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MKT Falls Flat for Critic Lesley Chesterman

Given the chef's pedigree, this restaurant needs to be a lot better.

Inside MKT
Inside MKT

The first Montreal food critic to give MKT a look is Lesley Chesterman for the Gazette this week. Chesterman has always been a supporter of chef Marino Tavares ever since his long tenure at Café Ferreira. Tavares is now mired in a court dispute with Carlos Ferreira and has since decamped for MKT. The remade Osteria Enoteca Vinizza, from the same Avicor Construction business partners, Rodi Callegari, Frank Varano and Aldo Vicenzo, is ostensibly Mediterranean now but "feels more Italian than anything."

Besides the snazzy décor and cool retro tunes, the food at MKT lacks focus, writes Chesterman. "Mediterranean is a huge category of cooking and I expect a more personal signature from a chef like Tavares. Frankly, anyone can pull together a plate of tomatoes, prosciutto and mozzarella or shrimp linguini. I would of liked to have seen more innovation, more style and more confidence on this menu." The critic waits to be wowed but there are more misses than hits from Tavares' kitchen. Of the dishes sampled, only two, homemade pappardelle, sausage, goat’s cheese and spinach, and a Portuguese-style grilled chicken breast, arouse much in the way of praise. But even the chicken, while "gorgeous" and the "dish of the night", has problems. "[F]or $28, I expect more in the way of vegetable accompaniments than a few carrots, asparagus spears and a quenelle of clumpy mashed potatoes." Desserts don't save the meal, unfortunately.

The good news is that Tavares "knows there’s room for improvement." So there's hope for MKT yet. "Tavares is a good chef, a solid pro. If anyone can sharpen the soft edges here, he can." Two stars on four.

MKT Restaurant

2044, rue Metcalfe, Montreal, QC H3A 1X8 (514) 849-2044 Visit Website