Jean-Philippe Tastet last wrote up L'Express, Montreal's landmark bistro, after the untimely death of co-owner Colette Brossoit, and the retirement of veteran chef Joël Chapoulie. The Devoir critic , reassured that all was well on rue Saint-Denis; so much so that his previous review from January 2000, entitled "Le grand spectacle de L’Express", still stood. This week Tastet provides a similar service with another appraisal of the essential Montreal restaurant, prompted by the arrival of chef Jean-François Vachon, late of Thursday's, to the kitchen.
"Y a-t-il eu des changements majeurs à la carte, au menu, au décor le justifiant ?," Tastet wonders, rhetorically. No, of course not. But long live stability, the critic declares, and confides that two other, perhaps premature, reviews of newer, "hotter" restaurants were shelved to make room for another L'Express take, his fourth overall. The restaurant's charm resides in a seamless sense of consistency and dependability — Vachon just took over the kitchen less than two weeks ago, but classics like poireaux vinaigrette, house rillettes, tarragon foie de veau, onglet frites, and île flottante deliver, per usual. With local legend Claude Masson behind the bar, the superb wine list untarnished, and the room as dynamic as ever, Tastet feels at home. "Cette année, la maison sera ouverte 365 jours. Profitez-en," the critic concludes.