Can a bistro that caters to the power lunch set between downtown and the Quartier International possibly contend for Montreal's new restaurant of the year title? It's a stretch, especially with such strong competition thus far in 2015, but, regardless, there's a case to be made for Albert Bistro.
In the past month alone, chefs Jean-Philippe Desjardins and Billy Galindo have garnered raves from critics Jean-Philippe Tastet and Thierry Daraize. Tastet's Le Devoir review came at the end of August, Daraize's just yesterday. The Le Journal de Montréal critic, as per usual, is stingy with details—we have no idea, for example, what Daraize ate for dessert at Albert, only that there were two, and they were "savoureux." The takeaway is what's important mind you, and Daraize concurs, for the most part, with Tastet. Albert hums at lunchtime, is predictably more relaxed for dinner service, and offers a smart, tidy, and well-priced menu. Tastet crowned the kitchen's beef tartare one of the best in Montreal—Daraize agrees: "Tartare de bœuf vraiment formidable, un des meilleurs mangés depuis longtemps." Albert's solid burger, a trout dip with fennel and orange, and a salad with mozzarella di Bufala, and garbanzo purée, also star.
Some plates need work. Escargots with Parmesan and brioche, for example, is the "préparation la moins convaincante de la soirée." The tartare also comes with some tired and faded watercress shoots. Dommage. The undisclosed desserts redeem the kitchen, however, and the service is top-drawer. Daraize's final verdict? Three stars on five, and this: "Une belle adresse gourmande et conviviale."