(sorry for the bastarized frangl-ish )
I've been wanting to go to Toqué! for a long time, but never had the occasion for it.
The occasion finally came that mom is in Paris, leaving dad single for a week, so I decided that it was the proper occasion for it! :-) and yesterday was it.
The restaurant itself is bigger than I expected, and coming in, the larger than expected bar takes a lot of place, and it felt a bit "alone" with no-one at the bar at around 19h.
The floor layout is separated in what looks like 3 sections, front of the bar, down a couple of stairs and a long was with the banquette and a larger space at the back for groups (there was a large groups of 'notables' that had the tour of the cellar "deal").
In short, the room is large, open and quite silent in spite of the high ceilings.
Promptly greated and seated and presented with the menu we (I) decide to go all out for the tasting menu with foie gras and the "prestige" wine pairing. (prices are on the web site for those interrested).
Now, for the food/wine… with the main ingredients only since I forgot the details and there is no printed menu for the menu dégustation.
Amuse Bouche : Couple of wedges of raw apples (mildly fitting that Steve Jobs died yesterday!!) with mild curry and Argan Oil (I have to find some to try at home); it was a very good savour combination.
Entrée #1 : Oursins, served cold in the shell, I do not remember the exact composition, but it was good and refreshing.
Poisson : Roasted Maqueraux with red cabbage; It's not a fish I eat often, but I should, it it
Foie Gras : En terrine, which we both prefer (compared to pan fried); served with a chutney and some matsutake mushrooms as an accompagnment. We both like foie gras, so this one was a wineer.
Viande #1: Lange de Cerf with roasted lettuce; the tonge was slow cooked to butter tenderness, wrapped in pancetta to give it a bit of saltiness; the sauce was a bit too sweet , but the bitterness of the lettuce balanced it out nicely.
Viande #2: Lamb with bordelaise sauce; a classic among classic meat dish; a nice sized lamb saddle (probaby vacuum cooked) and pan-fried finished with a crispy outside and really tender and warm and pink inside; there was also a small lamb bbq-ish "rib"; served with that was a potato "mousse" or light purée which was very good, when it came to the table I was expecting a kind of "robuchon" type purée with a ton of butter, but no, that was light.
Fromage : the most "funky" preparation of the evening; some crumbled Fourme d'Ambert (blue cheese) with some crumbled meringue !!! yes, meringe, the white fluffy sweet thing!!! it sounds weird but it made a interesting dish (*)
Déssert : on one side, a pear sorbet, on the other side, in a sugar "bubble" (made the same way a glass bubble would be done by blowing air to make the bubble) filled with a ?? strawberry mousse with some pistachio; the caramel bubble was impressive, and really delicate; I was also happy that there was no chocolate or other "heavier" sweet dessert.
Wines, served in order
- German Spätlese Riesling. (with the oursin)
- Soave from Pieropan La Rocca (with the maqueraux)
- Radikon Ribolla Gialla (with the foie gras) very different wine than we are used to drink, the grapes are macerated with the juice, so the wine is more tanic and full bodied than normal white wines, while having a intense redish color (not red as in red wine).
- Auxey-Duresses Comte Armand, more dense than a regular bourgogne; but still having a nice freshness. (with the Cerf)
- St-Julien 2001, forgot the producer … but very good.
I was surprised, I liked it very much, There was no bad dishes, or flavor clash or badly prepared dishes; All ingredients were top-notch, the meat and fish were perfectly cooked.
Service was prompt, discreet and timely.
The only small downside is that we were served by at least 5 different people during the evening; they were all very professional, but there was no sense of "relationship" or continuity with the staff.
People asked before on the Chowhound if we have Michelin Star quality restaurants in Montreal; I believe that Toqué! is between 1 and 2 stars (IMO, because of the service, it's not quite perfect, and maybe missing something completely unique that will differenciate it from other restaraunt of this type ).
(*) A note about the cheese course; That kind of different "preparation" reminded me of what Pierre Gagnaire does with chesse courses; for example, the current tasting menu at PG also has Fourme D'Ambert :
"Fourme d’Ambert, mangue et raisins frais enfermés dans une galette de riz"
I don't think Normand Laprise wants to go all out like Pierre Gagnaire does, but it's nice to see a different cheese preparation than the nuts/dried fruits/ classics.
So, that's all … no photos, I forgot my camera at home, and the ones I got from my iphone are crap).
900 Place Jean-Paul Riopelle, Montreal, QC H2Z 2B2, CA