Visited Le Flambard (851 Rachel Est @ Saint-Christophe) for the second time last night after having bought a Ilovemtl coupon. The first time we went, I was really not too sure if I liked it or not. The supper left me feeling very heavy and stuffed but I couldn't tell whether to blame the kitchen or my poor choices of dishes. I had the menu fixe. The soup was good, but I felt like I had had enough food after the appetized. I had the mushroom app, which arrived in a cream sauce and a puff pastry. Very, very filling. Then I had the tartare de filet mignon, which was ok. No complains except that I wasn't really hungry for it at that point. My partner had the filet mignon, which was good if only slightly overcooked. The filet mignon was a nice size (big, not like the morcel they serve at l'Académie).
Last night, I kept that in mind and went light. We put the menu fixe aside, since we felt it was way too much food last time, and went à la carte. We shared the célerie rémoulade, which I expected would be fresh and light. It was actually surprisingly heavy, the celerie bathing in a thick mayo. It was surprisingly flat and unidimensional too. We made an effort to finish it.
Then I had the Salade aux lardons as an appetizer. Boring as all hell. I was in a good mood, so I didn't fuss too much over it. But on a different day, I might not have touched it. Some people might have been impressed or suprised to find shaved carrots in a salad thirty years ago, but I think the consensus is that you need a little bit more than lettuce and carrots to constitute an appetizer salad, even if you sprinkle it with overdone bacon bits.
For the main, I had the scallops. This was my evening's major disapointment. The scallops were quite big (at $24 a plate, I think that's a given) but they did not have a sear (even I can do that) and they must have forgot to season them, because they were extremely bland. They were covered with an apple cider foam which was also quite sweet. Given the scallops' natural sweetness, the two tastes did not balance well at all. I did add table salt, but it somehow isn't the same. The side dishes served with the meals that night baffled me. I am by no means very good in the kitchen, but it would never occur to me to serve scallops with mac&cheese and zucchini sautéd in pesto. The whole thing was very....postmodern.
My partner's escargot were ok but very rustic, swimming in a goat cheese sauce. His bavette was probably the best item to find its way on our table (besides our wine, the place is byow). It was tender, not too chewy, but the ticker part went from saignant to just plain blue.
Service is good (but probably too relaxed for those in a hurry - towards the end of the evening, the server literally disappeared leaving everyone waiting to pay their bill), and the restaurant has a very pleasant feel to it. But this second experience confirmed that there are serious problems in the kitchen. Everything straddles a fine line between just ok and amateur. The total bill for two without drinks or desserts came to $73. I'd rather spend that money at L'Express.
3927 Rue Saint-Denis, Montreal, QC H2W2M4, CA