Café Sardine, Montreal – The day this kitchen will unleash its full potential….

 

UPDATE- MAY 2013  CHEF AARON LANGILLE IS NOT WORKING THERE ANYMORE. THIS POST IS THEREFORE KEPT ONLINE SOLELY FOR   HISTORICAL PURPOSE.

. Dinner @ Café Sardine
Addr: 9 fairmount, Montreal, Quebec
When: Tuesday, 26 June 2012 18:30

Type of Bistrot: Neo North American Bistrot
Ambience: packed, tiny, popular, laidback
Decor: rustic, plenty of dark wood, wall bricks, close-up tables
Phone: 514-802-8899
Website: http://cafesardine.com

  (English version, to follow) – Ca faisait belle lurette qu’on avait pas d’innovation relativement ‘tranchante’ du coté de la restaurantion Montréalaise. Il y’a eu Bouillon Bilk l’an passé, peut etre le filet dans une certaine mesure, puis plein de belles initiatives mais rien de vraiment différent. Café Sardine apporte donc quelques petites touches innovantes, par ci et par là. Pas étonnant, vu que le Chef Aaron Langille a déjà fait ses classes au restaurant Noma, temple d’une cuisine moderniste ultra innovante. Donc, meme si il y va molo (à Montréal, pas question de brusquer les us et coutumes –on est pas ultra conservateurs, Rfaol, mais certainement pas des plus aventureux non plus), sa cuisine est plein de petites découvertes peu ou pas du tout offerts à Montréal: travail poussé des herbes marines (par exemple, sa salade de pois de mer, laitue de mer), la transformation de ces dernières en meringue  par exemple, ainsi que bien d’autres éléments tel que le travail de tous les éléments de la plante de concombre (le plat ‘maquereau, purée de concombre) en textures peu courantes dans les restaurants de Montréal (par exemple: assécher certaines partie de la plante de concombre, un résultat qui est vraiment pas mal). Bref, un peu de Noma dans certaines créations. Mais encore? Une cuisine interessante, des touches innovantes (en regard de nos standards Montréalais) et certainement la plus interessante que j’ai eu l’occasion de savourer sur une table Montréalaise depuis l’ouverture du Bouillon Bilk.  Des prix doux, des ingrédients  de qualité, un rapport qualité prix qui est dur à battre. Bémols? Les défauts (bruyant, petit, tables hyper rapprochés) de ses qualités (ambiance électrisante dû justement à la superficie toute menue des lieux, des plats bien exécutés qui feraient palir de jalousie plein d’autres   tables offrant du moins bon à plus cher..ceci expliquant pourquoi plein de Montréalais investissent les lieux) , mais au final  ca vaut un petit détour entre amis amateurs de bonne cuisine et de bon vins (les flacons, au verre surtout, valent leur petit pesant d’or) , histoire de découvrir ces  petits plats plein d’intérêt, gouteux, bien faits, aux petites touches bien pensées et parfois quasiment suprenantes. Oublions les nappes blanches, oublions le coté guindé, oublions les décors sophistiqués. Après tout, n’est-ce pas ca un resto: avoir du fun, manger des bons petits plats et se laisser aller au petit coté ‘party” de la chose. Peut etre pas un coup de coeur, dans mon cas, mais  j’ai bien apprécié.

Café Sardine is the new hit of the Montreal restaurant scene. Its Chef,  Aaron Langille has spent some time at Noma in Copenhagen (this is the only reason that led me there: I have been waiting, for a while now, after  some kind of fresh new  culinaric creations on the Montreal restaurant scene. Especially if Noma’s ideas could inspire those..I am dreaming, I know..since I’d doubt that Mtlers will widely adopt Noma’s foliage standard bearing creations. But some inspirations, coming from Noma, adapted to Montreal scene…why not? )  before working for several restaurants in YUL.  Opened around the end of March, it is a popular tiny eatery that fulfills  its role of a café in the morning, of a luncheon destination  at noon, as well as a bistro in the evening.  They told me that they do not take any reservation when I called them and given how popular this place is, they certainly do not have to bother with potential last minute cancellations. I think Café Sardine is the most prolific restaurant concept  I ever saw  in YUL since a long time being  basically a ‘’compilation’’ of everything that works nowadays: low prices, shareable sized portions of food , short menu, flexible eatery (café/luncheon place/dinner) and avoiding loss of time with un-popular bistrot items (for ie, their dessert section is short…why losing time with creations that are not in big demand? ).

YUL is known for its myriad of eateries, it counts among North American cities with the most restaurants per capita.  Each year, hundreds of restaurants  keep opening …alas, it would be more appropriate to call most of them ‘replicas of  restaurants’. The 100th cote de boeuf, the 101th veal chop dish, another marinated beet, and so on. Not even the 100th cote de boeuf but one that would be a …stand out Cote de Boeuf. Not even.  Or when they sounded original, it was basically  about unexciting dishes just presented differently.  Aside from what I consider among my favourite in YUL,  and since the likes of Bouillon Bilk and Le Filet, now over 1 year,   I have seen many serious dining destinations opening in town,  with the will of doing really well, but virtually none that brought standout surprises. It is, as if, everytime someone is opening a new restaurant, that person’s existential question is the same:  How to survive? Although it is of course absolutely normal to think about profit, I seriously question the passion of  some of those restaurateurs. How come, in a tiny city like San Sebastian, they are all doing pintxos and yet finding thousands of  exciting ways to surprise your palate? How come, at a time when thousands of restaurants kept doing the same thing, Au Pied de Cochon found original ways to give a new exciting dimension to rustic QC’s cuisine, Kitchen Galerie (on Jean Talon) managed to pull out a neo-rustic bistrot cuisine  that’s more exciting than what others can deliver, Bistro Cocagne and Au 5e Péché managed to stand ahead of  YUL’s very best bistrots . None of those are re-inventing the wheel but they are, in many ways (skilled cooking, food with an edge on the palatable aspect, etc)  at the forefront of current Montreal’s restaurant dynamic  . My intent is not to bash for the pleasure of bashing. It is a city that I dearly love, therefore  wished it could shine among world’s most exciting dining destinations. The intent is just to bring some food for thoughts that will hopefully end up somehow, somewhere, in new ears willing to push Montreal to a potential World’s exciting gastro city. As you’ll see below, Café Sardine is far from being just another restaurant. It is an inspired eatery concept that brings fresh new air to Montreal restaurant scene.

Décor:  Prior to visiting this place, I have read that it had a Parisian bistrot décor. Well, not really. First off, the majority of Parisian bistrots have mostly chairs and traditional tables,  whereas here you have bar stools and tall tables. Most Parisian bistrots (A la Biche au Bois , Au pied de fouet, Josephine “Chez Dumonet”, Bistro de Paris)  have tablecloth (more and more are putting the traditional tablecloth aside, for ie Bistrot Au Passage, Cartouche Café, Le Miroir..etc  but that’s not typical of classic Parisian bistrot style), which is not the case here. Also: even if things are changing a bit on that aspect, it was no custom to sit and eat at the bar or a counter at most Parisian bistrots (which you can do at CS). Café Sardine décor has more accurately a mix of  some elements from some English pub (the dark wooden floors, plenty of dark wood décor elements) and their own take on some neo-rustic bistrot style with ideas inspired from 1950s-era pop-art style (the Café Sardine solo wall painting), very interesting retro touches as that fun old-school phone in the gents room (wow..really really loved that all wooden retro décor in the gents room. Pick that phone in the gents room and listen to what they say..Rfaol!), 1930s hollywood glamour painted brickwork. You can seat at the bar counter, the few tall tables (mostly for 4 pers), or at another  counter close to the window.

