One way to convince people you're no longer just a brunch restaurant? Win over the food critics, one local, seasonal dinner at a time. Since La Récolte introduced dinner in December 2014, on Thursdays and Fridays at first, but now on Wednesdays and Saturdays as well, there's been a groundswell of buzz around the Petite-Patrie restaurant.
Lately, especially. A year after chef Étienne Huot and partners Lyssa Barrera and Denis Vukmirovic started experimenting with night services, Thierry Daraize gave the restaurant four stars on five in Le Journal de Montréal. A week later, Le Devoir critic Jean-Philippe Tastet called La Récolte a "bonheur de petit restaurant." Toss in Ariane Krol's write-up on the restaurant's brunch last July and the Marché Jean-Talon adjacent spot is on a major roll. Consider most of the city's food writers won over. So what about the veteran critic for the Montreal Gazette?
Lesley Chesterman admits in her review of La Récolte this week that "It’s probably more fruitful, in a sense, to review such an establishment when produce is at its peak. And yet the real challenge of such a restaurant is how it holds up off-season." This kitchen holds up pretty well, as it turns out. A trout tartare is close to perfect, and an elaborate beef tartare offers "a great mix of crunchy and smooth textures, acidic, rich and earthy flavours." Another app, goat's cheese, poached pear, and red endive scores as well. A fine start for Huot and company.
Chesterman "would have left happy" from there, but the kitchen's mains are "equally delicious." There's spaghetti with tomato sauce, bacon and mussels; trout with leek, yellow carrots, beets, smoked seaweed, and a touch of cream sauce. "And then came a duck magret, presented in thick, crimson slices surrounded by potato gnocchi, roasted vegetables, black trumpet mushrooms and a soy and maple sauce. What a perfect example of a dish that falls somewhere between chic bistro and fancy restaurant cooking."
The tidy dessert menu at La Récolte features classics reinterpreted with slightly unusual ingredients. Think apple pie with sweet clover ice cream, and squash crumble with balsam poplar ice cream. Decent, Chesterman notes, but "in a meal with nary a technical fumble in sight" grousing about little flaws feels petty. La Récolte earns three stars on four from the critic on the strength of its precision, unpretentious vibe, and "creative and delicious" food at affordable prices. With four rave reviews in seven months, you're looking at a candidate for restaurant of the year.