Montreal critics have been unanimously haunted by Le Fantôme. The Griffintown restaurant that took over unlikely digs last summer has now been reviewed by all four of the city's big newspapers, though it took La Presse a lot longer than Le Journal de Montréal, the Gazette, and Le Devoir. Better late than never, in this case. Ariane Krol, who shares the critic's desk with Marie-Claude Lortie, avows her fondness for Kabir Kapoor and chef Jason Morris's restaurant this week. Le Fantôme "propose une courte carte pleine de jolies surprises," Krol writes.
Morris's signature foie gras mousse, peanut butter, and jelly sandwich seduces the critic first. Initially skeptical, Krol falls for the dish that is equally "cochon et étonnamment raccord." There's more playful fun from the kitchen in the form of mini-grilled cheese bites, but Morris and company also evince a more profound, and elegant side. A superb twist on tuna tartare and frites rejigs a classic, and a duck magret, served perfectly rare, is complemented by "une abondance de champignons noirs et de minuscules dés de foie gras coiffés d'une pellicule de sucre caramélisé." The sole quibble is with a halibut and portobello dish, which feels too safe and predictable. Le Fantôme is best when the kitchen takes chances and dares to surprise, Krol asserts.
That is the case, happily, with two deceptively simple desserts: a Yasuka cheesecake veiled in foam, and a terrific variation on a chocolate babka, served with Labrador tea ice cream. "Une cuisine du marché inventive et riche en surprises," Krol concludes. The La Presse critic will definitely return to the Griffintown restaurant, with pleasure.