The critic for the Montreal Gazette takes a look at a hot new downtown bistro, and a Westmount brasserie this week. It's a rare twofer from Lesley Chesterman, but something the critic has done more and more of since the newspaper bid casual food critic Sarah Musgrave adieu last winter.
Chefs Jean-Philippe Desjardins and Billy Galindo have drawn plaudits from other critics in the city for their bistro stylings at Albert, a relative newcomer on the periphery of downtown and the Quartier International. Chesterman agrees with the likes of Jean-Philippe Tastet and Thierry Daraize that the kitchen's beef tartare is exemplary: "just spicy enough, not too creamy, not too mushy, and served with a heap of matchstick potatoes, a tuft of greens, a couple of croutons and a dab of mayo. Very good." Slow-cooked trout with mashed potatoes, lobster, and lobster bisque is another winner ("what’s not to like?"). Overall, Chesterman is less taken with Albert than her peers though—"I liked Albert, but not as much as a few other critics who have showered it with praise."— but calls the food "good to very good." Two and a half stars on four.
On to Le Gladstone. Owner Yvon Creton is in tough in Westmount, where immediate neighbours include popular restaurants like Tavern on the Square, and Brasserie Lucilles. Alas, determines Chesterman, Le Gladstone is no competition. "Not only does the food lack spunk, but service is mediocre. And prices are sky high."
That, in a nutshell, is the theme at Creton's restaurant. The food is expensive, and largely unimaginative and dull. This line is memorable: “The bisque was as rich and bitter as Donald Trump.” Chesterman likes her burger, and desserts are, surprise!, above par. "But by then the damage had been done, not only because of the disappointing food up front, but also because of the weak wine list, and the kind-but-clueless waiter." Le Gladstone is lucky to escape with one and a half stars. "What a shame to see restaurants like this dragging [Westmount] back down again," concludes Chesterman. Yikes.