Service: In such a tiny packed place, you can’t expect flawless synchronized service, but they did the best they could in being relax, cool, professional and friendly. A charm.

Wine list: At the table, they have a small list of wines divided in 5 sections: reds from France (14 bottles, with wines as low as a $34 for a 2009 Chateau Jouclary Cabardes Cuvee Tradition, then some few bottles in the $40+ range, then some in the $60+,  some in the  $70+, up to a $102 Vosne-Romanée Village Domaine Daniel Rion 2009. Worth noticing: a $78 2009 Domaine Amiot Guy et Fils Les Chaumes, Chassagne-Montrachet),  reds from other parts of the world  (11 bottles from $40 up to $88, for ie a $44 Igt Toscana 2007 Calviolo, Le Querce or a 2006 G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe at $82), white wines from France (13 bottles, from $37 to $78 with some nice picks like a $45 Dom. Les Éminades Montmajou 2010, Saint-Chinian or a 2009, Pouilly-Fuissé  Maison JanotsBos at $75), as well as white wines from other parts of the world ranging from $44 to $62. Constant changes to that list are of course applied, so next time you go there, other wines might feature on that wine list. They do also have far more gems than those on that list, and I went with wine pairings by the glass (in between $8 to $10) which exposed far more treasures (plenty of amazing biodynamic wines). A little coup de coeur, in my case, for a lovely 2009 Toscana i.g.t., Cabernet Sauvignon, Calviolo.

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

The food
: The menu at Café Sardine is inspired by a trend: the menu just features quick  lists of the ingredients, for ie –tomato, basil, thyme-  (think Eleven Park Madison, L’Astrance). Of its time, obviously, but come to think about it, not a bad idea at all: you list the ingredients and that gives you the freedom of composing whatever you want with them. 

We started with a starter of baguette bread topped with tomatoes ($2). This is an item widely present   in the the mediterranea, but this version I was having on this evening lacked many elements to truely shine on par with its med counterparts: it needed more acidity, perhaps capers, a touch of olive oil and such starter needs stunnier tomatoes. But at $2, I guess I am asking way too much, Lol.  4/10

Then Boeuf, épinette, pimbina, consoude, rose, tournesol ($14) – Beef tartare served atop a leaf of  ‘consoude’. here, a first influence from Noma’s  foliage trend  with the use of consoude leaf. The tartare on its own was just ok (seasoned as it should, but certainly not a benchmark one – it lacked prime beefy flavor impact), but eating it with the consoude leaf did definitely turn this into an interesting experience. Talking about interesting, the dimension brought by the presence of the rose really kept  this tartare in worth-to-pay-for category. Lots of efforts and thoughts went in this tartare, enough efforts to forgive the otherwise just Ok beef tartare    7/10

Then Truite, caviar de poule de mer, sur pomme de terre confite et crème fraîche – Top quality trout, cooked to ideal consistency. Logical matching ingredients such as potatoes and crème fraiche completed this dish. Hard to fault such dish, and certainly not a dish that will make me leave the comfort of home for, but at $13 and with what lies ahead, this is certainly acceptable. 7.5/10

Next was maquereau, purée de concombre $13 – Mackerel and purée of cucumber had references to Noma with all parts of a cucumber being exploited: the cucumber itself came in purée as well as in its pickled version. There was also a noma-esque exercise of drying some parts of the cucumber plant, the latter being a total success of functional modern interpretation of foliage.  This could have been a 7/10 dish in other circumstances, but in this case, there were many glimpses of outstanding efforts as shown in the work of the cucumber. The mackerel itself, although packed with enticing grilling flavor, did largely benefit from the amazing work of its outstanding pairing companions. 8/10

Then Gigot d’agneau, purée de noix de grenoble, moutarde mariné, onions vert – Excellent lamb that did, again, benefit from the enticing flavor coming from the grill on which it was cooked. At $15, with such low $$$, you can easily see why this place is so popular. But it’s really in the glimpses of brilliance seen on some other dishes where my interest lies. Still, nothing to complain about. 7.5/10

Joue de boeuf, radis – $14  A delicious and tender piece of top quality braised beef cheeks. At $14, I have really nothing to pique at. I know places serving such dish at twice this price and the palatable impact is not as high. Had the sauce being as stunning as the meat itself, this would have been a benchmark of its genre. But on this occurence, I’ll rate it with a 9/10

Pois de mer, laitue de mer, sabline, cendre, huitre$10 – A salad of sea foliage was the reason I have full faith in the depth of skills that’s in that kitchen. For a  palate that’s focused, what I was having would be a treasure of interesting discoveries. If you do not like sea foliage, this will not be your thing. I love sea foliage and this was certainly a 10/10 salad as far as I am concerned. Noma foliage inspiration was strong here, too. Top marks for a little meringue made of sea foliage and oyster. That was world class meringue (I really hope that Mtlers will adopt such unusually -seen elements on the Montreal restaurant scene like for ie, sea foliage meringue, ashes mades from  elements of the sea. They add so much to the enjoyment of a dish, and that’s coming from an old-school gourmand like me). Adding oyster emulsion to that salad was one of those little touches that showcased the great depth of inspiration invested on this dish, and as with anything inspired, it brought emotions right up to the very last inch of the palate.

Gateau au citron, sirop de poire, violette$5- Usually, at most Montreal’s bistrots, desserts are an afterthought. And seen just 2,3 items on their dessert menu, I was ready to give up on the dessert part of this meal. But they proved me wrong:  this was largely one of the very best lemon cakes ever sampled on a Montreal table, with a depth of enticing lemon and pear flavor that lingers on the palate for long. Excellent 9/10

Chocolat blanc, fromage bleu, thé du labrador, rhubarbe $7 – The staff explained that the desserts are made by a pastry chef during the day. This gentleman needs more visibility as dessert after dessert, his creations are certainly not your usual ordinary Montreal restaurant dessert creations. His style is definitely not boldly modern but  its shows a great sense of taste and unusal inspired work. 9/10
 

Bottom line: the best dishes of this repast were refreshingly novel to Montreal restaurant standards and revealed a great potential in this kitchen. I can’t say that I was blown away (always a subjective thang, right?) , but I’ll have to concede that it is the most interesting restaurant meal I ever had in Montreal since a long time, with ingredient quality that’s high, cooking techniques on point, a Chef who’s obviously talented, and the dessert creations sampled during this meal might appear ‘normal’ at first glance but they unveiled a sense of taste that is certainly superior.  To an attentive eye / palate, plenty of little details will not fail to catch attention. Don’t expect perfection all the way though: the charm of this tiny eatery really lies in balancing its strengths (busy popular ambience, surprising culinaric highs here and there such as the 9/10 and 10/10 dishes of this meal) with its weaknesses (such a popular place has inevitable downsides such as being too noisy, having the tables too close to each other, etc).  In the end, it is a refreshingly interesting place that has a lot to offer. And the day this kitchen will unleash its full potential, oh my …my…

PROS: A braised beef cheeks course of world class execution, even if its sauce was not as spectacular. Very creative by Montreal standards. Desserts were also of solid level.
CONS: That tartare and tomatoes on baguette bread ..were surprising not at the level of the rest. Way below a general level of cooking that’s quite good, and more importantly interesting.

