Cul-Sec, cave et cantine, a Little Italy buvette and wine shop (where food purchases are compulsory, by law), gets a nod, finally, from Le Journal de Montréal this week. The complement to the stalwart Pastaga from chef Martin Juneau, Louis-Philippe Breton, and other partners opened last May, and has since garnered good reviews from both Lesley Chesterman and Marie-Claude Lortie.
Journal critic Thierry Daraize is more or less in agreement with his counterparts at the Gazette and La Presse. Cul-Sec is “un bel endroit pour découvrir des vins nature, biologiques et d’importations privées,” Daraize begins. “Où l’on peut aussi manger de très bonne façon.” The restaurant is “convivial” and “sympathique”, with sensible prices for both food and wine. Successful starters range from house ricotta, grilled rapini, and pesto, to a perfect plate of octopus, caponata, and gremolata. A burger with kimchi convinces Daraize that kimchi can, in fact, be tasty. “En plus, moi qui n’aime pas vraiment le kimchi, je dois dire que celui-ci était bien savoureux. Épicé, oui, mais pas intolérable.” Korean restaurants of Montreal take note.
Other winners from Cul-Sec's kitchen include trout in broth with chou frisé, kale, and Brussels sprouts, and two desserts: a crème brulée and apricot tart. There is one dud, however. A mushroom risotto lacks the proper texture, asserts Daraize. That aside, Cul-Sec earns praise on all fronts. The Little Italy spot is an ideal place to discover good wines and good food, in a relaxed atmosphere, the critic concludes.