Four months after Le Mousso took Montreal by storm, Marie-Claude Lortie pays the Centre-Sud restaurant from Antonin Mousseau-Rivard a visit. Like his grandfather, painter Jean-Paul Mousseau, and his mother, actor Katerine Mousseau, Mousseau-Rivard is an artist, the La Presse critic exalts (dad is singer Michel Rivard). "Cette cuisine très proche de ce qui se fait actuellement dans le nord de l'Europe ne verse effectivement pas dans le trop cérébral, trop austère," Lortie declares. "On s'y régale."
The critic was first won over by Mousseau-Rivard's use of "produits sauvages et de techniques ancestrales" at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal's restaurant, Le Contemporain. At Le Mousso, the chef has taken that approach to another level with a seven-course dégustation menu. It begins beautifully for Lortie with plump scallops grilled, smoked over fir, and served on coals with wild plum butter. Wagyu tataki with baked cream, New Brunswick caviar, and peppery nasturtium renders "magnifiquement honneur aux produits, au climat d'ici."
At Le Mousso, squid, the only non-Quebec protein on the menu, is broken down, formed into a patty, grilled under the salamander, and enhanced with fermented garlic, pork cracklings, raw button mushrooms, and dashi. A decomposed borscht is a dud, but Lortie loves a crab salad with verbena and radish. "On en aurait pris deux." Ditto the kitchen's chicken, cooked sous-vide, and dehydrated carrots with duck, marigold flowers, and a sea buckthorn gel. Not only delicious, but magnificent to look at, writes Lortie.
To finish, a microwave-cooked blood and sponge cake served with shallot ice cream and late harvest apple vinegar pushes the critic's tolerance for experimental food. A dessert of pumpkin, honey, and canola oil is much more successful, however. Verdict: come to Le Mousso for "la créativité savamment savoureuse." Lortie will be back.