Overallfood rating: 7/10 Really good for what I am accustomed to /thus do expect at comparablerestaurants/dining category. Closer to an 8 over 10 btw, because the hits here (although sparse on this meal) are bold, veryexciting! And when such an unassuming hole in a wall makes you doubt aboutsome top gunners, you know that when the lion will roar, only the sky will bethe limit! I still can’tbelieve that only a handful of the numerous 2 and 3 star Michelin  I madein the past decade have been able to offer dishes with the stunningimpact that their joue de boeuf (it’s a market cuisine, so no signature dish) was oozing of! Of course, it’s not a grand luxe place, but there’s alion in the house ;p If it roars ….
Overallservice rating
: 7/10 Professional. They do their best, but what can you do: its is so busy, packed,electric, so ….they do their best in the circumstance.
Décor: 5/10  laidback,shoulder to shoulder. But hey, it’s FUN!  Trust me (even with the bunch of stoopid susceptible characters we had next to us on this evening–Lol, they wereshocked because I was caressing the hair of my wife. Sad characters of thepaleolithic age, Lol)

IMPORTANT: ‘Overall food rating’ HAS NOTHING TO DO with the arithmectic calculation  of all dishes. It is my personal subjective rating of the overall foodperformance  on the specif meal I am sampling  only.

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Restaurant L’eau à la bouche, Sainte-Adele: Take Two

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

Dinner at L’Eau à La Bouche, Sat Febr 27th 2010, 18:00PM
3003 Boulevard Sainte-Adèle
Sainte-Adèle  (Québec)
Phone: 450 229 2991
URL: http://www.leaualabouche.com/
Particularity: A Relais & Chateaux restaurant
Type of dining: Upscale market cuisine / French Fine dining
READ: My report about the 1st dinner here (Febr 13th 2009).

RESTAURANT L'EAU A LA BOUCHE, SAINTE-ADELE,QC(2) Second visit at Restaurant L’eau à la bouche, Sainte-Adele in the Laurentides (in between Montreal and Tremblant). As most already know, this is the restaurant of star chef Anne Desjardins and one of the very few  Relais & Chateaux tables of Eastern Canada/Quebec. L’Eau à la Bouche is one of QC’s very top best fine dining tables along with Hotel Saint-James XO Le Restaurant, Toque! / Nuances in Montréal, Initiale in Quebec City, Quintessence in Tremblant. Last time we dined there, that was on February 13th 2009 (ref: click here for my review of that dinner) and that tasting menu we had back then was simply stunning. We were excited to see if this magic would perpertuate and went this time again with their tasting menu.

Kicked off with an Ok Rhum coco/blood orange/grapefruit:
RESTAURANT L'EAU A LA BOUCHE, SAINTE-ADELE,QC - RHUM COCO, ORANGE SANGUINE, PAMPLEMOUSSE Rhum coco/blood orange/grapefruit: Ok, satisfying cocktail (7/10). A second cocktail of gin/tonic (10/10) was more memorable.

Next came a mise en bouche of:

RESTAURANT L'EAU A LA BOUCHE, SAINTE-ADELE,QC - WILD MUSHROOMS, CHIVES, CREME FRAICHE Wild mushroom/chives/creme fraiche potage: evenly seasoned, not too creamy not too light, enjoyably slightly peppery with the chives adding a nice touch to the earthiness of the whole potage. Welcoming refreshing touch from the crème fraiche. Good. 8/10

Followed by:
RESTAURANT L'EAU A LA BOUCHE, SAINTE-ADELE,QC - SMOKED TROUT, CREME FRAICHE, HORSE RADISH Smoked trout from Sainte-Agathe crème fraiche, horseradish, wakamé, roasted sesame seeds – The cold smoked fish’s flesh sported an ideal pink texture. The trout was oozing with it’s enjoyable natural strong flavour. The sweet, smoky flavor of the fish was delightfully enhanced by the mix of the creme fraiche and horseradish that provided an excellent kick to the smoked trout (although common — horseradish/creme fraiche acompanying smoked fish is common affair— this was more importantlyl very tasty). 10/10 for the match Smoked Trout/Horseradish/Creme Fraiche.
Wakame: Crunchy, fresh  and tasty. Drizzling it with the sesame seeds was a great touch and turned out to be a convincing great work of taste. On it’s own, it was excellent, but not a convincing accompaniment to the smoky trout.
Precision of the cooking: 5/5 (The trout ont it’s own was nicely smoked)
Tastyness: 5/5  for the taste of the trout, same for each other element on their own
Complexity: Medium
Overall Value: 4/5 
wine Pairing wine: Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Reserva Selection Limitée , Montes – Vallée de Leyda, Chile
It is a wine unknown to me, which is exactly what I seek for since I love discovering wines. And it turned out as a welcoming surprise to my tastebuds: nice medium-bodied mineral wine, aromatic with a nose of grass and enjoyably fruity aromas too (my tastebuds sensed aromas of litchi and cantaloup). I love this white wine: it’s aromatic, intense. To my tastebuds, this balanced so well with the smoky aspect of the trout. Great wine pairing.  

RESTAURANT L'EAU A LA BOUCHE, SAINTE-ADELE,QC - DUCK FOIE GRAS AU TORCHON, CELERY, HONEY CARAMEL Fresh duck foie gras from “la Canardière” “au torchon”, celery, honey caramel  – To be honest, although “au torchon” preparations keep most part of the taste/flavors of the foie, I am more a fan of pan-seared foie (especially the ones concocted by Toque!, Bistro Cocagne and APDC. I have always said that Laprise-Loiseau-Picard have among the best techniques of pan-seared foie gras concoctions. L’Eau à la Bouche’s pan-seared foie on my 1st dinner there in Febr 2009 was also a blast, sharing actually the position of best pan-seared I ever had on a fine dining table — here & abroad’s included — with the item #3 of the last dinner at Toque!). It just blows my tastebuds way more than the “au torchon” version. To make matter worst, I really had average experiences in Mtl & surroundings with most preparations of the “au torchon” version (even at upscale restaurants, with only the one I had last summer at M Sur Masson being a highlight  (it was tiny in portion, but oh so intense and of high quality) along with the one at Toque!, too.
As to this one, the pate consistency was ideal: beautifully velvety, not too firm, not mushy  and enjoyably meaty, like I expect my au torchon foie gras to be. The La Canardière foie gras is a truely top quality foie produced in QC’s region of L’Estrie.
Tastyness: Excellent freshness + superior quality of the foie  reflected in this lovable tasty au torchon foie gras in it’s simplest splendour. The honey caramel was delicious and complemented so well the foie.
Overall Value: for the top quality foie gras, this is definitely of nice value. As for the accompaniment, I’d skip only the celery (not to be seen as a reproach here: the celery –you can see it at the bottom of the picture— adds actually a cute textural visual balance to the overall dish, was good and fresh on it’s own but not quite complementing the foie, to my tastebuds opinion) but the honey caramel was simply divine!
My only suggestion: put more complexity into the 3 pieces of toasts, for ie offer 1 honey-flavored baked toast, another one could be spice bread..etc. 8/10

See how they cook one stands to me as the best pan-seared foie I ever tasted on any upscale fine dining table, here and abroad included. 

