Montreal and toronto, june 2019

i just spent a week in montreal and toronto. a lot of good meals eaten and i’ve just begun to write them up on the blog (not in order).

up first, the first dinner of the trip at l’express, the classic montreal bistro. was at a table of five and we shared everything. everyone loved the meal. highlights included an octopus and lentil salad, their famous veal kidneys in mustard sauce, their boudin noir, a special of braised rabbit with olives etc. and an excellent rhum baba. some excellent wine at good prices too. the full write-up is on the blog.

next up, dinner a few days later at canis in toronto. at the opposite end of the fine dining spectrum from l’express. modernist food in what i call the global cosmopolitan school. they do a tasting menu only and the food is almost as beautiful to look at as it is tasty. highlights include almost everything, though i will give the crown to a pre-dessert of cucumber and kombucha sorbet. full write-up on the blog.

Wow, the kitchen’s open until 2:00 am.

In which I eat Haitian food in Montreal with the Arcade Fire. Okay, so I just ate Haitian food in Montreal in a restaurant owned by Win Butler and Regine Chassagne. It’s a hip spot–the interior dining room serves more traditional, hearty Haitian dishes; there’s also an outdoor patio which, it turned out, has a completely separate menu (i.e you can’t get the dishes from indoors there). We were a large group and were seated outdoors. A bit of a bummer to not be able to get the braised oxtails etc. The outdoor menu is small plates focused on grilled and smoked meats and fish. We got a platter each of those plus some other things. It was all good but I would say this is not a must-visit place for occasional visitors to Montreal. But if I lived there I’d go every once in a while.

Oh yes, the patio has a separate bar with separate drinks (all rum based, I think). The cocktails were very good, especially mine which included scotch bonnet syrup.

Full review with pics on the blog.

i posted a link here to my blog review of agrikol in montreal. i just received an automated admin message saying multiple community members have flagged it as spam. did i miss where it’s against the rules to post links to blogs? also, i’m not sure why the two posts above were fine but the one re agrikol was found to be objectionable.

Thanks for sharing, I’m hoping to go in September and definitely needed some ideas outside of Joe Beef.

I don’t know why that one post was singled out as spam. Maybe because you didn’t say as much about the place?

Went to L’Express Thursday night. What a great place. Classic food, great wine list, as unstuffy as can be, very reasonable prices, kitchen open until 2am. Absurdly appealing menu: I could have picked any four or five dishes at random and been happy. To convert CDN to USD, knock off 25% and round up.

Lovely cool Morgon ($62), goes with everything.

Every table gets a big jar of cornichons and a pot of mustard.

Warm beet salad ($11.75). Hit the spot, I wanted a little veg before getting into the offal. Damn, some of these photos looked a lot better on my phone.

My dining companion’s lobster bisque ($13.45). Best I’ve ever had. Deep, dark, funky essence of lobster with some sweet chunks of meat mixed in.

Torchon of foie gras ($24.75). Perfect. My one minor quibble about the meal, the brioche could have been crisper. A glass of late-harvest Gaillac was a fine pairing.

My dining companion’s chicken with morels ($26.55). Every element was perfect.

Boudin noir ($23.50). Fantastic. Thank god for air conditioning. About this time there was a thunderstorm going on outside.

I’d been planning to get the kidney or liver but my appetite was flagging, so I went for the grilled sea bass on ratatouille ($29.50). Perfect. Got a great natty Jura white ($96).

Baba au rhum ($10.25). Perfect.

“Ile flottante au caramel” ($10.65): a little puddle of creme anglaise topped and a big, fluffy meringue topped with a crunchy caramel shell and surrounded by almond-caramel thingies.

Finished with a shot of Okanagan vielle prune ($12). By the time we walked out the thunderstorm had passed and it had cooled off a bit.

Really great place. It’s hard to beat perfection.

Went to Mon Lapin Wednesday night maybe around 10:00? It was still almost full but there was one two-top so we didn’t have to wait.

foie parfait with radishes and crunchy puffed buckwheat, ham with cheese and a delicate tomato sauce, brioche with turnip-greens butter

Almost forgot to get a photo of the asparagus with sorrel leaves and elder flowers.


acacia blossom beignets with rhubarb sauce

Great meal, everything was delicious, great service. Looking forward to going back on my next visit.

glad you liked it. i see you got a lot of the dishes we did.

That might explain it. Anyway, I’ve added more detail. Hopefully this will satisfy the unseen censors.

Funny coincidence to read this a week later:

… McMillan and Morin retained their passion for traditional French food. After shifts at the Globe, they ate at L’Express, one of Montreal’s few remaining old-school bistros, where the ceilings are painted yellow to match stains from the cigarette smoke that once filled the dining room, and each meal begins with a server delivering to the table a jar of cornichons and a pot of mustard. McMillan and Morin still consider it a perfect restaurant.

l’express is an iconic montreal restaurant. it has successfully resisted all trends for almost four decades. there were reports of a temporary downturn a few years ago, but any issues have clearly been fixed.

there’s a chance i might go back to montreal again in october (this time with the missus). we’ll probably hit l’express for lunch, if so.