite classic French tables in Montreal:
They are those restaurants where I love going back, because classic French cuisine is my favourite food and they do it better than most: Le Bonaparte (all Chefs missing filet mignons, bisque..etc..please pay a visit here ..you will understand what I’m looking for) , Le Margaux, le Mas des Oliviers and Chez La Mère Michel. Had one of those three tables decided to close, I’d be saddened! Simply the best classic French in town! Please never ever let modern trends distract you: you are simply the BEST!

Mtl restaurant reviews by categories:
Fine dining:
XO(** ), Toque(**)!, La Porte(** ), Club Chasse & Peche (** ), L’auberge Saint-Gabriel (*), Europea (* ), DNA (*), La Chronique( *) , Nuances (*  closed for renovation)Restaurant L’inconnu (Closed*), Raza (*),La Maison Boulud (*),  Osco!, RenoirNewtown.
Bistro:
Bouillon Bilk (**), Bistro Cocagne (** ), Kitchen Galerie (** ), La Montée (** closed), F Bar (*), Comptoir charcuterie & vins (*), Café Sardine (*), Cuisine et Dependance (* closed), Brasserie Central, Mezcla, Hotel Herman , Chez Victoire, Joli moulin (closed),   Au Pied de Cochon, Lucille’s oyster dive, Mas Cuisine, Le Quartier General, Le Filet, Le Chien fumant, KG Poisson ,Restaurant Helena, Le Margaux, Hambar, Brasserie Centrale, Kazu, Lawrence, Park  , Hotel Herman,    Laloux,
Oriental, Fusion: Jun I (**), Biron  (Closed)

Outside of Montreal:
L’Eau a la bouche ** (Perfect 10 on a  first dinner there,  slightly less impressed by a second dinner, but I could easily  name a good dozen of  1 star michelin tables that  have not done better than EAB), Poivre Noir ** (they can hit highs pertaining to solid 2 michelin potential), Restaurant L’initiale * ( One of the very few Relais & Chateaux of Eastern Canada: I was not blown away, but the food was skillfully well done and I am sure that a dinner there might fare better), Restaurant Quintessence * in Tremblant (That reported last dinner there was of world class material. I’d say that specific dinner  was easily of 1* Michelin potential), Les Zebres * (Val David, a bistro that stood out).

Non-Montreal contents:
My 3-star Michelin website is now available (click on the following picture to access the site):

Standard

Aromes restaurant reviews (Montreal) – A recap

 ***This is an anonymous private and personal initiative: I went to all the restaurants that are known to stand out in Montreal (this naturally explains the general positive reviews you will read, and yet ..even the best do sometimes fail as you will realize on a few occasions through your readings) and found for myself. , Enjoy!
***Click on a restaurant’s  name to read its  full detailed photo text   review
***The   * sign signifies that the meal had potential of  top level for enjoyment and cooking (
worths passing by if you happen to be around),  the ** means it was of the highest level one could find in Montreal at this moment ( worth leaving the comfort of home  to attend the dinner).
***What to look for in my reviews? I apply myself to be as concise as possible. Even if I do not like a meal, if it is well cooked, for ie, I’ll have to be honest about it. So, you should look at  the rating over 10 for my ultimate opinion on a dish, since that rating goes with the level of enjoyment detected by my taste buds (8 is very good food, 9 is excellent and 10 is food that would be hard to improve upon) . Meals of top level are those with at least two 9/10, or one 9/10 and a 10/10. Click here for more on my rating system.
***Last but not least: to maximize your chances of enjoying a good meal, chose to dine on a Friday or Saturday evenings (more likely to get the good Chef working on those evenings), start earlier rather than late (food is fresher). In Montreal, currently, there’s no big change at the upper level of dining (fine dining, top bistro): Chefs
Mercuri,JF Belair, Navarrette,Laprise,Loiseau,Lenglet,Belair,Rouyé,Axel/Cloutier,PelletierFerrer, Juneau , Derek,  Chef Eric Gonzalez at Auberge Le Saint Gabriel are still the reigning kings of what stands out in Montreal.
 
