Finally had that birthday dinner with friends and settled on Vivaldi restaurant in Pierrefonds (a big shout of thanks to fellow Chowhounder "morebubbles" who reminded me of them in this thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/804441).
I live literally a two minute walk from the place, but hadn't been there since they renovated and expanded several years ago. Though they are pretty much under my nose, I'd simply forgotten about them. Fortunately, however, a lot of folks haven't as they are doing gangbuster business, and for a good reason. Even the opening of a Casa Grecque two doors down from them hasn't appeared to have made a dent in their very brisk business.
First, their concept of an open air kitchen adds a wonderful theatrical element to dining. If you're a foodie, it's a treat to watch a battery of cooks, each at the top of their game, prepare a myriad of dishes for a bustling restaurant.
Run by brother chefs Steve and Dave, along with their father who is also a chef, everything is made to order. In a city with numerous established and up and coming chefs who are gaining international acclaim, these fellows take a back seat to no one and if they aren't on the radar of the local food scene, they really should be.
One friend had Veal Scallopini while the other had Sauteed Shrimps from the Table d'Hote menu. Both raved about how good they were.
For me, this was finally a chance to enjoy grilled octopus as a main course, instead of as an appetizer, to which most places seem to limit it. It was pure bliss. The plate consisted of a generous serving of meaty octopus legs. Juicy, melt in your mouth, with no hint of rubbery chewiness. They were delightfully charred on an open flame, lending them a tasty, crispy exterior and a soft interior. They were served sliced into bite-size portions and sprinkled with paper-thin slices of red onions and drizzled with an ever-so delicate vinaigrette and a garnish of capers. If I could, I would have licked the plate clean.
I had a choice of pasta, rice, or potatoes and vegetables as a side. I went with the pasta (linguini in a delicate home-made red sauce), which came served in a separate bowl. Again, just delightful.
Though packed and bustling, the wait staff managed to find the perfect balance of making sure clients weren't kept waiting or wanting, without ever going so far as to overdo it by constantly interrupting diners to ask if everything was ok.
The meal concluded with myself ordering a slice of their house-made chocolate cheesecake (decadent would be putting it mildy), while my two partners each had the regular home-made cheesecake drizzled with strawberry sauce and almonds, and a creme caramel.
Folks, if you live on the West Island, you really should make it a point to treat yourself by paying them a visit. If you live elsewhere, you should seriously consider making the trek. This is honestly one of Montreal's true hidden jewels.