The headline is innocent enough, praiseful even: "Rabbit dish saves the day at Icône on The Main's restaurant row."
It unravels from there, in spectacular fashion, in Lesley Chesterman's grim review of the boulevard Saint-Laurent newcomer, which sports Charles-Emmanuel Pariseau (late of Leméac and Le Locale) as chef de cuisine. As the Gazette critic was quick to point out, however, Icône's flaws go way beyond the food.
The cringe-worthy lowlights:
Though kind, our waiter was such an amateur that I got the impression he was most likely a busboy subbing for a waiter that didn't show. The room was practically empty on the Tuesday night I visited.
The wine order also took forever.
Eventually the food showed up, four plates, none appealing. The waiter highly recommended the octopus salad. He shouldn't have bothered.
The next appetizer, a spaghetti squash tartlet, didn't so much drive as crash and burn.
And then there was the shrimp appetizer. (...) I still shudder at the memory of the mouthful on that one. Ugh.
(...) the fish was a disaster: served in bits and overcooked to such an extent that it was hard to differentiate it from the bean purée.
My patience was wearing thin and the odd desserts didn't help. There was a plate of brownie chunks served with balls of whipped cream and hay ice cream that tasted like a barn.
Besides the rabbit dish, the only other good thing about my $100-per-person meal at Icône was that I managed to nab a parking spot right across the street from the restaurant.
The zero star review is only the third in Chesterman's 15 year career. And, like her most recent pan of Société Bistro, stands in sharp contrast with some recent raves for Icône from the blogosphere.
In a coincidental move reminiscent of Société Bistro's blogger/media/PR brunch the Sunday after Chesterman's critical review several weeks ago, Icône threw a lavish party last night with many of Montreal's usual suspects in attendance.
The cringe-worthy highlights:
At the launch for the new Icône Restaurant. They charcuterie is next-level. Near corner St-Laurent and Sherbrooke. http://t.co/cuiXE6EbsS— The Main - MTL (@TheMain) October 10, 2013
Vino, palettes de bois et blogueurs :)))) bonheur!!!! pic.twitter.com/yORxxYmMEQ— Cerises&Gourmandises (@CetGourmandises) October 11, 2013
In yet another twist in this saga, BICOM Communications, the same public relations outfit that invited Chesterman to Société Bistro before and after her zero star review, organised Icône's shindig last night.
A BICOM spokesperson, who declined to be named, had this to say:
When Lesley Chesterman ate at Icône last week, the restaurant had not officially launched. The bathrooms were not ready. The menu was not ready. Yes, it has been open since June but some changes were made in anticipation of the opening party last night. The timing, once again [in reference to Société Bistro's review], is unfortunate. If she had been at the party yesterday I'm sure her reaction would have been very different!
When it was gently pointed out that a restaurant that has been open to the public for over four months should have every expectation of being reviewed at any time, the spokesperson conceded:
Yes, the restaurant should have been ready for her, regardless. It's just an unfortunate situation.
It should be noted that some bloggers and media types were also invited to dine at Icône this past June.
· Icône [Official Site]
· Fine Dining: Icône [Gazette]
· Montreal's Six Latest & Greatest Resto Openings (Icône) [Thrillist]
· Icône: un tout nouveau concept [Nightlife]