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Steak-Dropping Hotel Restaurant Maggie Oakes Misfires For A Critic

And Thierry Daraize finds a solid prix-fixe brunch

Hotel William Gray, home to Maggie Oakes
Hotel William Gray

La Presse critic Marie-Claude Lortie is the first to visit the Antonopoulos Group’s latest, Maggie Oakes, which opened this summer as the restaurant accompaniment to the William Gray hotel with Top Chef alumni Derek Bocking in the kitchen. The review starts out like it’s going to be a take-down, as Lortie offers a laundry list of small faux-pas that add up: wine is poured without a taste (then it’s corked), odd menu items (gravlax, i.e., cured fish, listed as “pan-fried”), and a waiter dropping a piece of very expensive aged beef onto the table as he silver serves it, then observing the “15 second rule” and picking it up. There’s also asparagus-gate, where the accompanying “market vegetables” for one dish turns out to be not-at-all seasonal asparagus, and although the actual food was fine, Lortie squeezes a half-paragraph out of the issue. But then, it’s not a nightmare after all, it’s a cool space, writes Lortie, and some dishes are solid: smooth sweet potato soup, and the steak (of which one piece ended on the table) was just bloody enough. Lortie wasn’t terribly impressed, but admits it’s better than the other touristy options around. [La Presse]

Fixe Café Bistro

At Le Journal de Montréal, Thierry Daraize’s reviews might sometimes be a little too straightforward but he deserves props for checking out places which are either overlooked or don’t fit the fine dining portfolio, particularly since the Gazette killed its casual reviews section. This week it’s Fixe in Petite-Patrie, for its bargain four-service brunch. He finds the restaurant, simple, warm and “sans flafla”, and the meal a bit of a mixed bag, but overall positive. Lowlights are overdone eggs, and an flop attempt at French toast with baguette, but it’s evened out by a delicate and flavourful braised lamb, and the standout, a duck-egg dish with boudin. Three stars. [Le Journal de Montréal]

Leméac

Finally, for her last review of 2016, the Gazette’s Lesley Chesterman visits Outremont’s high-end French restaurant Leméac. It’s hardly her first visit there (for work or for pleasure) over its 15 years, but she justifies the return visit to the Richard Bastien and Émile Saine-owned restaurant on the grounds that it’s underrated. And although the restaurant has a pretty much unchanging menu, she declares it “better than ever”. Having tasted everything on the menu (a definite perk to reviewing a restaurant one frequents), Chesterman gives her top picks: a velvety fish soup, and vegetable tian with “buttery, melted cheddar” and zucchini ribbons amongst the appetizers, and a “generous” salmon pot-au-feu on the mains. It’s imperfect — a wild mushroom risotto has fungi that are closer to “supermarket” than wild, and ravioli is too thick, with a not-quite-refined-enough demi-glace sauce. But it’s three stars overall. [Montreal Gazette]

Le Fixe

5985 Rue Saint-Hubert, Montréal, QC H2S 2L8 (514) 270-6667

Leméac

1045 Avenue Laurier Ouest, Outremont, QC H2V 2L1 (514) 270-0999 Visit Website

Maggie Oakes

426 Place Jacques-Cartier, Ville-Marie, QC H2Y 3B3 (514) 656-6000 Visit Website

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