Le Journal de Montréal critic Thierry Daraize is full of positive and perky analogies for Saint-Henri wine bar Chez Lavigne, likening it to a pearl in an oyster, and various iterations of “[shiny object] in [unexpected location]”. It’s Lavigne’s first review since they adjusted their menu following a so-so review of the food from La Presse’s Marie-Claude Lortie, and the menu shuffle seems to have paid off. Daraize has no negative remarks on the food front, dubbing a pork loin with confit clementine and roast vegetables to be the star of his evening, with perfectly-cooked melt-in-Daraize’s-mouth pork. Mackerel with a sake marinade and a warm autumn salad are other high points. For a restaurant with a focus on forward-thinking selections of “living wines”, Daraize doesn’t have a whole lot to say about it, even if Lavigne’s wines get his stamp of approval. Four stars. [Le Journal de Montréal]
Meanwhile at the Gazette, Lesley Chesterman visits September newcomer, Laurier Avenue pizzeria Stella, already well-reviewed at least once. In a very Chestermanian digression at the top of the review, Chesterman points out that pizzerias are a very real trend right now, seeming to be both praising proponents of that trend for giving the people what they want, but with a dash of skepticism for the populism apparently inherent in opening a pizzeria. Anyway, Stella does right by Chesterman and leaves her “wishing that it was in [her] own backyard”. The service is excellent, and a tuna salad with apple, red onion, and more stands out. On the pizza side, Stella, despite its obvious focus, doesn’t quite deliver a knockout. The Laurier pizza, with “canned artichokes and soggy spinach” is a letdown, although the three others sampled rate as enjoyable or better. For dessert, a passable tiramisu could benefit from a hefty injection of marsala. On the whole though, it’s a good bet, nabbing two-and-a-half stars. [Montreal Gazette]
It’s a slim week for local reviews — La Presse has nothing on its restaurant section at the usual Friday publishing time, and over at Le Devoir, Quebec City Italian spot Sapristi goes under Catherine Ferland’s microscope. The quality is good, she writes, particular in terms of the ingredients used, but overly salty dishes would benefit from a little more finesse.
- Chez Lavigne: De la vigne à la table [Le Journal de Montréal]
- Arcade Fire Resto Agrikol to Expand, and More Intel [EMTL]
- Reviewer Skeptical of W Hotel’s Arty-Resto Project [EMTL]
- Stella Pizzeria is the hot new slice in town [Montreal Gazette]
- Manger simplement, à deux pas de la porte Saint-Jean à Québec [Le Devoir]