Chambre à Part, the relatively new Plateau restaurant from the owners of La Fabrique, finally earns a review this week, three months after it was unveiled on Saint-Denis, close to Square Saint-Louis. Unfortunately the word is not good from the food critic for Le Devoir. Jean-Philippe Tastet, so loath to criticise under normal circumstances, finds it particularly difficult to do so here: "On va dans un joli endroit, on connaît les propriétaires depuis longtemps et on aime bien leur travail, et puis, c’est pas terrible."
Not terrible, but not terribly promising either. Chambre à Part is done in by a number of factors, from overzealous service (dreaded cocktail upsells) to overwrought plates. "It was one of those nights when I regretted not having invited my friends over for dinner," Tastet writes.
The critic doesn't delve too deeply into what went wrong with Chambre à Part's food, but that's trademark Tastet. With this critic, it's the silences that speak volumes. It's an attempt at courtesy in a way; readers longing for something more, and mordant, will be disappointed. One glaring sin is the kitchen's penchant for excessive embellishment. When simplicity is called for, chef Jérôme Rouault, winner of season four of Les Chefs!, and late of Maison Boulud, seems keen to gussy up the party, whether its scallops with clementine, pink peppercorns, celeriac, capers, and dill, or a dish of beer-braised pork.
Not everything falls flat. There's some praise for a croque-monsieur with guanciale, as well as guinea hen, quail, and foie gras en croûte. Desserts, however, don't elicit so much as a mention. That's Tastet code for "don't bother." Still, the critic tries his best to conclude on an optimistic note, even if it feels like a backhanded compliment: "Il y a trop de potentiel à cette adresse pour que les irritants rencontrés lors de cette visite ne soient pas corrigés."