 2670-0w0h0_Domaine_Croix_Saint_Salvy_Gaillac_Doux_Croix_Saint_Salvy Pairing wine: Gaillac Doux 2006, Grain de Folie Douce, Causses Marines – although I know so well this wine (one favourite of mine), I do also appreciate seeing it served on a restaurant table. It’s a great wine full of intensity, dense, with  aromatic nose of   prune, honey, currant, and an enjoyable long finish. Solid value. As for the pairing, it tuned out, in mouth, as  nice match to the foie (Undoubtly even better with some pan-seared foie gras). 

Served in a tajine:

RESTAURANT L'EAU A LA BOUCHE, SAINTE-ADELE,QC - Roasted squab, risotto, wild and cultivated mushroom Roasted squab, risotto, wild and cultivated mushrooms, cooking jus, tonka bean and mint – 

RESTAURANT L'EAU A LA BOUCHE, SAINTE-ADELE,QC - Roasted squab, risotto, wild and cultivated mushroom Roasted squab – There are some few meats that are victims of severe judgements from my tastebuds  like Squabs and Quails, courtesy — perhaps— to the fact that I seldomly get to eat them and many cooks managed to somehow serve it either bland or try to my table. The rewarding aspect of this stands in the fact that whenever  it impresses me, the squab or quail had to be an exceptional exercice of cooking mastery and tastebud wonder (well, to my tastebuds of course!). 
This simple preparation of theirs perfectly accented the natural flavors of the fowl, the pigeon’s meat had the ideal texture, slight smoky-ness and tasty meaty juicy-ness. Delicious tender squab taht kept it’s gamey taste intact. The squab was roasted to perfection. 10/10 for the roasted squab.
I feel a bit uncomfortable when judging risottos: I have been perfectionning this at home for years, at least once a month, so needless to stress that in such circumstances you are afraid to be harsh on judging others risottos. Fortunately, I can be completely detached from that aspect and fully focus on someone else’s risotto as my tastebuds sense it. This  risotto was delicious and delicate on it’s own, not mushy but at ideal al-dente consistency, sporting a nice texture, ideal creaminess, delicious taste and enhanced by a subtle enjoyable citrus aroma. 8.5/10 for this risotto. The risotto I had last year at Restaurant Primo & Secondo in Montreal  is still KING, but the Desjardins are doing a really good job at this, too. 
The mushrooms brought the right level of earthiness to balance with the earthy-tone of the squab meat.
Complexity: Honestly, High. Think about how time-consuming and fussy a risotto can be. I know, this is a big league restaurant and surely a simple affair for them, but it is still not as simple as 1,2,3 + it takes a considerable level of focus, patience and skills to make a delicious risotto. This was definitely not our so called easy easy home made risottos. Add to this, the master cooking behind that flawless roasted pigeon + the righful balance of flavors in there.8/10
Niagara Escarpment VQA 2006, Gamay Pairing wine: Niagara Escarpment VQA 2006, Gamay, Malivoire Wine. Being profoundly attached to  France’s terroir wines, I mistakenly left canadian wine sleeping a bit under my radars, and this was a nice reminder to look also this side of the world since some solid nice wines have made their way for a while, now. Unfortunately, this very specific 2006 Malivoire made of Gamay grapes was disappointing to my tastebud: it lacked body (way too light-bodied for me) and character. Slight nose of rosemary, tannic, just not as delicate and aromatic as I wished.

RESTAURANT L'EAU A LA BOUCHE, SAINTE-ADELE,QC - Wild Boar,  roasted contre-filet, braised shoulder, Wild Boar,  roasted contre-filet, braised shoulder, rutabaga and butternut squash, cranberry and green pepper corn sauce – The best Boar dish I ever had since a long time was the braised Boar I devoured at LCCP on Nov 13th 2009 (It’s the Braised Boar / See course #4 of that dinner): that was pure cooking genius and a stunning concerto of decadent flavors/textures/tastes. Since then, I had my share of satisfying, but not memorable, boar dishes at many restaurants this side of the border. So I was looking forward to taste  L’Eau à la Bouche’s take on the Boar: the meat came in two ways: roasted (tender and flavorful) + braised (even more enjoyable to my tastebuds since it was packed with deeper flavors and tasted great. In both versions, the meat was nicely tenderized, and they manage to skillfully avoid the easy dry-ness this meat can easily indulge into. Nice work too on keeping the natural gamey taste of the meat.  8/10
Pairing wine: Palacio de Ibor Reserva Valdepeñas 2004.  It’s a wine from the Spaniard’s region of Castilla de la Mancha. Appelation Valdepenas. This affordable tempranillo (made from a small portion of Cabernet Sauvignon, too) wine (off side note: if you are seeking for nice value wines, this one is a great value red wine for the $$$, btw ) is packed with a nice tannic presence, has low acidity, a nice structure and remarquable enjoyably fruity (cherry) notes + aromas of coffee. Nice complexity. Liked it, especially with the Boar meat ( found it to pair nicely with this meat).

RESTAURANT L'EAU A LA BOUCHE, SAINTE-ADELE,QC - Heirloom beet salad, creamy goat cheese, ham salt, r Heirloom” beet salad, creamy goat cheese, ham salt, roasted nuts  – The quality of the beet is remarquable here. Nicely boiled, the various types of beets tasted great and the work of textures at display on this dish is appealing to the eyes. The creamy goat cheese was tasty. Roasted nuts adding an enjoyable nutty touch to the overall. A simple dish, with a homey feel.
ARBOIS 2005 Pairing wine: Arbois 2005, Béthanie, Fruitière Vinicole d’Arbois. It’s a France’s region of Jura (Sub region of Arbois) Chardonnay that I know very well. Very affordable rich fruity wine, with fine minerality, citrus aromas. Paired naturally well with the beets salad dish.

Before I conclude with the dessert, try this  highly recommendable 1986 Château-Chalon Yellow wine if you get a chance:

1986 Château-Chalon

The dessert:

RESTAURANT L'EAU A LA BOUCHE, SAINTE-ADELE,QC - Mango and litchi, coconut  macaron, mango jelly  Mango and litchi, coconut “macaron”, mango jelly  – I have a huge weak spot for tropical fruits. Mango and litchis are among those I like the most. Last year, L’eau à la bouche won my heart with an amazing…roasted pineapple marvel (hi..hi..I told you: those tropical fruits drive me nuts! Rfaol!). This time, it sounded as interesting too with such thing like mango jelly and coconut macaron and I was looking for my tastebuds to interpret this all: although enjoyably flavorful , the macaron (6/10) was too dry and too crunchy. In the middle, a sorbet of litchi (delicious, rich and memorable 10/10) and on the far right a mango brunoise (6/10 Just ok). 