My top tier favourite restaurants in Montreal:
XO Le Restaurant (Fine dining, Modern European) **         
Restaurant Raza  (Fine Dining, Modern Latino/French Fusion) *
Restaurant La Porte  (Fine Dining, Modern French) ** 
Restaurant L’un des Sens (Fine Dining, Modern French/North American) ** 
Bistro Cocagne  (Bistro, North American) **
Le Marly (Fine Dining, North American/French – Closed)**
Kitchen Galerie (Bistro, North American) ** 
Au cinquième péché (Bistro, Modern French) **   
Bouillon Bilk  (Bistro, Modern French/Cosmopolitan) **
M sur Masson   (Bistro, North American) *  
Kazu (Japanese Bistrot) **
Lawrence (British/Intl Gastro pub)**


Montreal: Sushi-yas, ethnic food, macarons that stood out
+Review of Montreal sushi places that stood out during my latest tour of all major Mtl sushi-yas
+My top 15 best dinners in Montreal & Surroundings
+Montreal major macarons boutiques that stood out
+My top 10 best food items of all my Montreal dinners
+Montreal’s best roasted chicken
+Best Pizza in Montreal
+Montreal ethnic food by Aromes

My Favourite classic French tables in Montreal:
They are those restaurants where I love going back, because classic French cuisine is my favourite food and they do it better than most: Le Bonaparte (all Chefs missing filet mignons, bisque..etc..please pay a visit here ..you will understand what I’m looking for) , Le Margaux, le Mas des Oliviers and Chez La Mère Michel. Had one of those three tables decided to close, I’d be saddened! Simply the best classic French in town! Please never ever let modern trends distract you: you are simply the BEST!

Mtl restaurant reviews by categories:
Fine dining:
XO(** ), Toque(**)!, La Porte(** ), Club Chasse & Peche (** ), L’auberge Saint-Gabriel (*), Europea (* ), DNA (*), La Chronique( *) , Nuances (*  closed for renovation)Restaurant L’inconnu (Closed*), Raza (*),La Maison Boulud (*),  Osco!, RenoirNewtown.
Bistro:
Bouillon Bilk (**), Bistro Cocagne (** ), Kitchen Galerie (** ), La Montée (** closed), F Bar (*), Comptoir charcuterie & vins (*), Café Sardine (*), Cuisine et Dependance (* closed), Brasserie Central, Mezcla, Hotel Herman , Chez Victoire, Joli moulin (closed),   Au Pied de Cochon, Lucille’s oyster dive, Mas Cuisine, Le Quartier General, Le Filet, Le Chien fumant, KG Poisson ,Restaurant Helena, Le Margaux, Hambar, Brasserie Centrale, Kazu, Lawrence, Park  , Hotel Herman,    Laloux,
Oriental, Fusion: Jun I (**), Biron  (Closed)

Outside of Montreal:
L’Eau a la bouche ** (Perfect 10 on a  first dinner there,  slightly less impressed by a second dinner, but I could easily  name a good dozen of  1 star michelin tables that  have not done better than EAB), Poivre Noir ** (they can hit highs pertaining to solid 2 michelin potential), Restaurant L’initiale * ( One of the very few Relais & Chateaux of Eastern Canada: I was not blown away, but the food was skillfully well done and I am sure that a dinner there might fare better), Restaurant Quintessence * in Tremblant (That reported last dinner there was of world class material. I’d say that specific dinner  was easily of 1* Michelin potential), Les Zebres * (Val David, a bistro that stood out).

Non-Montreal contents:
My 3-star Michelin website is now available (click on the following picture to access the site):

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Aromes 2009-2010 Top 10 favourite food items in Montreal

XO Le Restaurant’s Free Form Lasagna – It’s being a while since I tried this dish (Oct 10th 2009), so I do not know how it did evolve. But this one I had on that specificc dinner was one triumph of a 3* Michelin caliber meal over the highest standards of fine dining at any corner of this small planet. Here’s how I did describe it, back then:

Called “Free form lasagna”, this dish — I predict — will quickly become the signature dish of their chef, Michele Mercuri: although, at first glance, it might not look like your typical lasagna, it is  packed with all technical goodies of a lasagne: cheese, pasta and so on. But this is a unique luxurious creative version of the lasagna -> as you can see on the picture, it’s more of a “deconstructive” version of it. What the picture wont tell you (and that is why I do predict that this is a signature dish to come) is about the remarquable work that is done in terms of savourishness:  from the small tasty chunks of lobster, succulent braided sweetbreads, enjoyable lobster emulsion, fresh tender baby spinash and oh so lovely stracchino cheese….every little element of that dish was a blast in terms of taste. Impeccably delicious. 5/5 and more if I could!  

