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Les Chèvres report

c212 | Jun 24, 2004 04:18 PM

I ate at Les Chèvres last Thursday for an early light dinner before heading out to the Oratoire St. Joseph to catch the sunset (which, thanks to the cloud-cover, was nonexistant that night).

My dining companion and I arrived via Metro (only a few blocks away from the Outremont stop, very convenient) around 6:15pm, sans reservation. No problem, only two tables were occupied in the open, modern, colorful front room and we were seated on the banquette. Service was friendly, bilingual, well-paced, and professional througout. Portions were justifiably small (you want to be forced to savor these delicate flavors), but it worked out well for us because we were not famished.

We were offered a cocktail to start of rhubarb puree and champagne, but instead ordered a bottle of Bergerac Sec, which they were out of. We substituted a Costières de Nimes (the least expensive white on the list, which turned out to be just fine).

We decided to share 3 appetizers and a main course.

To start, we were brought an amuse of apple-chive compote on a small piece of toast, along with a shotglass of flavorful carrot juice. Chives and fruit and fresh vegetable flavors would be featured in the rest of the meal, and this was a yummy precursor.

Next, we shared the salade "Pur et cru," which featured thinly sliced perfectly ripe white peaches and radishes with rocket greens, topped with a vinaigre de Banyuls dressing and some snips of chives. Exquisite and delicate, a very refreshing first course. The dressing only accentuated the peach flavors. This was on the tasting menu and later in the evening it appeared most of the other tables were ordering it. With good reason. A don't-miss dish.

For the next course, two appetizers were brought simultaneously. One was a salad of green apples and 2 pieces of delicious warm chèvre (crispy on the outside) and (i think) fennel, with curry oil, and an apple compote and thin green apple apple chips on the side. May have been chives as well. Again, absolutely delicious, the play between sweet and savory, clean and complex flavors, and different temperatures and textures worked perfectly. And the cheese, well, there's a reason the restaurant has the name it does. Delicious.

The other was a cold artichoke "soup" which was brought to the table as a bowl of sliced artichoke hearts, over which a tomato consommé (with other diced vegetables) was poured. This was not as good as I had hoped, as the artichokes played merely a supporting role. The consommé was flavorful but plain, and reminded me of a clear gazpacho (perhaps that's what they should call it on the menu!) The highlight of this dish was the accompaniment, a (truffled?) flatbread topped with a rich olive spread. I wanted more of that.

For the main course, we shared a mushroom dish, which consisted of a warm melange of chopped maitakes and cauliflower on top of an eggplant "caviar"-mint puree, with six potato "gnocci" and small pieces of broccoli rabe and a roasted garlic sauce on the side. Again, another winner. The maitake were tender but not overcooked, and the mix of flavors and options for different combinations on your fork made every bite interesting. The "gnocci" were delicious but were more like mini-potato blintzes than most gnocci I've had. Fried, great to dip in the garlic sauce. I wanted more of this, but as we were sharing the dish, that's to be expected.

Not having time for dessert, we decided on a cheese course. The cheese board had been prominently displayed nearby all evening, and was brought to us in order to choose. We chose 5, of which unfortunately I only remember 3: one aged chèvre, one hard sheeps-milk cheese, and one gruyere-type french cheese. All were tasty, but the chèvre and the sheeps-milk cheese won out. Accompaning the cheeses were delicious warmed raisin bread toasts along with regular white toasts. Spreading the chèvre on the raisin bread toast resulted in something like an exquisite raisin bread and cream cheese sandwich.

We had to run, so no dessert or coffee. The entire 2-hour meal cost only ~$140 CAN after tax and tip, quite a value for what we ate. Next time I make it to Montreal, I'll be sure to go back and try the tasting menu, and perhaps some of the meat dishes.

Link to their website (menus and photos) below.


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