The end of my discoveries of Montreal finest Bistrots & Gourmets destinations

This is the end  of my discoveries of Montreal finest Bistrots & Gourmets destinations. Current post  is my last post on this site.

In 2009, frustrated to never be able to rely on online restaurant reviews /opinions whenever I needed advices on where to go dining out with my wife/friends/family, I decided to  take the bull by its horns and went trying  Montreal finest Bistrots & Gourmets destinations.  In the process, I decided to share with whoever the findings might be helpful. Hence, this web blog. It was important for me to live the experience as a normal diner, which means anonymously, since the point was to experience things the way my friends, family, any normal diner would experience it in their turn.

I have nothing against those who have interest in the industry. If you want to be recognized, get favors, capitalize on the benefits of your visibility, then good for you. It is your choice and I respect that. I just have no interest in this industry (like any Business, it is generally more about making money rather than focusing on true skills, which again is  understandable, but   is simply not something that excites/appeals to me ), so having now my list of restaurants I deem worthy of revisiting, I decided that it was the end of the round as far as Montreal restaurants go (except, of course, if a particularly great Chef opens a new restaurant or I hear about a new restaurant that is shaking the restaurant actuality in town, Rfaol, in which case I’ll add that review to http://michelinstarfinedinings.wordpress.com/.

All reviews of my Michelin star meals will be listed  on the left, side of http://michelinstarfinedinings.wordpress.com  from the higher to lower rated meals. But that blog, despite its name,  won’t focus anymore solely on my  restaurant reviews. It will, from now on, be the full expression of my own self with posts — in both my mother tongue (French) as well as in English – covering everything from my vision of the world, arts, cooking, literature, travel, etc. A  blog in its conventional definition, which means the expression of whatever I have on my mind and that I deem interesting to share.

Please also find here my sparse dining reviews at Montreal’s ethnic eateries, my humble reviews on bars/pubs in Montreal, and my reviews of couple of Parisian restaurants.

In fine, I love Montreal but came to the conclusion that its dining scene is over-rated. When, in 10 years, you have been able to spot only less than 30 really capable dining destinations over 6000 and more…the only conclusion that strikes is that it is an over-rated food scene. But is it is pretty cosmopolitan city, with anything…but food…as its qualities.You now have the  reason why I prefer saving my hard earned money and splurge on dining elsewhere!

STILL, where will Aromes go back then?
Bistro Cocagne, Toque!, Brasserie T, Au Pied de Cochon: No one is perfect in life, you know that.
So even for someone like me who fought hard for justice, impartiality, etc..well, I happen to be sometimes
very partial. And partial I am when it comes to most things taht come from Toque!, Montreal’s most revered
temple of haute dining. Bistro Cocagne, Brasserie T have Chefs who are  Toque’s alumnis and the standard
is usually consistently good, by Montreal standards, at those places. Au Pied de Cochon’s is owned by an ex Toque’s alumni,
Chef Martin Picard and his personal take on rustic quebecois cooking is one that seems to have found no competition in town years after he opened his restaurant. Delicious rustic bistrot food. Just make sure that is the type of food you like, as
you are supposed to do with all types of food.
Kitchen Galerie on Jean Talon. I have been cooking for years, so I do not expect miracles. Just do something simple,  but better than most of your peers and I’ll be happy. KG on Jean Talon is making that happen: simple bistrot food  that is delicious and well made. If you think it is no big deal, arm yourself with a good sense for details and go ask  most bistrots how come they are not doing  it that well.
Au 5e Péché: Still in my top 5 of Montreal’s best bistrots. Had of course some great and lesser impressive meals there, as it is the case with all restaurants, but Chef Lenglet  is  talented, so the best dishes here will always pertain to Montreal bistrot finest.  He is always present in his kitchen, a miracle in nowadays world.
Bouillon Bilk: Chef Nadon, another great talent. The first time I ate here, he was at the helm and the food was superb.  Second visit was disappointing (he was away on that evening). Still, a good  restaurant with serious/reliable staff and owners.
Remains  a favourite of mine, but my second visit suggests that they need to find a way, when Chef Nadon is away, to keep  the bar high.
Raza: Chef Navarrette Jr, the Latino Genius. I had some of my most memorable lifetime meals at Raza and it is a restaurant that  has a special place in my heart (my type: simple, elegant, Chef Navarrette Jr deserving his place among my personal
best Chefs of all times). I just have one wish: his assistants need to live up to the challenge of having to work alongside such
a Giant Chef. It is a gift from the above to work with such a Genius like Chef Navarrette Jr…live up to that!
-La Porte: Chef Thierry Rouyé is something. I’ll never forget that one: Ppl in town kept raving about L’Européa, Toque!, Club Chasse et Peche,  etc.  Which are top tables I dearly respect. Then Boom..I discovered Chef Rouyé’s work and he impressed me even more.  La Porte is my personal favourite of all the high end dining ventures in Montreal. Even the decor moves me (beautifully exotic).
Bottega on St Zotique!. Read this review. I have nothing more to say, Lol
Queue de Cheval. Because it’s pricey, most (??) or some (??) will frown (??) . Listen, I do not have the means to go there on a regular  basis.  I went there just twice in 5 years. But like to hear this or not, I can deal just in facts and my recent visits of Montreal  top steakhouses confirmed that the Q! is still  the King! Just remember: it is pricey!  In town, there’s one steak that’s currently beating it though and you have to go and buy it and cook it yourself: Le Marchand du Bourg’s
aged steak.
Park: I am a fan of Chef Park for various reasons. He is one of the rare Chefs in town who is capable to surprise with flavors
and a creativity that is not that common in Montreal. True, the level of dining in Montreal is not high, but he is one who can set the bar. He  also  has a fresh open mind that lets him stroll the world for exotic flavors. When the focus is on that discovery of exotic flavors, his cooking is really top by Mtl standards. His kitchen just need to avoid
roaming away from that focal point.  It is seafood, so expect it to be pricey.
Kyo: My new coup de coeur in 2013. I know, it is new, so perhaps the imperfections will come with success/popularity.
But for now, I can only talk for what I know and the present is bright.
Lawrence: Sort of UK’s pub food and more. In that genre, Lawrence sets the bar in town. I was less happy with the service though