Report of that dinner: http://aromes.xanga.com/714228763/montreals-luxurious-tables-xo-le-restaurant/

What do I think, months later:  That specific one dish I had on that evening is still my top #1 dish in Mtl up to now, in the top #5 dish if I include top restaurants that I visited abroad. XO Le Restaurant, along with Toque! are Arome’s top choices for world class fine dining in Montreal at this moment. Currently, easily of solid 2* Michelin caliber based on my two dinners there.

 

Bistro Cocagne’s Braised Lamb/Risotto – This dish shares my 2009-2010 top #1 meal in Montreal with XO Le Restaurant’s Free Form Lasagna. If I include the top tables that I have tried abroad, it’s in the top #3 ever! Yep, as stunning as that! Bistro Cocagne is a market driven table,  so I was a bit sad when I recently found my favourite dish removed from their menu. My description of the dish:

that was a generous portion of fully flavoured, perfectly cooked (awesome braised caramelly textured on the outside, so tender — on the inside — that it would slide off the bone effortlessly). Heavenly! 5/5 for the lamb. So, as those who are used to me already know, I always eat the meat first, then it’s accompaniments separately ->   The accompanying risotto was very interesting and refreshingly different from my usual risottos: it had some fresh enjoyable crunchy corn seeds, pieces of carrots, a perfect lite creamy consistency with a subtle enjoyable touch of sweetness (there was also what looked and tasted like slices of tamarind. I think this was sun-dried tomato, but they did really taste like tamarind. Those were a well thought addition to that savourish risotto). The risotto was evenly seasoned with amazing little savourish crunchy grains of rice (looked like arborio rice, to me).

Report of that dinner: http://aromes.xanga.com/711358238/bistro-cocagne-montreal—friday-sept-4th-1800/

What I think months later: Montreal, wake up! Put pressure for this dish to make a comeback! The laws of supply and demand can make this happen. Borrow my palate for free and it should work, Rfaol!


Club Chasse et Peche’s Braised boar/Brussels sprouts/hazelnuts/Caramelized fig
– I’ll let my description talk for it: ‘’’’Bathed in a very delicious light and flavorful meaty jus (the juice of the braised boar itself), this course has simply stole the show as my 2009 Mtl’s best main course (along with the Free Form Lasagna I had at XO): with a light amazing tasty crusty coating on the outside (basically a light elegant cheesy coating), perfect browny texture, ideally tender on the inside. This marvel-to-the-tastebud wonder was a genius workout of amazing flavorful meaty taste with accompaniments that were creatively so well thought: the hazelnuts in there were not just another ingredients to try…they were a perfect harmonious addition to the rest of this course. The caramelized fig was pure genius food work: intensely rich and tasty, it was the kind of tastebud amazement marvel that secured for good what I think of this cuisine: one of world’s bests. This, folks, would send even the best tables of the world (El Bulli, Fat Duck) to reflexion. Stunned!

 Report of that dinner: http://aromes.xanga.com/716460932/best-tables-of-montreal-le-club-chasse-et-p%C3%AAche/

What I think months later:  Forever stunned !!!….if only I could find more of this where  I do  expect it: at 2,3 Michelin star caliber restaurants.  Should I say more?


Chef Mario Navarrete’ s Tuna ceviche, Mango purée – Most of the dishes that this Latino genius has cooked for me, turned out impressive. I picked one of them, one that is of the next dimension.  This dish is a showcase of precision and exceptional skills. Why? Because in the hands of an average cook, a mango purée is the ticket to overwhelm anything that it is mixed with. In the hands of a genius cook like Chef Navarrete, it is a revelation. The purée, of outstanding light consistency and delicious taste, was of ideal combination with that fresh morsel of tuna (here again, a lot of brilliant work in balancing well the peppery/spicy/acidic marinated  taste of the tuna ceviche). Genius work to let each ingredient oozing in their pristine purity  and yet complementing themselves. This is easily of solid 2 to 3 Michelin star caliber.

