The latest by Lesley Chesterman proves the rule that ostentatious, bottle service-driven supper clubs and food critics make strange bedfellows. Harlow, the relatively new venture from Time Supper Club principals in touristy Place Jacques-Cartier, draws the gaze of the Gazette this week and the verdict is not good, to put it kindly.
It starts with a server's strange assessment that Moët & Chandon "has less chemicals than Veuve Clicquot" and rapidly descends from there. In fairness, Chesterman likes a few items on the menu—salmon tartare and scallop ceviche are okay, and a "delicious" veal chop a highlight—but the criticisms resonate most. Harlow's menu is "as predictable as a playlist at a sweet 16 party." And then there's this barb. "Last time I saw a menu this uninspired was at a golf club, though the golf club menu didn’t have as many typos." Wine, moreover, is "priced for profit."
Harlow's downfall, however, is that its food lacks creativity and personality and, worse, is expensive. The kitchen plays it safe and overlooks the advantages of the season. To wit, "why, in the heart of Quebec vegetable season, this kitchen’s opting for root vegetables? Was nothing green available?" Come dessert time, a caramelized banana with ice cream offers more of the same. "Again, it’s August, how about desserts made with some of our great mid-summer fruit? Banana… really?"
As Chesterman wraps up her pan of Harlow, you get the sense that the restaurant was lucky not only to escape with a lone star (on four). Downcast, the critic slumps in her chair and takes a final look around. "How sad, I thought, to think this glitzy-on-the-outside-but-drab-on-the-plate restaurant might end up being the impression tourists walk away with of our city’s renowned food scene." At least one notable tourist, in the person of Kylie Jenner, tried Harlow out as part of her <a href="http://montreal.eater.com/2015/8/17/9164401/kylie-jenner-kardashian-18th-birthday-montreal">paid 18th birthday bash in Montreal</a>.