With positive reviews this year from Lesley Chesterman, Thierry Daraize, Gildas Meneu and Jean-Philippe Tastet, Les Coudes sur la Table was a unanimous critical darling. Well, almost.
Marie-Claude Lortie is not quite as sold on the bistro in the Village. Like at all.
Some notable, translated excerpts:
"Upon our arrival, the place is almost empty. There are three other tables with customers but they rapidly get up and leave us alone. The space, with high ceilings and nostalgic bistro décor with dark wood furniture, is melancholy. One wonders just why we are here. The other guests that I convinced to join me also ask me the question: why are we here?"
An empty room can be compensated for with quality food. But the meal gets off to a rocky start:
"First comes a salad starter made with very fresh greens, slightly caramelized pecans, pears, disappearing, unfortunately, under a heavy vinaigrette both highly acidic and very sweet with maple syrup."
"House-smoked mackerel, meanwhile, alongside potatoes and beets in a glass bowl, is elegant, a little Nordic and manages textures well. Amazing? No. Well. No surprise."
It's not all bad. The service and wine list get respectable grades. A squash soup "warms the soul and stomach." Deslandes' gnocchi is "satisfying." Swordfish is "cooked to perfection, elegant and tasty."
But then come the desserts:
"For dessert, more disappointment. The date cake is spongy but lacks whimsy, even if it is served with house-made Baileys and salted butter caramel ice cream. We're accustomed to better elsewhere."
Lortie's final verdict on Les Coudes sur la Table?
"Apparently, the fact that the room was empty was no accident or misfortune."
When asked to comment on the review in La Presse, Deslandes said: "I'm very disappointed. I don't understand."