Report of the meal: http://aromes.xanga.com/730124457/-the-new-restaurant-of-chef-mario-navarrete-jr-a-table–montreal/

What I think, weeks later: Speechless! Looking forward to more of the innovative cooking of Super Mario!

Chef Martin Juneau’s Butternut squash velouté, Chorizo – Oh my Lord! More of this overload of amazement and I’ll die happy!

The amazement here started with the exceptional textural visuals of this Velouté. In order to do justice to it, I am forced to pick a designation pertaining to the world of fashion/beauty: a glamourous texture! This one I was having on this lunch has a unique dense/glamourous/unique orange texture miles away from the usual orange pumpkin texture (We are all used to what a good pumpkin velouté looks like depending on whether it is deeply ripe or not, but this one’s exceptional texture was the equation of both the pumpkin itself + what the Chef made out of it). It was not too creamy, not too light but at ideal consistency. The work of tastes here was true genius: not only the taste of the velouté on it’s own was exceptionally moving/daring/unique, but the tastebud wonder concerto was not going to end there: couple of tiny slices of deep flawlessly cooked flavored chorizo added a supreme smartly well thought smoky-ness. The slightly-cooked tasty pumkin seeds found in that velouté added an extra dimension of welcoming nutty flavors to this Velouté to end all Veloutés. Note to myself: Finally the velouté that has stole the show from my all time world’s favourite haute fine-dining soup/velouté, Guy Savoy’s signature dish Black truffle artichoke soup! I always remind people that it does not take a myriad of meals to sense the exceptional greatness of a Chef. It takes one meal, convincing enough, to give you a definitive idea of the greatness (or not) of a Chef. This is more than ever the best proof of such statement. There was in that one single food item a showcase of exceptional talent, creativity, an passionate commitment of a Chef to it’s food. An exceptional  dish that pertains to the repertoire of the best food items at any greatest Three Michelin Star. As stunning as that!

PS: They change their menus oftenly, so that Velouté is not a Signature dish and may not necessarily be served regularly.  

Report of that Lunch: http://aromes.xanga.com/723067367/best-restaurants-of-montreal-la-montee/

What I think months later: My personal experience with Juneau’s cuisine has evolved this way ->  (1)A spectacular close to 3-star Michelin caliber lunch on Friday March 5th 2010  (2)A just ok dinner on June 26th 2010 (3) A dinner on May 31st 2011 where I simply had enough and decided to give up on him!


Restaurant Toque !’s Fromage Comtomme, crème au piment d’Espelette, pain craquant, gelée de piment, pomme et graines de tournesol

Instead of offering the traditional plate of cheese, they brillantly concocted a cheese based marvel: caramelized apples with Comtomme cheese (turned into a slight cheesy fondue) might not be exciting on paper,  but this dish is, to my tastebuds, one of the best daring/exciting/tastebud pleasers I could think of this year.  From the nice crunchy mouthsome to the sweet and salty decadent balanced flavors and tastes, each bite of this tastebud marvel  was a decadent propulsion to heaven. Litterally! In terms of moving tastes (as if that was not enoughly decadent, the creamy slighly peppery touch of Espelette chilly was shining through the dish, not to mention the delicious and exciting gelée of chilly) , this was simply a blast!   Largely one item that all the world’s best restaurants would want to steal from Toque!.

Report of that dinner: http://aromes.xanga.com/716627762/best-tables-of-montreal-toque-restaurant/

What do I think, months later: Cheese-based courses need more of that type of fun creativity.


Lamb Tataki at Restaurant  L’inconnu  Perhaps, the best mastered cooking (preparation + execution)  that I sensed behind a meat since a long time. Enjoyably  spicy. That exceptional fresh upfront well balanced and yet daring spicy Soya/Ginger/Chili/Lime taste will mark my souvenirs for a long time. The meat was nicely marinated, of impeccable tenderness, with a depth of flavor that was pure heaven. Fresh fennel completed this amazing dish. Largely a dish pertaining to the level of the best 2* Michelin  tables. One that will set a reference to the most in all accounts: exceptional daring taste, exceptional work of the flavors, exceptional meat quality, genius work of the spicings. Simply an exceptional dish!