SO, Voilà! My last year’s tasting menu at L’Eau à la Bouche (ranked #1ex aequo personal top dinner at all Mtl and surroundings restaurants of my 2009-2010 exercise) was more on the ‘upscale fine-dining’ range whereas this year’s (ranked #15  personal top dinner at all Mtl and surroundings restaurants of my 2009-2010 exercise)  pertains to the ‘upscale bistro-esque’ repertoire. Either way, L’Eau à la Bouche can deliver some of the top finest dining experiences of this province (on this dinner, most patrons at neighboring tables who picked some of the à la carte menu items had experienced the full potential of the huge fine dining talent of this table, so do not rely solely on the bistro-esque trend of my latest tasting menu).

IMPECCABLE WORLD CLASS SERVICE, AWESOME SOMMELIER
What a charming wait staff: sociable, extremely accomodating and professional. Exactly what I do expect from a Relais & Chateaux (Remarquable High standard of customer service). And charming they are: At some point, our sommelier of the evening, Valerie (who does, by the way, an awesome work at patiently describing and elaborating on each wine), learned from my part that I was charmed one year earlier by the poetic presentation of wines made by Mr Pierre, who has been one star of the restaurant for almost 22 years. She made sure that Mr Pierre appeared at my table towards the end of the dinner. Awesome charming touch!

CHARMING COUNTRYSIDE INTERIOR DINNING ROOM
As you already know from the Febr 13th 2009 report, the interior decor is simple, small, with low ceilings and above all, in perfect harmony with the basics of French countryside interiors  that it naturally has to relate to. Although simple looking, it has a charming elegance to it. Let’s go through a little visual tour of it all:

RESTAURANT L'EAU A LA BOUCHE, SAINTE-ADELE,QC(3) As soon we got in, we faceda small little bar where a welcoming staff (smiley, sociable) welcomed us:

RESTAURANT L'EAU A LA BOUCHE, SAINTE-ADELE,QC(4)
As I wrote earlier on, the dining room has a cute countryside interior type of decor:

RESTAURANT L'EAU A LA BOUCHE, SAINTE-ADELE,QC(5)

RESTAURANT L'EAU A LA BOUCHE, SAINTE-ADELE,QC(6)

PROS: This is indeed in the top 3 finest tables of Quebec Province. All the top tables supposedly as great or greater than this one have failed to prove me otherwise. I am not talking about value for my bucks here, but the ‘gourmet’ aspect in itself. So, the 1st meal (Febr 13th 2009) there was simply stunning. We had at our neighbouring table a couple who was familiar with this globe’s finest tables and they agreed that that meal (they were having the same tasting menu we have chosen) was of top 2 star Michelin standard even right at the heart of Michelin stardom: France. But…

CONS: But…the 2nd meal was inferior to the 1st (and this has nothing to do with the fact that the 1st occurence is always more ‘magical’). Talking about the 2nd meal, I do expect such top level dining venture to not miss a simple macaron. It is a forgivable slip given what they have proven on the 1st meal, but this should not happen. And when  you opt for something slighlty less ‘gourmet’ and more ‘bistro’ ( as it was the case with the tasting menu on the 2nd meal), I become less of a fan. Lastly, The ‘smoke trout’ and the ‘foie gras au torchon’ dishes would have benefited from a more elaborate  ‘gourmet’ concept/construction (they were too straightforwardly conceived for this level of dining). What justifies an outstanding gourmet level of dining is its complexity, done superbly well. I did not get such depth of successful complexity on this 2nd meal ..which I should expect at at such high $$$!

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Restaurant L’eau à la bouche, Sainte-Adele: Take Two

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

Dinner at L’Eau à La Bouche, Sat Febr 27th 2010, 18:00PM
3003 Boulevard Sainte-Adèle
Sainte-Adèle  (Québec)
Phone: 450 229 2991
URL: http://www.leaualabouche.com/
Particularity: A Relais & Chateaux restaurant
Type of dining: Upscale market cuisine / French Fine dining
READ: My report about the 1st dinner here (Febr 13th 2009).

RESTAURANT L'EAU A LA BOUCHE, SAINTE-ADELE,QC(2) Second visit at Restaurant L’eau à la bouche, Sainte-Adele in the Laurentides (in between Montreal and Tremblant). As most already know, this is the restaurant of star chef Anne Desjardins and one of the very few  Relais & Chateaux tables of Eastern Canada/Quebec. L’Eau à la Bouche is one of QC’s very top best fine dining tables along with Hotel Saint-James XO Le Restaurant, Toque! / Nuances in Montréal, Initiale in Quebec City, Quintessence in Tremblant. Last time we dined there, that was on February 13th 2009 (ref: click here for my review of that dinner) and that tasting menu we had back then was simply stunning. We were excited to see if this magic would perpertuate and went this time again with their tasting menu.

Kicked off with an Ok Rhum coco/blood orange/grapefruit:
RESTAURANT L'EAU A LA BOUCHE, SAINTE-ADELE,QC - RHUM COCO, ORANGE SANGUINE, PAMPLEMOUSSE Rhum coco/blood orange/grapefruit: Ok, satisfying cocktail (7/10). A second cocktail of gin/tonic (10/10) was more memorable.

Next came a mise en bouche of:

RESTAURANT L'EAU A LA BOUCHE, SAINTE-ADELE,QC - WILD MUSHROOMS, CHIVES, CREME FRAICHE Wild mushroom/chives/creme fraiche potage: evenly seasoned, not too creamy not too light, enjoyably slightly peppery with the chives adding a nice touch to the earthiness of the whole potage. Welcoming refreshing touch from the crème fraiche. Good. 8/10

Followed by:
RESTAURANT L'EAU A LA BOUCHE, SAINTE-ADELE,QC - SMOKED TROUT, CREME FRAICHE, HORSE RADISH Smoked trout from Sainte-Agathe crème fraiche, horseradish, wakamé, roasted sesame seeds – The cold smoked fish’s flesh sported an ideal pink texture. The trout was oozing with it’s enjoyable natural strong flavour. The sweet, smoky flavor of the fish was delightfully enhanced by the mix of the creme fraiche and horseradish that provided an excellent kick to the smoked trout (although common — horseradish/creme fraiche acompanying smoked fish is common affair— this was more importantlyl very tasty). 10/10 for the match Smoked Trout/Horseradish/Creme Fraiche.
Wakame: Crunchy, fresh  and tasty. Drizzling it with the sesame seeds was a great touch and turned out to be a convincing great work of taste. On it’s own, it was excellent, but not a convincing accompaniment to the smoky trout.
Precision of the cooking: 5/5 (The trout ont it’s own was nicely smoked)
Tastyness: 5/5  for the taste of the trout, same for each other element on their own
Complexity: Medium
Overall Value: 4/5 
wine Pairing wine: Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Reserva Selection Limitée , Montes – Vallée de Leyda, Chile
It is a wine unknown to me, which is exactly what I seek for since I love discovering wines. And it turned out as a welcoming surprise to my tastebuds: nice medium-bodied mineral wine, aromatic with a nose of grass and enjoyably fruity aromas too (my tastebuds sensed aromas of litchi and cantaloup). I love this white wine: it’s aromatic, intense. To my tastebuds, this balanced so well with the smoky aspect of the trout. Great wine pairing.  

