Disclaimer: This is going to be a low quality review - just getting that out of the way upfront. I am a bit hesitant but I was requested by a fellow CH member to post it anyway as the new location for La Montee hasn't gotten many reviews yet. I recently lost the usage of my dominant hand so I no longer make notes when dining solo and I was a bit tipsy when the meal began (they were booked and only had reservations for 10pm so I had a few drinks in me already). The entire experience is more than a little fuzzy, hence my reservations. /End DIsclaimer, here we go:
This way my first time at La Montee since the move to St Laurent/Laurirer-Fairmount in Mile End (the previous location of Bouchonne). Having had wonderful experiences at the downtown location I had no worries and was comfortable enough to basically order from the hip. I felt like sampling a variety of items as the menu was 75% seafood (which I have been craving as of late) and because I stuck with all meat dishes on my last visit. So after a quick glance at the chalkboard I started with a simple "6 oysters and one each of all the items on the snack menu", figuring I would see how that went and how full I was before deciding on an app, 2 apps, app + main or whatever. Maybe this was my problem? Maybe the snack menu is not meant to be eaten in its entirety at one sitting? Regardless, I did not find the majority of the items to be enjoyable.
oysters - Soft nose, moderately plump with a briny taste. Not a delicate oyster but not bad at all. The problem was that they were not shucked properly, nearly half were still partially attached to the shell. I didn't check my first one so I ended up in a slightly less than graceful pose with a mouth full of liquor and the oyster meat half way past my lips holding on for dear life. The oysters came with a shot glass of sweet orange-garlic sauce but I took a pinky taste and steered clear.
shrimp stick - The battered and deep fried shrimp stick was definitely the most enjoyable item of the evening. It was served stuck in a glass half full of a mayo-based sauce with a pleasing nutty curry-ish flavor, thankfully the sauce was good. It stood up well to the deep fried decapod and the decapod was plump enough to handle the breading and frying while remaining moist and flavorful.
salmon? - Honestly I don't remember what this was. It was some sort of fish (I think salmon) and some sort of chopped veggies plopped into another large pool of mayo sauce, except this sauce just tasted like straight mayo out of the jar. Maybe they threw in a pinch of herbs for the look but it didn't make a difference. It completely masked all the other ingredients and had me contemplating an extremely sharp white wine, statim.
white tuna ceviche - The only dish whose name I remember explicitly because the fish was definitely not white tuna. I suspect this is made in batches and left to sit as the meat had lost all natural firmness against the tooth and distinct flavor. Shaved carrots and crisp greens placed on top (I don't know this vegetable but it was very tasty, looked like tiny asparagus heads) with two pieces of fish underneath bathing in the citrus marinade spotted with diced red peppers. Not horrible but I would not order it again.
something else on top of an orange colored sauce? - By now I was just about poisoned with mayonnaise in a waking-coma. I can't even recall if this was fish or meat. It came with some veggies or salad and was dropped into a pool of orange colored mayo-based sauce. I'm really sorry but at this point I wasn't paying attention at all and just wanted to run to Jun-I to get some clean, fresh sashimi goodness to balance the onslaught of mayonnaise.
I had planned on ordering more but given the starters, I thought it best to cut my losses and head to Jun-I to complete the evening. Service was a bit substandard throughout the meal (note that it was busy and every table was booked), the waiter let out an audible sigh when I requested a slightly dryer glass of wine to go with my oysters (the first was way too sweet) and proceeded to serve the second taste in the same glass. Really? The same glass? All pours of the evening were generous in size. Also, I received no bread basket. I didn't want any bread but still, it was a lax in service as the table to either side of me received some. They were parties of 2 and 6 respectively and I was only 1 but I expect the same standard of service when dining out. I requested the bill from the girl that had been bringing my plates (but was not the original waiter that took my order and had been serving me wine), waited 15 minutes and was finally told by my original waiter to come and pay at the register up front. I was in such a rush to get out and make it to Jun-I before closing (and slightly drunken with mayonnaise and wine) that I miscalculated the tip and left the place over 30% when I declined the change (arg). Realized as soon as I stepped outside to light a cigarette. At least Junichi saved the evening and hooked me up with a nice arrangement of solid sashimi as usual :)
I am not sure if it was just an off night or if this is what the loveable La Montee has turned into. Maybe the plater just had a super heavy sauce hand this evening and the items were meant to have a drop of mayo instead of 3 tablespoons? Maybe the usual oyster shucker called in sick and a bus boy who had never even seen an oyster before had to stand in? Maybe they asked him to make the ceviche too and he was so overwhelmed shucking oysters and bussing tables that he ignored the recipe and made a bucketful at once, remembering how his grandfather used to do it in the old days? Anything is possible and this evening could have been an anomaly. After leaving the Plateau for the larger space downtown, failing to turn the business they expected, cannibalizing the sister restaurant Bouchonne just to keep La Montee open in name (and cutting a lot of jobs in the process), one would think they are on relatively thin ice. Sitting here with nostalgia of the old restaurant, I would like to be able to give them another shot and try other items from the menu. Unfortunately, I have a very limited amount of time left in Montreal and many meals I wish to fit in. In light of all the food and service issues I experienced at the Mile End location, I will not be returning.
Restaurant La Montee De Lait
5171 Saint-Laurent, Montreal, QC H2T1M1, CA