Report of that dinner: http://aromes.xanga.com/725756742/restaurant-linconnu-montreal/

What I think: Quite a work to turn such  a common dish (lamb, beef, tuna tatakis are common these days on Mtl’s tables)  into an impressive tastebud marvel.


Restaurant Laporte’s Oyster tartare, truffled scallops, Parsnip Velouté  – Finally a mise en bouche that’s daring/moving on a Montreal fine dining table. I have always reproached the big majority of Mtl’s finest tables to not be enoughly daring when it comes to mise en bouche. That is not the case of this one mise en bouche: The creamy parnsip velouté was of perfect creaminess, sporting an enjoyable subtly sweet taste . It was topping a meaty flavorful tartare of impeccably fresh oyster. Even the chip you see on that velouté was remarquable: very tasty, enjoyably crunchy.A mise en bouche that is not only stunning to Montreal restaurants but also to world’s best tables. 5 star mise en bouche!

Report of that dinner: http://aromes.xanga.com/719924847/best-restaurants-of-montreal-la-porte/

What I think: Along with XO Le Restaurant, Le Marly, Raza and Toque, this is my top favourite choice for upscale fine dining in Montreal. In another city, and on the back of that stunning dinner (never mind the 1 or 2 little reproaches I did address on that review. All great meals has its share of grainy edges. Look at the overall, and as such this dinner was of outstanding level) , La Porte would be a double Michelin Star table easily.

Foie Gras Poélé, Tarte tatin aux pommes, Sauce Caramel I go to restaurants for only one reason: educating my palate to potential new benchmarks of deliciousness. I go to restaurants only to experience prime palatability, or else..what’s the point of paying for food?  This course of pan seared duck liver  is my benchmark for savourish restaurant food of all levels, all around the globe. Euh..euh…yeah, I saw many talented Chefs trying this…but their creations never came close to half of the remarkable taste of this one dish I have sampled at KG. Now, do not run there hoping to reach the moon: it is  food, remember? All I am telling you is that this one pan seared foie gras, on that July 6th 2010  meal at KG, have blown my taste buds away and will be remembered (by me) for a long time as one of the tastiest dishes I ever sampled. 

Report of that dinner: http://aromes.xanga.com/722855124/kitchen-galerie-montreal—an-unforgettable-gustatory-feast/

What I think months later: Few Chefs, at all levels of cooking that I have experienced, have proven to be gifted by such a natural easy-ness to deliver food that delicious. Axel is a young gifted Chef and with food like what he cooked on this meal, he has left his culinary imprint on my best dining souvenirs.  If he keeps up with this standard, found on that reviewed meal, his talent will undoubtly seduce most palates.

Restaurant’s Toque! Pan-seated foie gras

Very elegant chunk of beautifully-textured (perfect soft unctuous texture) pan-seared foie. Evenly cooked, deliciously tasty with an impeccable smooth inside  consistency. It kept all  it’s fully inner flavors. Bathed in a light subtly sweet delicious  apple jus, with dices of apples and heavenly delectable dices of honey gelée. That apple jus is very distinct and lightens the dish. Simply, WoWed!  Largely among the best pan-seared foie Items I ever had on any of the finest tables I dined at in Canada and abroad!

Report of that dinner: Report of that dinner: http://aromes.xanga.com/716627762/best-tables-of-montreal-toque-restaurant/

And you, what have been your best meals or food here or abroad (it could be your best meals ever if you want, not necessarily the best ones you have enjoyed  recently)?

