L'EXPRESS REVIEW: IN ONE WORD.....RIDICULOUS
And not the good kind. Honestly, the first thing that comes to mind when I think of this restaurant is that old tale of the emperor's invisible clothes. This place was a joke!
First of all we (a crowd of 20-24s to give you an idea) were hastily seated at a table for 3 right next to the windows- despite reservations. Even before we could settle down to take a proper look at the menu, two women were seated RIGHT next to us. When I say next to us, I mean that a hand couldn't fit through the space between the two tables. It was literally like having dinner with two strangers at our table.
This goes way beyond overcrowding to a complete lack of basic knowledge furniture placement. While the two women, obviously regulars, seemed oblivious to our tight quarters, all we could do was go into a laughing frenzy which did not seem to please our waiter.
After declining to order any wine, our glasses were quickly removed from the table to be replaced with....nothing. 15 minutes later we finally had to ask our waiter for some water.
One of my friends filled up on the cold bread while we looked through the ridiculously expensive menu for something good. I went with the lobster bisque and the two others shared a smoked salmon plate.
TASTE-WISE: The food was....good. Not bad by any means but certainly not great. I've had better and more generous smoked salmon from Atwater market and the lobster bisk, while tasty, did not warrant the 7.95$ price tag.
PORTIONS: Another fit of laughter erupted at our 3/5 of a table when I realized that my apparently deep bowl of soup was actually 2 centimeters deep- the rest being ceramic. The spoon couldn't disappear into it- it was that slim. A piece of bread basically soaked up 1/4 of the entire entry.
Annoyed by our lack of space, unwanted proximity to equally-unwanted guests, the fake air of refinery and the RIDICULOUS price tag (we were at 30$ for our wineless entries) , we opted to pay the bill right then and there before exiting.
We settled about 10 feet down the same block at a funky little creperie where we ordered great fries, an amazing veggie croque-monsieur and a very tasty 10$ chicken stuffed with spinach that came with a humongous salad, and pasta. The beer was plentiful, the outdoor setting pleasant (with more than 3 inches away from the next table of students- imagine the luxury), the waitress was smiling and warm, and the receipt was a whoppin' 23$ for 3 people. Less than our 2 minimal entries.
We commented on L'express to her and she laughed, saying we weren't the first. The evening ended at the deservingly crowded Juliette & Chocolat where the awe and reputation is earned with each bite.
So really, Montreal foodies, I can guarantee you that this particular emperor is a freaking nudist because L'Express is....a joke. An expensive, stuffy, who-are-you-kidding joke that I am sure would not get a third of its current clientele if it wasn't for the "French bistro" tag people seem to eat up like crazy.