Marie-Claude Lortie concurs with her counterpart at Le Journal de Montréal this week: Chambre à Part is a solid restaurant. The ayes now have it as far as the new Plateau restaurant from La Fabrique is concerned; Jean-Philippe Tastet was not a fan, but with Thierry Daraize and Lortie's endorsements, Chambre à Part has won over two of Montreal's four food critics. Only Lesley Chesterman, of the Gazette, has yet to write up the Saint-Denis street spot.
To begin, Lortie commends Stéphanie Labelle, Chambre à Part's maître d'hôtel and sommelière, who also remade the former Witloof restaurant space. Compliments, too, for cocktails that accent "[des] mariages frais, sans fausses notes." As for Chambre à Part's menu, it departs from the small plate craze with a more traditional appetizer and main course format. Lortie starts off with raw scallops (pictured) and blood orange with coriander, turnip purée, endive, green almonds, and sorrel. The dish could use more acidity and spice, but "[l]es textures sont équilibrées et les saveurs bien agencées." Chef Jean-Baptiste Marchand's bison gravlax with single malt-coriander mayonnaise, tarragon, sunchoke purée, and rice chips was a hit with Daraize; Lortie agrees: "Compliqué, mais néanmoins plutôt heureux."
Next up: root vegetable ravioli stuffed with ricotta and Swiss chard, and garnished with a vegetable broth emulsion and sunflower seeds. Not much to look at, Lortie admits, but a "très bel effort créatif" nonetheless. A plate of sweetbreads is less innovative, but prepared with more elegance, and precision. Lortie, like Daraize, praises the restaurant's "juste assez sucrée, juste assez fine, juste assez réconfortante" lineup of desserts, particularly the oranges confit with thyme-lemon cream. Come to Chambre à Part for unironic nods to classic French gastronomy, concludes Lortie. "C'est comme si on sentait un pont créé avec des éléments de cuisine rustique d'ici et des courants à la mode ou de la rue." This is not a fashionable restaurant for scenesters, but a nice place for lovers of good wine, and good food. The critic will be back.