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Despite Formulaic Vibe, Critic Endorses Downtown Newcomer Jatoba

Hesitant and trendy but worth a look.

Skeptical about the lavish reboot of the former Phillips Lounge? No need, hints the critic of the Gazette. Jatoba, where chef Olivier Vigneault (formerly of Quebec City's Yuzu) executes an Antonio Park-curated menu, is "as good as it looks," writes Lesley Chesterman. "As for the food, plate presentations wowed before we even lifted a chopstick. The first dish to hit the table was the beef tataki. Paired with puffed quinoa, truffled baby peaches, enoki mushrooms and a sunomono sauce, the meat was lightly seared on the outside and raw on the inside, resulting in a series of melting mouthfuls."

The restaurant from Nicolas Urli (Ha, Flyjin), Marco Benatar (Flyjin), Alexandre Besnard and Patrick Hétu (A5 Management) falters in places — tuna tataki lacks pizzazz, shishito peppers are "good if a little dull" and shrimp dumplings "could have been more soigné." Jatoba's French take on duck fried rice erases the flubs, however, and proves to be a favourite. Chicken karaage and crispy tofu largely succeed as well. Verdict: "Sophomoric sweets aside, Jatoba feels like a very grown-up restaurant. (...) It all feels a bit trendy to me, a bit formulaic and a bit hesitant for now. Still, kudos to Jatoba: in the process of trying to check all the right boxes, it manages to feel refreshingly different." Two and a half stars on four.

Jatoba

1184 Place Phillips, Ville-Marie, QC H3B 3C8 (514) 871-1184 Visit Website

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