On an ordinary Friday night, in an east end neighbourhood that so often struggles to rise out of the ordinary, it's unrealistic, perhaps, to expect the extraordinary. And yet, at État-Major, the bring-your-own-wine restaurant from Dominic Laflamme and Vincent Chatelais, there's definitely something out of the ordinary in the air. So begins Jean-Philippe Tastet's review today in Le Devoir.
The HoMa bistro makes a nice impression with its unpretentious, wall-mounted menu, and its solicitous service. Too many restaurants take patrons for illiterate morons by reading the menu verbatim, writes Tastet. That doesn't happen at État-Major. Unfortunately, the first dish the critic samples, a cream soup "de plusieurs choses insignifiantes," is completely forgettable. A salad composed of thinly sliced radishes, judiciously dressed, fares much better, as do starters of salmon and beef, "légèrement citronné, souligné d’érable et d’échalote."
On to the mains. A Gaspor pork chop with eggplant purée, Brussels sprouts, carrots, red wine jus, and caramelized onion sour cream earns a modest "bien faite" from Tastet. Gaspésie char is served with accompaniments — samphire, tzatziki, marinated cauliflower salad, onion crisps — that demonstrate the chef's savvy. A filet of veal, served with hummus, minted bulgur, lemon zest confit, chives, scallions, and more of those thin radish slices, is perfectly cooked. The kitchen then sends out a take on surf and turf (Tastet was made by État-Major's owner when he walked in); the plate consists of fresh pasta in chicken broth, and a Cornish hen ballottine with grilled shrimp. Tastet's not one to comment on complimentary dishes on principle, but "celui-ci était si savoureux que ce serait péché de ne pas vous le signaler."
Desserts are quite decent at État-Major. Not revolutionary, but Tastet musters no complaints about a warm doughnut with vanilla ice cream and salted caramel, and a lemon semifreddo with spicy speculoos crumble and clementine segments in syrup. This is a good restaurant, the critic concludes. "Tous les gens qui travaillent ici semblent en effet heureux de ce qu’ils font." More proof that État-Major is one of Montreal's essential BYOBs.