RESTAURANT L'EAU A LA BOUCHE, SAINTE-ADELE,QC - DUCK FOIE GRAS AU TORCHON, CELERY, HONEY CARAMEL Fresh duck foie gras from “la Canardière” “au torchon”, celery, honey caramel  – To be honest, although “au torchon” preparations keep most part of the taste/flavors of the foie, I am more a fan of pan-seared foie (especially the ones concocted by Toque!, Bistro Cocagne and APDC. I have always said that Laprise-Loiseau-Picard have among the best techniques of pan-seared foie gras concoctions. L’Eau à la Bouche’s pan-seared foie on my 1st dinner there in Febr 2009 was also a blast, sharing actually the position of best pan-seared I ever had on a fine dining table — here & abroad’s included — with the item #3 of the last dinner at Toque!). It just blows my tastebuds way more than the “au torchon” version. To make matter worst, I really had average experiences in Mtl & surroundings with most preparations of the “au torchon” version (even at upscale restaurants, with only the one I had last summer at M Sur Masson being a highlight  (it was tiny in portion, but oh so intense and of high quality) along with the one at Toque!, too.
As to this one, the pate consistency was ideal: beautifully velvety, not too firm, not mushy  and enjoyably meaty, like I expect my au torchon foie gras to be. The La Canardière foie gras is a truely top quality foie produced in QC’s region of L’Estrie.
Tastyness: Excellent freshness + superior quality of the foie  reflected in this lovable tasty au torchon foie gras in it’s simplest splendour. The honey caramel was delicious and complemented so well the foie.
Overall Value: for the top quality foie gras, this is definitely of nice value. As for the accompaniment, I’d skip only the celery (not to be seen as a reproach here: the celery –you can see it at the bottom of the picture— adds actually a cute textural visual balance to the overall dish, was good and fresh on it’s own but not quite complementing the foie, to my tastebuds opinion) but the honey caramel was simply divine!
My only suggestion: put more complexity into the 3 pieces of toasts, for ie offer 1 honey-flavored baked toast, another one could be spice bread..etc. 8/10

See how they cook one stands to me as the best pan-seared foie I ever tasted on any upscale fine dining table, here and abroad included. 

 2670-0w0h0_Domaine_Croix_Saint_Salvy_Gaillac_Doux_Croix_Saint_Salvy Pairing wine: Gaillac Doux 2006, Grain de Folie Douce, Causses Marines – although I know so well this wine (one favourite of mine), I do also appreciate seeing it served on a restaurant table. It’s a great wine full of intensity, dense, with  aromatic nose of   prune, honey, currant, and an enjoyable long finish. Solid value. As for the pairing, it tuned out, in mouth, as  nice match to the foie (Undoubtly even better with some pan-seared foie gras). 

Served in a tajine:

RESTAURANT L'EAU A LA BOUCHE, SAINTE-ADELE,QC - Roasted squab, risotto, wild and cultivated mushroom Roasted squab, risotto, wild and cultivated mushrooms, cooking jus, tonka bean and mint – 

RESTAURANT L'EAU A LA BOUCHE, SAINTE-ADELE,QC - Roasted squab, risotto, wild and cultivated mushroom Roasted squab – There are some few meats that are victims of severe judgements from my tastebuds  like Squabs and Quails, courtesy — perhaps— to the fact that I seldomly get to eat them and many cooks managed to somehow serve it either bland or try to my table. The rewarding aspect of this stands in the fact that whenever  it impresses me, the squab or quail had to be an exceptional exercice of cooking mastery and tastebud wonder (well, to my tastebuds of course!). 
This simple preparation of theirs perfectly accented the natural flavors of the fowl, the pigeon’s meat had the ideal texture, slight smoky-ness and tasty meaty juicy-ness. Delicious tender squab taht kept it’s gamey taste intact. The squab was roasted to perfection. 10/10 for the roasted squab.
I feel a bit uncomfortable when judging risottos: I have been perfectionning this at home for years, at least once a month, so needless to stress that in such circumstances you are afraid to be harsh on judging others risottos. Fortunately, I can be completely detached from that aspect and fully focus on someone else’s risotto as my tastebuds sense it. This  risotto was delicious and delicate on it’s own, not mushy but at ideal al-dente consistency, sporting a nice texture, ideal creaminess, delicious taste and enhanced by a subtle enjoyable citrus aroma. 8.5/10 for this risotto. The risotto I had last year at Restaurant Primo & Secondo in Montreal  is still KING, but the Desjardins are doing a really good job at this, too. 
The mushrooms brought the right level of earthiness to balance with the earthy-tone of the squab meat.
Complexity: Honestly, High. Think about how time-consuming and fussy a risotto can be. I know, this is a big league restaurant and surely a simple affair for them, but it is still not as simple as 1,2,3 + it takes a considerable level of focus, patience and skills to make a delicious risotto. This was definitely not our so called easy easy home made risottos. Add to this, the master cooking behind that flawless roasted pigeon + the righful balance of flavors in there.8/10
Niagara Escarpment VQA 2006, Gamay Pairing wine: Niagara Escarpment VQA 2006, Gamay, Malivoire Wine. Being profoundly attached to  France’s terroir wines, I mistakenly left canadian wine sleeping a bit under my radars, and this was a nice reminder to look also this side of the world since some solid nice wines have made their way for a while, now. Unfortunately, this very specific 2006 Malivoire made of Gamay grapes was disappointing to my tastebud: it lacked body (way too light-bodied for me) and character. Slight nose of rosemary, tannic, just not as delicate and aromatic as I wished.

RESTAURANT L'EAU A LA BOUCHE, SAINTE-ADELE,QC - Wild Boar,  roasted contre-filet, braised shoulder, Wild Boar,  roasted contre-filet, braised shoulder, rutabaga and butternut squash, cranberry and green pepper corn sauce – The best Boar dish I ever had since a long time was the braised Boar I devoured at LCCP on Nov 13th 2009 (It’s the Braised Boar / See course #4 of that dinner): that was pure cooking genius and a stunning concerto of decadent flavors/textures/tastes. Since then, I had my share of satisfying, but not memorable, boar dishes at many restaurants this side of the border. So I was looking forward to taste  L’Eau à la Bouche’s take on the Boar: the meat came in two ways: roasted (tender and flavorful) + braised (even more enjoyable to my tastebuds since it was packed with deeper flavors and tasted great. In both versions, the meat was nicely tenderized, and they manage to skillfully avoid the easy dry-ness this meat can easily indulge into. Nice work too on keeping the natural gamey taste of the meat.  8/10
Pairing wine: Palacio de Ibor Reserva Valdepeñas 2004.  It’s a wine from the Spaniard’s region of Castilla de la Mancha. Appelation Valdepenas. This affordable tempranillo (made from a small portion of Cabernet Sauvignon, too) wine (off side note: if you are seeking for nice value wines, this one is a great value red wine for the $$$, btw ) is packed with a nice tannic presence, has low acidity, a nice structure and remarquable enjoyably fruity (cherry) notes + aromas of coffee. Nice complexity. Liked it, especially with the Boar meat ( found it to pair nicely with this meat).

