With many award-winning restaurants, it is not a surprise that MTL à TABLE is an annual success in Montreal.Montreal’s Restaurant Week, which took place from Oct. 30 to Nov. 9, featured various tastes from some of the best restaurants in the city. Hosted by Tourism Montréal, MTL à TABLE invited both locals and tourists to discover new cuisines with affordable fixed-price menus ($19, $29, and $39) for a full three-course meal.
‘New cuisine’ is a food movement characterized by lighter dishes with an emphasis on presentation. Rooted in French cuisine—dating back to 1700s France—new cuisine has found a home in Quebec, with a number of restaurants boasting the label alongside high prices.
For restaurant week, Chez Victoire—located in the Plateau-Mile End neighbourhood—provided an affordable $29 three-course meal for those who might normally balk at the $14,000 wine menu. The meal led with two contrasting appetizers: A heartier beef tartar cut with a tart roquette cheese, and a lighter scallop dish featuring an airy broth, offset by crunchy cubes of root vegetables.
The entrees were a lesson in tenderness, with options for a braised pork dish or a fillet of trout. The braised pork was a dream of textures, the soft meat blending perfectly with a bed of mashed potatoes, and contrasted by the crunch of snap peas. The trout featured a dish of complementing flavours, with the milder fish combining with a creamy risotto and tart cherries to offer a stunningly complex dish. The meal ended with choices for a tart panna cotta—offered in a signature Montreal Mason jar—or a fruitier rice pudding dessert.
If the menu offered for MTL à TABLE is any indication of the overall quality of Chez Victoire, the high prices at the restaurant may well be justified.
Kyo Bar Japonais
A city as diverse as Montreal plays host to a platter of ethnic foods. Included amongst these is Japanese cuisine—which exists in colourful and flavourful profiles outside of the smattering of bland all-you-can-eat sushi restaurants dotting the city. Alongside its sister venues—Kyozon, Imadake, and Kazu among them—Kyo Bar Japonais is one of Montreal’s preeminent Japanese restaurants.
Kyo Bar’s restaurant week menu boasted a number of options that featured the versatility of Japanese cuisine. As an appetizer, the Nagoya-style chicken wings featured a mild yet distinctly Asian taste, while the steamed beef salad offered a safe—but disappointingly chewy—option. Kyo Bar’s real shining moment, however, came in the form of its entrees, with its panko-fried pork cooked perfectly over a bed of coleslaw and an Asian cucumber. The tender mirin-marinated chicken thigh included a smoky and grilled flavour profile to complement a dish of otherwise gentle flavours. Perfectly capping off the meal were the desserts: Yuzu donuts for a slightly sweet and tangy taste, contrasted with the black rice pudding—seasoned with roasted coconut and lemongrass—for those preferring a more light and airy finish.
Visit Kyo Bar for a satisfying lesson in authentic Japanese cuisine, with notes of Western-inspired flavours.
Osteria Venti is located in a historical building on Rue Saint-Paul Ouest. Chef Guiseppe Sacchetti serves up Italian cuisine with his own flair. The $39 MTL à TABLE menu was the equivalent to the price of some of the main courses on its regular menu. The restaurant did not disappoint, as the portions were generous for the high-quality dishes.
Options for the first course included braised veal, tuna, and a salad. The veal is a dish for the more adventurous eater, as it is veal tail served with polenta. The tuna offered a lighter option, poached in olive oil and accompanied by olives, celery, and onions, with parsley for garnish. The simple fennel and orange salad is a good choice for those who are not in the mood for a heavy protein.
The second course offered fettucine with mushroom and roasted duck ragu, poached trout and shrimp served in a fish broth and garnished with garlic roasted tomatoes, or osso bucco à la Milanese—veal shank braised in meat broth until tender. For dessert, the menu featured two appetizing choices—tiramisu, or semolina pudding flavoured with oranges.
Flyjin Restaurant is an Izakaya style Japanese restaurant located in Old Montreal. The atmosphere is reminiscent of an underground exclusive bar, as the entrance to the restaurant requires walking down eerie stairs into a modern space decorated by local artists. Not only is the contemporary space impressive, but co-chefs James Yoon and Narith Plong also cook up mouth-watering Japanese cuisine. MTL à TABLE allowed patrons to sample a variety of Japanese dishes accompanied by Asian-inspired cocktails for only $39.
The first course offered a choice between chicken or pork dumplings and Flyjin tropical salad. The tropical salad was a refreshing way to begin a meal, with a mixture of julienned green payaya, cabbages, carrots, red onions, and mango topped with tapioca and an acidic vinaigrette. On the other hand, the fried dumplings offered a nice textural contrast between the crisp shell and moist filling. Next, the main course featured options for a miso black cod or Korean-style braised short ribs. The fish and beef were perfectly cooked, as they flaked apart with the lightest touch of a fork. The cod was served with beet purée and taro chips to provide texture.
The restaurant featured Asian takes on traditional Canadian desserts, as evidenced by a Nanaimo bar with litchi sorbet, or maple cake with oba mango sauce. Stick around until 11 p.m. and a satisfying dinner can become an entertaining night, as the restaurant eventually transforms into a nightclub.
A French-Alsatian restaurant tucked within the cultural, meandering, and cobblestoned roads of Old Montreal, Le Bourlingueur is a delightful experience that offers a cozy, home-like experience with affordable, gourmet dishes with a home-cooked quality.
For MTL à TABLE, Le Bourlingueur’s chef Nicolas created a tempting three-course meal for the fixed price of $19. The appetizer included a soup of the day and rabbit terrine with prunes. The main course offered a bison stew with caramel sauce, poached salmon with cream sauce, and cumin lentils and quinoa. Finally, desserts included a maple and apple crumble, chocolate and caramel fondant, and a dessert of the day. Accompanying each dish was a recommendation for the wine choice to best accompany the meal.
While the soup of the day (carrot soup) was not exactly gourmet and was served in a small portion, it tasted homemade, which added to the ambiance of the restaurant. The bison stew was a wonderful surprise, with the tender Bison strewn upon a bed of tendered, caramelized cabbage and shallots and a strong hint of red wine infused among the delicious mixture of flavours. The popular dessert options—such as the apple crumble—were sold out by the end of the night, and the carrot cake was disappointing with its lack of flavour and cream cheese frosting. However, the meal was pleasant overall, with filling portions and strong flavours.
The MTL à TABLE menu for Le Bourlingueur also offered other options at additional costs, such as a French onion soup for the appetizer, a cheese manicotti for the main course, or an orange crème brulee for dessert.
Le Bourlinguer offers quality service, with friendly waiters and waitresses. For students especially, this is the perfect place to go for a break away from work to get quality food and ambiance with reasonable pricing. The setting of the restaurant is warm and charming. Le Bourlinguer has large windows looking out to the scenic view of Old Montreal, as well as beautiful stone-walls and a lightly dimmed atmosphere to provide a cozy evening experience.