With Sarah Musgrave no longer at the Gazette, the newspaper's approach to restaurant reviews has slightly shifted. Lesley Chesterman has taken on more casual assignments of late and this week tackles two new cocktail, small plate-driven establishments. First Le C, the tapas and cocktail mashup in the Usine C performance space from chef Luis León and veteran barman Romain Cavalier. The critic describes the food as "uneven" but deems the service "excellent." Chesterman would return "if there was a show playing upstairs, repeat the shrimp and bavette and try a few more cocktails. There's an interesting little, getting-away-from-it-all vibe here, which along with the background flamenco tunes, makes it all quite seductive." Verdict: one and a half stars on four.
On to Mimi la Nuit, the new Old Montreal wine bar from Jeff Stinco, Edward Zaki and architect Michel Lemieux. Chesterman exalted Éloi Dion when he was chef at Van Horne back in the day and while short, finds his Mimi menu "tremendously appealing." The critic enjoys most of it, "beginning with my favourite, grilled romaine lettuce with asparagus. Served with a creamy dressing enhanced with dehydrated grapefruit, the dish was delicious and different. Good stuff. Then there were the deep-fried shrimp served on wooden skewers — what a treat: sweet, dry, crisp, and not to be missed." There are some notable sputters here and there — "The accompanying eggplant salad served alongside was forgettable, and as for that brown smear (eggplant purée?) on the plate, not appealing! — but the wine and cocktail lists are solid and Mimi's bar has a certain allure. Verdict: two and a half stars on four.