It was just a matter of time before Jean-Philippe Tastet had his say on the reborn Damas on Van Horne. Thus far, the comeback story has blown away Marie-Claude Lortie, and was called one of Montreal's best by Lesley Chesterman. The critic for Le Devoir concurs with his peers, clearly. Tastet's write-up of Damas today stands as one of his most complimentary of 2015.
Eater Awards Chef of the Year nominee Fuad Alnirabie sends out plate after plate of delectable Syrian food for the critic and his companions to sample. Muhammara, hummus, baba ghanoush, fattoush, and stuffed vine leaves set a festive tone. Two takes on fatteh, a layered, toasted pita dish, one with aubergine, lamb, pine nuts, and almonds, and a second with hummus, and yogurt, are duly devoured. The good times proceed with a kebab made with minced lamb and wishna, a small, sour black cherry, and lamb chops of "incroyable tendreté et si aériennes qu’on peut croire que ces agneaux avaient des ailes et planaient au-dessus des rives de l’Euphrate." Lamb chops have never been lavished with such lofty praise.
Sated as he is, Damas's desserts (kunafa, baklava) send Tastet into a hyperglycemic coma. It's a meal to remember. The critic concludes his rhapsodic assessment of the Outremont restaurant like this: "Je glissai dans les bras de Morphée lorsque j’eus fini de passer en revue le défilé des assiettes savourées chez Damas. Je crois que c’est une forme supérieure du bonheur." It's hard to imagine Damas getting any busier than it has since it reopened—this review could turn the trick.