RESTAURANT L'EAU A LA BOUCHE, SAINTE-ADELE,QC - Heirloom beet salad, creamy goat cheese, ham salt, r Heirloom” beet salad, creamy goat cheese, ham salt, roasted nuts  – The quality of the beet is remarquable here. Nicely boiled, the various types of beets tasted great and the work of textures at display on this dish is appealing to the eyes. The creamy goat cheese was tasty. Roasted nuts adding an enjoyable nutty touch to the overall. A simple dish, with a homey feel.
ARBOIS 2005 Pairing wine: Arbois 2005, Béthanie, Fruitière Vinicole d’Arbois. It’s a France’s region of Jura (Sub region of Arbois) Chardonnay that I know very well. Very affordable rich fruity wine, with fine minerality, citrus aromas. Paired naturally well with the beets salad dish.

Before I conclude with the dessert, try this  highly recommendable 1986 Château-Chalon Yellow wine if you get a chance:

1986 Château-Chalon

The dessert:

RESTAURANT L'EAU A LA BOUCHE, SAINTE-ADELE,QC - Mango and litchi, coconut  macaron, mango jelly  Mango and litchi, coconut “macaron”, mango jelly  – I have a huge weak spot for tropical fruits. Mango and litchis are among those I like the most. Last year, L’eau à la bouche won my heart with an amazing…roasted pineapple marvel (hi..hi..I told you: those tropical fruits drive me nuts! Rfaol!). This time, it sounded as interesting too with such thing like mango jelly and coconut macaron and I was looking for my tastebuds to interpret this all: although enjoyably flavorful , the macaron (6/10) was too dry and too crunchy. In the middle, a sorbet of litchi (delicious, rich and memorable 10/10) and on the far right a mango brunoise (6/10 Just ok). 

SO, Voilà! My last year’s tasting menu at L’Eau à la Bouche (ranked #1ex aequo personal top dinner at all Mtl and surroundings restaurants of my 2009-2010 exercise) was more on the ‘upscale fine-dining’ range whereas this year’s (ranked #15  personal top dinner at all Mtl and surroundings restaurants of my 2009-2010 exercise)  pertains to the ‘upscale bistro-esque’ repertoire. Either way, L’Eau à la Bouche can deliver some of the top finest dining experiences of this province (on this dinner, most patrons at neighboring tables who picked some of the à la carte menu items had experienced the full potential of the huge fine dining talent of this table, so do not rely solely on the bistro-esque trend of my latest tasting menu).

IMPECCABLE WORLD CLASS SERVICE, AWESOME SOMMELIER
What a charming wait staff: sociable, extremely accomodating and professional. Exactly what I do expect from a Relais & Chateaux (Remarquable High standard of customer service). And charming they are: At some point, our sommelier of the evening, Valerie (who does, by the way, an awesome work at patiently describing and elaborating on each wine), learned from my part that I was charmed one year earlier by the poetic presentation of wines made by Mr Pierre, who has been one star of the restaurant for almost 22 years. She made sure that Mr Pierre appeared at my table towards the end of the dinner. Awesome charming touch!

CHARMING COUNTRYSIDE INTERIOR DINNING ROOM
As you already know from the Febr 13th 2009 report, the interior decor is simple, small, with low ceilings and above all, in perfect harmony with the basics of French countryside interiors  that it naturally has to relate to. Although simple looking, it has a charming elegance to it. Let’s go through a little visual tour of it all:

RESTAURANT L'EAU A LA BOUCHE, SAINTE-ADELE,QC(3) As soon we got in, we faceda small little bar where a welcoming staff (smiley, sociable) welcomed us:

RESTAURANT L'EAU A LA BOUCHE, SAINTE-ADELE,QC(4)
As I wrote earlier on, the dining room has a cute countryside interior type of decor:

RESTAURANT L'EAU A LA BOUCHE, SAINTE-ADELE,QC(5)

RESTAURANT L'EAU A LA BOUCHE, SAINTE-ADELE,QC(6)

PROS: This is indeed in the top 3 finest tables of Quebec Province. All the top tables supposedly as great or greater than this one have failed to prove me otherwise. I am not talking about value for my bucks here, but the ‘gourmet’ aspect in itself. So, the 1st meal (Febr 13th 2009) there was simply stunning. We had at our neighbouring table a couple who was familiar with this globe’s finest tables and they agreed that that meal (they were having the same tasting menu we have chosen) was of top 2 star Michelin standard even right at the heart of Michelin stardom: France. But…

CONS: But…the 2nd meal was inferior to the 1st (and this has nothing to do with the fact that the 1st occurence is always more ‘magical’). Talking about the 2nd meal, I do expect such top level dining venture to not miss a simple macaron. It is a forgivable slip given what they have proven on the 1st meal, but this should not happen. And when  you opt for something slighlty less ‘gourmet’ and more ‘bistro’ ( as it was the case with the tasting menu on the 2nd meal), I become less of a fan. Lastly, The ‘smoke trout’ and the ‘foie gras au torchon’ dishes would have benefited from a more elaborate  ‘gourmet’ concept/construction (they were too straightforwardly conceived for this level of dining). What justifies an outstanding gourmet level of dining is its complexity, done superbly well. I did not get such depth of successful complexity on this 2nd meal ..which I should expect at at such high $$$!

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BEST TABLES OF QUEBEC: L’eau à la bouche, Sainte-Adèle, Quebec – A perfect dinner

Event: Dinner on Friday February 13th 2009 19:30
Addr: 3003 boul. Ste-Adèle, Sainte-Adèle, Québec, Canada, J8B 2N6
READ: Click here for the report on the second dinner there on Febr 27th 2010 (The 2nd dinner impressed me less, perhaps of a standard 1 Michelin-star Caliber rather than the 2-star caliber level experienced on this below reported dinner. We took the tasting menu on both occasions, so I hope I can fairly give a better and definitive opinion once I’d sample the  A la Carte menu)
Web site: http://www.leaualabouche.com/ 

Aromes’s mention: EXCELLENT

Arome’s the food blog: Q&A’s, Guidelines, Ethics, Vision

It is a restaurant we wanted to try for a long time. We found in St Valentine’s week end, the perfect excuse to book a table there on top of lodging at their hotel as well. Saturday Febr 14th was already fully booked  (not a surprised since it’s the V day!) , so we picked the day before. For the room, we took the $240/pers suite (We see lots of ppl complaining over the web about average rooms at this hotel. Well, you get what you pay for, right? The suite we had was definitely up par with the most luxurious Relais & Chateaux that you will find in the world. But if you go for the classic room, oh well…it will be classic!). Yeah, I know..it’s relatively $$$, but this is no cheapie B&B!

