Thierry Daraize has eaten well this year. The Le Journal de Montréal restaurant critic, who grades on a five-star scale, has given four stars to Laloux, Le Fantôme, and, days before it closed, Les Trois Petits Bouchons. There have been stellar reviews for Lavanderia, Landry & Filles, and a very rare five-star rave for Val-David's La Table des Gourmets. Provisions, the freewheeling market cuisine restaurant that replaced bygone Outremont darling Le Van Horne in August, comes similarly close to perfection this week in a blockbuster four and a half star review.
Daraize is struck by the restaurant's authenticity: "Le repas qu’ils m’ont servi dernièrement m’a rendu heureux. Heureux surtout de constater que l’avenir est prometteur pour ceux qui osent et veulent se démarquer avec vérité." Seated at the long, kitchen-facing bar, the critic engages in some loose, easy banter with chefs Hakim Rahal, and Pablo Rojas. There's no conventional menu at Provisions; meals are built around ingredients, and diners are encouraged to order three, or five, dishes.
Daraize submits to the whims of the kitchen, and enjoys the likes of smoked sockeye; fig brûlée with endives, pistachios, and grape gelée; butternut squash, acorn squash purée, and pumpkin seeds ("Une réalisation en parfaite symbiose avec la saison"); and a perfect confit of wild salmon. Daraize declares a dish of Atlantic swordfish with Brussels sprouts, parsnips, arugula, and chanterelles one of the best of the year. A suprême of duck with confit duck thighs, Jerusalem artichokes, honey, hazelnuts, and smoked dates is described as magical. The only letdowns—and they're relatively minor—are an octopus dish, and the desserts. Daraize, in stark contrast to Gazette critic Lesley Chesterman, loves Provisions, unhesitatingly: "Une table formidable. Un de mes coups de cœur de l’année!"