Accords wine bar, from the star trio of Tout le monde en parle host Guy A. Lepage, Chantal Fontaine, and Jean-Pierre Des Rosiers, wins over the critic for the Montreal Gazette this week. With chef Simon Mathys and sommelier Gabriel Gallant at the helm, the Old Montreal spot is a force, reckons Lesley Chesterman. Significantly, Mathys was drafted to manage the kitchens at both Accords Bar à Vin, and Accords downtown weeks after Chesterman gave the Quartier des Spectacles restaurant a lone star. "[N]othing could save this meal," the critic wrote last February.
Mathys was a savvy hire by Lepage and company, then. This, the palpable gist of Chesterman's food flattery, which starts with "a surprisingly complex dish" of carrots (roasted, pickled, raw, puréed), cheese curds, and parsley. Surprises linger with calamari, goat's cheese, grilled romaine, kale coulis ("As awful as that might sound, it was terrific"), and a whimsical surf 'n' turf of yellowfin tuna and squash. Gallant, too, is singled out by the critic for his inspired wine choices. "[A] skilled sommelier at the 'accords mets et vins' game, never let us down, selecting wines — reds, whites, a rosé and a dessert wine — from all sorts of varietals and origins. How great to savour a magnificent dish like the delicate trout filet enhanced with swirls of puréed watercress and razor clam cream paired with a Henri Germain 2012 Meursault."
There are some misses from the kitchen—a beef tartare lacks oomph—but roast lamb with turnip, pickled onions, and a mustard cream sauce elicits a “[b]ig thumbs up.” Chesterman ultimately awards three stars on four to Accords bar à vin on the backs of Mathys and Gallant. Impressive, but the critic has some concerns about the restaurant. Desserts are a touch simple, and the room and music needs a rethink. “Despite the big names attached to this restaurant and the talented kitchen and floor crew, what Accords lacks most is a strong sense of identity.”