It was kind, but perhaps remiss, of Jean-Philippe Tastet not to reference the owners of Brasserie Bernard, the famed Holder brothers, in his review today. Le Devoir does not rate restaurants on a scale or star system, which is a mercy for the Outremont restaurant. To put it mildly, the prominent critic was flat out annoyed by his experience at Brasserie Bernard. His review is Tastet at his catty best.
To the kitchen's credit, some of the plates sampled by Tastet satisfy—more than satisfy, to be honest. But the entire write-up is tinged with sarcasm, borderline derision, and mild indignation. It starts with the service, and an affront to the adage "the customer is always right." Simply put, when Tastet's companion requests half salad, half frites with her tartare, she is refused. A bowl of (ordinary) frites emerges for an extra $5.50. Upsell alert. Tastet's displeasure spikes when he asks for the calf's liver sans caramelized onions and is rebuffed. It's a bad start for Brasserie Bernard, despite the server's civility. Tastet has the urge to depart the restaurant entirely, in fact, but decides to stick it out. "J’ai plutôt tendance à croire qu’un restaurant doit s’accommoder à ses clients et non l’inverse."
The critic is amused when the server feels the need to specify that the oysters are fresh. "[C]’est rassurant," writes the sardonic Tastet. There's a problem with seasonality too, it seems, at Brasserie Bernard. Sides like parsnips, beets, and apples don't suit terrasse weather. En plus, the summer dishes on offer, a duo of cold soups, don't elicit any enthusiasm. In what strikes Tastet as a risky move, someone ventures to order the mussels and, gladly, lives to tell about it the next day. The good news is that the critic's potato salad with smoked herring and pesto mayo is "très suffisantes et préparé avec goût," and the infamous calf's liver "rosé à point." But, alas, Paris mushrooms with potato purée and caramelized onions proves largely unpalatable and is sent back. Come dessert time, the item that impresses most is a sorbet trio—courtesy Les Givrés.
Tastet concludes the review with this barbed remark. "J’avais le matin même croisé au marché Jean-Talon des hordes de fruits de saison. Je rêve du jour où l’on en croisera également sur les cartes des restaurants. La belle saison est si courte chez nous." Take note, Brasserie Bernard.