 

Thanks for sharing,

Aromes

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Aromes 2009-2010 Top 10 favourite food items in Montreal

XO Le Restaurant’s Free Form Lasagna – It’s being a while since I tried this dish (Oct 10th 2009), so I do not know how it did evolve. But this one I had on that specificc dinner was one triumph of a 3* Michelin caliber meal over the highest standards of fine dining at any corner of this small planet. Here’s how I did describe it, back then:

Called “Free form lasagna”, this dish — I predict — will quickly become the signature dish of their chef, Michele Mercuri: although, at first glance, it might not look like your typical lasagna, it is  packed with all technical goodies of a lasagne: cheese, pasta and so on. But this is a unique luxurious creative version of the lasagna -> as you can see on the picture, it’s more of a “deconstructive” version of it. What the picture wont tell you (and that is why I do predict that this is a signature dish to come) is about the remarquable work that is done in terms of savourishness:  from the small tasty chunks of lobster, succulent braided sweetbreads, enjoyable lobster emulsion, fresh tender baby spinash and oh so lovely stracchino cheese….every little element of that dish was a blast in terms of taste. Impeccably delicious. 5/5 and more if I could!  

Report of that dinner: http://aromes.xanga.com/714228763/montreals-luxurious-tables-xo-le-restaurant/

What do I think, months later:  That specific one dish I had on that evening is still my top #1 dish in Mtl up to now, in the top #5 dish if I include top restaurants that I visited abroad. XO Le Restaurant, along with Toque! are Arome’s top choices for world class fine dining in Montreal at this moment. Currently, easily of solid 2* Michelin caliber based on my two dinners there.

 

Bistro Cocagne’s Braised Lamb/Risotto – This dish shares my 2009-2010 top #1 meal in Montreal with XO Le Restaurant’s Free Form Lasagna. If I include the top tables that I have tried abroad, it’s in the top #3 ever! Yep, as stunning as that! Bistro Cocagne is a market driven table,  so I was a bit sad when I recently found my favourite dish removed from their menu. My description of the dish:

that was a generous portion of fully flavoured, perfectly cooked (awesome braised caramelly textured on the outside, so tender — on the inside — that it would slide off the bone effortlessly). Heavenly! 5/5 for the lamb. So, as those who are used to me already know, I always eat the meat first, then it’s accompaniments separately ->   The accompanying risotto was very interesting and refreshingly different from my usual risottos: it had some fresh enjoyable crunchy corn seeds, pieces of carrots, a perfect lite creamy consistency with a subtle enjoyable touch of sweetness (there was also what looked and tasted like slices of tamarind. I think this was sun-dried tomato, but they did really taste like tamarind. Those were a well thought addition to that savourish risotto). The risotto was evenly seasoned with amazing little savourish crunchy grains of rice (looked like arborio rice, to me).

Report of that dinner: http://aromes.xanga.com/711358238/bistro-cocagne-montreal—friday-sept-4th-1800/

What I think months later: Montreal, wake up! Put pressure for this dish to make a comeback! The laws of supply and demand can make this happen. Borrow my palate for free and it should work, Rfaol!


Club Chasse et Peche’s Braised boar/Brussels sprouts/hazelnuts/Caramelized fig
– I’ll let my description talk for it: ‘’’’Bathed in a very delicious light and flavorful meaty jus (the juice of the braised boar itself), this course has simply stole the show as my 2009 Mtl’s best main course (along with the Free Form Lasagna I had at XO): with a light amazing tasty crusty coating on the outside (basically a light elegant cheesy coating), perfect browny texture, ideally tender on the inside. This marvel-to-the-tastebud wonder was a genius workout of amazing flavorful meaty taste with accompaniments that were creatively so well thought: the hazelnuts in there were not just another ingredients to try…they were a perfect harmonious addition to the rest of this course. The caramelized fig was pure genius food work: intensely rich and tasty, it was the kind of tastebud amazement marvel that secured for good what I think of this cuisine: one of world’s bests. This, folks, would send even the best tables of the world (El Bulli, Fat Duck) to reflexion. Stunned!

 Report of that dinner: http://aromes.xanga.com/716460932/best-tables-of-montreal-le-club-chasse-et-p%C3%AAche/

What I think months later:  Forever stunned !!!….if only I could find more of this where  I do  expect it: at 2,3 Michelin star caliber restaurants.  Should I say more?