Jun I : Still the best of the sushiyas in Montreal, I was tough in my review, though  NOT  unfair…the proof is that I do  recognize that Jun I is the most authentically Japanese of all sushiyas in town. The master of them all, in Montreal.  Real Japanese sushi masters spend at least 7 years of training and Jun I has a REAL master at the helm, always present and hard at work.
That’s all.
Thanks for reading

Enjoy!

Aromes

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KGP, Montreal – The non happening

Dinner @ Kitchen Galerie Poisson 
Saturday June 4th 2011, 9PM
Addr: 399, Rue Notre Dame Ouest
Phone: 514-439-6886
Type of food: North American Bistro/Seafood
URL: http://www.kitchengaleriepoisson.com/menus/index.html

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

(English review will follow) – A ces prix là, one ne peut pas se permettre une seule soirée ‘OFF’! Oh, oui j’allais oublier: c’est un copie-coller du meme commentaire que je fais pour chaque repas qui m’a décu car en fait, je ne suis inspiré que lorsque c’est…inspirant!
 
Kitchen Galerie, as most Montlealers already know, is a well established restaurant located on Jean Talon. The one on Jean-Talon is a favourite of mine following some outstanding meals like this one. Recently, their main Chefs (JF St-Denis and Mathieu Cloutier) did open another restaurant in the old Montreal: Kitchen Galerie Poisson (their seafood venue). Jannice and I paid a visit to their restaurant in the old Montreal this Sat June 4th 2011 and the cuisine, on this evening, was prepared under the auspices of Chef Jean Francois St Denis (a very friendly and joyous gentleman who went from table to table serving customers the food he had prepared for them).

We started with their Foie gras poêlé aux fruits confits, $ 21 – A far cry from what their   2nd line up Chefs, Axel and Mathieu Bourdages, have served me at Kitchen Galerie on Jean-Talon  (refer to this dinner’s review). I know that this type of story won’t please the most (I am the very first victim of such, since reporting about average dinings is a pure loss of time and guess what…MONEY!!), but … what’s complicated with pan-searing a piece of foie gras? This did not worth even 1 cent of its $ 21 price tag.  That tiny insipid   piece of pan-seared foie gras was…DRY!!, U-N-I-N-S-P-I-R-E-D!   All I was left with is to find consolation in souvenirs of  the stunning pan seared foie gras of Chef Axel @ Kitchen Galerie on Jean-Talon or the dazzling €2 (less than $4 memorable piece of pan seared foie gras @ la Cuchara de San Telmo in SSB).  0/10

Then we picked their Beignets d’huîtresoysters beignets. I know many food columnists have raved about those, and the buzz has gone a long way, but seriously … who can miss frying beignets, for god sake??  Have you noticed that I didn’t even bother rotating the pic of that dish properly? That is right: when I pay for food that has no inspiration, I have no business being inspired neither! 5.5/10

Next: one dish that they should not have missed -> their surf & turf, basically comprised of a straightforward filet mignon and a losbter tail.  I requested the cooking of the filet mignon to be blue rare. It was served medium rare! I just don’t get that one (cooking meats at desired doneness is not rocket science; at home, in their backyards, most people are not missing this one. Worst case: there are meat thermometers to come at your rescue, Rfaol!). But this was not my main quibble about this dish….the lobster was:  tempura fried lobsters that I will only remember for its cheapie-looking texture and  uninteresting flavor. At $45…this was amplified frustration!  Just serve those lobsters simply grilled…!!!   The photos I took suffer from lack of light, but honestly…you are missing absolutely nothing!  6/10

When it is not meant to succeed, it just won’t work…even their basic  dessert missed the marks:
A chocolate mousse-based cake topped with marshmallow was ordinary. Go figure… 5/10

Ironically, it’s at Kitchen Galerie on Jean-Talon, stronghold of their 2nd line Chefs, where  I’ve experienced inspiration and stunning food. Chef JF St-Denis, last year’s winner of Canada’s Gold Medal plates (along with Chef Cloutier) was in the dining room this evening @ KGP…but if this is what he is capable of, then I am afraid we do not share the same appreciation of  Gold!

258.05$ for two persons….that is what appeared on the bill..BUT for what, e – x  – a – c – t- l – t – y?? The gentleman who served us (an amazing fellow, btw) was surprised that I was taking a pic of the bill. If only he knew…. Not his fault, so I didn’t tell him anything about my frustration. Like in most cities, the majority of people want to hear  good stuff  about  their restaurants, but if improving matters to you … then reality has to be unfold!

My friendly advise: Put  style  (the compact all-wooden  and warm bistro decor is indeed cool, the laidback friendly ambience too, the visit of their top chef to the tables, etc…but…) aside and focus on substance!

I will keep going back to KG on Jean-Talon, but here…NO..Thanks!

PROS: Nothing on this meal
CONS: This meal was a 258$ disappointment! Never again.

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