So, back to the restaurant. That was our very 1st time there. It is not connected to the suite, so you walk 5-7 little minutes to get there. It is very small, plain, very low ceilings: when you enter, you face  a small bar. Then you have one part of the restaurant on the left and another on the right. Both parts, although tiny and plain, are a bit different: we dinned on the right part. That part is as small as about 6,7  small to medium size tables, was sparsely and simply decorated, with a predominance of white everywhere (white tablecloths, white walls). I”ve read about ppl complaining that the restaurant beeing small and average. They are missing the point here: this is the countryside and the restaurant is in perfect harmony with it. I don’t want to  see a super luxurious modern restaurant in such surroundings.

There was a choice of either à la carte menu or the $150 six course discovery (tasting) menu. As it seems common with most restaurant’s tasting menu offers, if you take the tasting menu, your dinner partner has to take that tasting menu as well.

 EAU A LA BOUCHE, FEBR 13TH MENU First course  is called “Trois demoiselles lascives offrant leurs chairs nues à vos regards amoureux, Rasberry point, Colville Bay et Beausoleil“…Lol, I am not kidding! Translation: “3 young ladies offering their naked flesh to your lover’s glances, Rasberry Point, Colville Bay and Beausoleil”! OMG!! Well, I guess they wanted to be original with those poetic sentences, BUT I’d strongly suggest they rethink this…lol..no biggie mind you. Ok, behind this poetic sentence, it was basically 3 oysters beautifully presented on s small rectangular plate. The 3 oysters were reworked by the chef: One had a subtle soya-ginger dressing (not impressed!), another one had a celery-apple subtly flavored dressing (a big no..no! Celery nor apple are not what you should put up against sea food…it not only brings nothing but actually kills the natural taste of the oyster. Bland!). The 3rd oyster was nice: it had what you expect on an oyster: a lemon zest!! Ha..finalement! Of the 6 services, this is one was the only flaw: I rated this dish with a 1/5 rating. Keep my oysters natural!! Do not try seducing them! The wine pairing was nice though: a Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene 2007, Crede, Bisol, Italy  (nicely balanced with the oysters). Fyi: Rasberry Point (http://www.raspberrypoint.com/index2.htm) is an oyster provider company. Same for Colville Bay (http://www.colvillebayoysterco.ca/) and Beausoleil (http://www.maisonbeausoleil.ca/).

Second course was: “Coup de foudre à l’unilatéral d’un pétoncle languissant d’émotion”. Translated into “Unilateral crush of a scallop full of emotions”…. Basically, it was one nice scallop, perfectly seared on one side (à l’unilatéral), fully flavoured. Really nice. It was accompanied by the best and finest ribbons of brussels sprout (chiffonade de choux de Bruxelles) I ever ate at any high end table (technique of execution that is as complex as perfectly achieved + the taste was heavenly). Paired with an ok Viognier 2007, Tous Ensemble, Copain Wines (California). I rated this dish with a 10/10 (Really flawless. You would complain only if you are into absolute huge portions of  food…but well, for that, fo to “Au pied de cochon”! Rfaol!) 

Third course: “Don Juan de la Canardière en escalope poélée et ses rougeurs couleur betterave”. This was a delicious, evenly cooked chunk of veal. Accompanied by an elegant and refreshing nicely executed beet reduction. Perfect!  10/10

Fourth course: “Étude charnelle autour d’un canard supremement bio de la ferme Morgan”. This was the standout dish! I had my fair amount of raving pan-seared foie gras at tables as high end as Ducasse, Joel Robuchon, El Bulli, Noma, Fat Duck, Hélène Darroze, Gagnaire and so on… but very few had impressed me as much as this one: beautifully presented (in the a perfect oval shape reminding an egg but flattier), the foie gras was of perfect luxury (in terms of high end quality), seared heavenly, packed with memorable flavors, sported the perfect smooth mouthsome and has a perfect succulent taste. 9/10

5th course was named “Belle tartiflette au kenogami cherchant amant torride pour  fusion totale”. This was basically a rich and savourish gratin-alike mix of melting-mouth creamy and tasty cheese, perfectly baked potatoes and delicious chunks of lardons. Although easy to make, I was amazed by this dish:  I’ve tasted a lot of superb tartiflettes in France and this is the one that kills them all. As impressive as that (really hearty, stunningly tasty with the all creamy tangy flavor I do expect from a perfectly executed tartiflette).
It was paired with an Alsace 2006, Domaine Marcel Deiss (well researched pairing, imho).
Rated this course with a 9/10

6th and last course was the type of dessert I am fond of -> Named “Amour des Iles et souvenirs  d’une chair tendrement épicée “, it proved to me how the talent of this chef expands  to the  exotic territory we do not expect him to shine at: this one fresh pineapple savory, was bathed with  an irresistible  mixture of high quality rhum and caramel.  The banana sorbet that came along was very tasty and way superior to the usual best banana sorbets. Delicious is an under-statement! 10/10

I guess only cloud here (apart course #1) would be this one -> Both the 5th (tartiflette) and 6th item (dessert) came as one course to be shared. It’s not the end of the world, BUT…when both persons are paying for a course per head…you do expect one course per head!! 

The service on this dinner was super courteous and warm: the gentleman who welcomed us at the entrance is …I believe … probably their sommelier. Well, he was at least acting like it. He is very knowledgeable about wines and seemed to have lots of interesting strory tellings (without beeing too invading). He has the perfect charismatic Maitre D’ presence and was flawless. A second waiter was a very sympathic gentleman with whom we had fun exchanging in Spanish and the 3rd was a seasonal young quebecer waiter who was polite, courteous, very helpful and we had lots of fun talking with him about anything in general.  Overall: phenomenal service! 

L’eau à la bouche seduced me with it’s impeccable exciting cuisine du terroir (local products).
Thanks to the Lord, I was gifted with some dinners at world’s best tables like El Bulli, Noma,  the Fat Duck, Pierre Gagnaire, Ducasse, Robuchon … and yet, there’s that little simple table,  right there in the country side, that pleases my heart as much as those big names! 

It’s rare..very rare…but I sometimes come around critics who dare putting down this cuisine. I’m willing to be opened to all kind of opinions, but putting down such high end well executed cuisine  just reinforces my skepticism: “there’s no way those whiners REALLY sat at this table!”..there’s just no way!!

VERY EXCEPTIONALLY, WHENEVER A TABLE PARTICULARLY SEDUCES ME (THIS IS BASED SOLELY ON THE AMAZEMENT OF  THE TASTE OF IT’S FOOD, FROM MY TASTEBUDS PERSPECTIVE), I WILL END MY REVIEW OF THAT TABLE WITH A ROSE (LOL), THE EQUIVALENT OF “BEST CHOICE” MENTION FOR OTHERS: 
roses3

Check all my Mtl’s restaurant quick reviews on YELP


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