Chef Mario Navarrete’ s Tuna ceviche, Mango purée – Most of the dishes that this Latino genius has cooked for me, turned out impressive. I picked one of them, one that is of the next dimension.  This dish is a showcase of precision and exceptional skills. Why? Because in the hands of an average cook, a mango purée is the ticket to overwhelm anything that it is mixed with. In the hands of a genius cook like Chef Navarrete, it is a revelation. The purée, of outstanding light consistency and delicious taste, was of ideal combination with that fresh morsel of tuna (here again, a lot of brilliant work in balancing well the peppery/spicy/acidic marinated  taste of the tuna ceviche). Genius work to let each ingredient oozing in their pristine purity  and yet complementing themselves. This is easily of solid 2 to 3 Michelin star caliber.

Report of the meal: http://aromes.xanga.com/730124457/-the-new-restaurant-of-chef-mario-navarrete-jr-a-table–montreal/

What I think, weeks later: Speechless! Looking forward to more of the innovative cooking of Super Mario!

Chef Martin Juneau’s Butternut squash velouté, Chorizo – Oh my Lord! More of this overload of amazement and I’ll die happy!

The amazement here started with the exceptional textural visuals of this Velouté. In order to do justice to it, I am forced to pick a designation pertaining to the world of fashion/beauty: a glamourous texture! This one I was having on this lunch has a unique dense/glamourous/unique orange texture miles away from the usual orange pumpkin texture (We are all used to what a good pumpkin velouté looks like depending on whether it is deeply ripe or not, but this one’s exceptional texture was the equation of both the pumpkin itself + what the Chef made out of it). It was not too creamy, not too light but at ideal consistency. The work of tastes here was true genius: not only the taste of the velouté on it’s own was exceptionally moving/daring/unique, but the tastebud wonder concerto was not going to end there: couple of tiny slices of deep flawlessly cooked flavored chorizo added a supreme smartly well thought smoky-ness. The slightly-cooked tasty pumkin seeds found in that velouté added an extra dimension of welcoming nutty flavors to this Velouté to end all Veloutés. Note to myself: Finally the velouté that has stole the show from my all time world’s favourite haute fine-dining soup/velouté, Guy Savoy’s signature dish Black truffle artichoke soup! I always remind people that it does not take a myriad of meals to sense the exceptional greatness of a Chef. It takes one meal, convincing enough, to give you a definitive idea of the greatness (or not) of a Chef. This is more than ever the best proof of such statement. There was in that one single food item a showcase of exceptional talent, creativity, an passionate commitment of a Chef to it’s food. An exceptional  dish that pertains to the repertoire of the best food items at any greatest Three Michelin Star. As stunning as that!

PS: They change their menus oftenly, so that Velouté is not a Signature dish and may not necessarily be served regularly.  

Report of that Lunch: http://aromes.xanga.com/723067367/best-restaurants-of-montreal-la-montee/

What I think months later: My personal experience with Juneau’s cuisine has evolved this way ->  (1)A spectacular close to 3-star Michelin caliber lunch on Friday March 5th 2010  (2)A just ok dinner on June 26th 2010 (3) A dinner on May 31st 2011 where I simply had enough and decided to give up on him!


Restaurant Toque !’s Fromage Comtomme, crème au piment d’Espelette, pain craquant, gelée de piment, pomme et graines de tournesol

Instead of offering the traditional plate of cheese, they brillantly concocted a cheese based marvel: caramelized apples with Comtomme cheese (turned into a slight cheesy fondue) might not be exciting on paper,  but this dish is, to my tastebuds, one of the best daring/exciting/tastebud pleasers I could think of this year.  From the nice crunchy mouthsome to the sweet and salty decadent balanced flavors and tastes, each bite of this tastebud marvel  was a decadent propulsion to heaven. Litterally! In terms of moving tastes (as if that was not enoughly decadent, the creamy slighly peppery touch of Espelette chilly was shining through the dish, not to mention the delicious and exciting gelée of chilly) , this was simply a blast!   Largely one item that all the world’s best restaurants would want to steal from Toque!.

Report of that dinner: http://aromes.xanga.com/716627762/best-tables-of-montreal-toque-restaurant/

What do I think, months later: Cheese-based courses need more of that type of fun creativity.


