The new wine bar from Toi Moi & Café's Aspid and Sevan Istanboulian gets a second critical take this week as Lesley Chesterman pays a visit. Marie-Claude Lortie raved over chef Stelio Perombelon's food at the Mile End spot three weeks ago. In a city with so many new, hip wine bars (think Larrys, Loïc, Chez Lavigne), M.Mme is the most ambitious, declares the Montreal Gazette critic. Translation: the Istanboulians spared no expense in the build, from the slick design by Dimarco Ferro, to the enormous cellar which will eventually number 750 bottles. M.Mme also employs some ten sommeliers. Impressive, observes Chesterman. Audacious too.
Diners can opt for a casual bar menu at M.Mme, or go the more lavish, multi-course, small-plate-driven route. Chesterman decides to do just that, and orders nine out of ten dishes available. It takes an hour for the first course to arrive, post squash croquette amuse, but "[w]hen the plates hit the table, my eyes lit up. Beautiful!" Perombelon's plates are "gastronomic-restaurant fancy" — winners include Quebec buffalo mozzarella with tomato jam, hamachi crudo with radish and curry oil, steelhead trout and carrots, and a luscious grilled suckling pig belly with sesame paste, white carrots, mustard grains, cipollinis, and ham.
There are some missteps from the kitchen. Temperature problems mar three plates, which come out either too cold or unpleasantly lukewarm. Crêpes layered with foie gras and puréed sunchokes is a dish that works in theory, "yet it was bland." Happily, desserts score, from candy-cap mushroom profiteroles, to pear mille feuilles, to a "perfect" cheese plate.
Chesterman comes away impressed by the stylish M.Mme, with an important caveat. It may be a wine bar in name, but it's also an expensive restaurant, where wines by the glass add up. "I’m all for a bit of discovery, but I would also like to know how much I’m paying for each glass before it’s poured," the critic concludes. Two and a half stars on four.