Lamb Tataki at Restaurant  L’inconnu  Perhaps, the best mastered cooking (preparation + execution)  that I sensed behind a meat since a long time. Enjoyably  spicy. That exceptional fresh upfront well balanced and yet daring spicy Soya/Ginger/Chili/Lime taste will mark my souvenirs for a long time. The meat was nicely marinated, of impeccable tenderness, with a depth of flavor that was pure heaven. Fresh fennel completed this amazing dish. Largely a dish pertaining to the level of the best 2* Michelin  tables. One that will set a reference to the most in all accounts: exceptional daring taste, exceptional work of the flavors, exceptional meat quality, genius work of the spicings. Simply an exceptional dish!

Report of that dinner: http://aromes.xanga.com/725756742/restaurant-linconnu-montreal/

What I think: Quite a work to turn such  a common dish (lamb, beef, tuna tatakis are common these days on Mtl’s tables)  into an impressive tastebud marvel.


Restaurant Laporte’s Oyster tartare, truffled scallops, Parsnip Velouté  – Finally a mise en bouche that’s daring/moving on a Montreal fine dining table. I have always reproached the big majority of Mtl’s finest tables to not be enoughly daring when it comes to mise en bouche. That is not the case of this one mise en bouche: The creamy parnsip velouté was of perfect creaminess, sporting an enjoyable subtly sweet taste . It was topping a meaty flavorful tartare of impeccably fresh oyster. Even the chip you see on that velouté was remarquable: very tasty, enjoyably crunchy.A mise en bouche that is not only stunning to Montreal restaurants but also to world’s best tables. 5 star mise en bouche!

Report of that dinner: http://aromes.xanga.com/719924847/best-restaurants-of-montreal-la-porte/

What I think: Along with XO Le Restaurant, Le Marly, Raza and Toque, this is my top favourite choice for upscale fine dining in Montreal. In another city, and on the back of that stunning dinner (never mind the 1 or 2 little reproaches I did address on that review. All great meals has its share of grainy edges. Look at the overall, and as such this dinner was of outstanding level) , La Porte would be a double Michelin Star table easily.

Foie Gras Poélé, Tarte tatin aux pommes, Sauce Caramel I go to restaurants for only one reason: educating my palate to potential new benchmarks of deliciousness. I go to restaurants only to experience prime palatability, or else..what’s the point of paying for food?  This course of pan seared duck liver  is my benchmark for savourish restaurant food of all levels, all around the globe. Euh..euh…yeah, I saw many talented Chefs trying this…but their creations never came close to half of the remarkable taste of this one dish I have sampled at KG. Now, do not run there hoping to reach the moon: it is  food, remember? All I am telling you is that this one pan seared foie gras, on that July 6th 2010  meal at KG, have blown my taste buds away and will be remembered (by me) for a long time as one of the tastiest dishes I ever sampled. 

Report of that dinner: http://aromes.xanga.com/722855124/kitchen-galerie-montreal—an-unforgettable-gustatory-feast/

What I think months later: Few Chefs, at all levels of cooking that I have experienced, have proven to be gifted by such a natural easy-ness to deliver food that delicious. Axel is a young gifted Chef and with food like what he cooked on this meal, he has left his culinary imprint on my best dining souvenirs.  If he keeps up with this standard, found on that reviewed meal, his talent will undoubtly seduce most palates.

Restaurant’s Toque! Pan-seated foie gras

Very elegant chunk of beautifully-textured (perfect soft unctuous texture) pan-seared foie. Evenly cooked, deliciously tasty with an impeccable smooth inside  consistency. It kept all  it’s fully inner flavors. Bathed in a light subtly sweet delicious  apple jus, with dices of apples and heavenly delectable dices of honey gelée. That apple jus is very distinct and lightens the dish. Simply, WoWed!  Largely among the best pan-seared foie Items I ever had on any of the finest tables I dined at in Canada and abroad!

Report of that dinner: Report of that dinner: http://aromes.xanga.com/716627762/best-tables-of-montreal-toque-restaurant/

And you, what have been your best meals or food here or abroad (it could be your best meals ever if you want, not necessarily the best ones you have enjoyed  recently)?

 

Thanks for sharing,

Aromes

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