— Some new restaurants practically secure reviews the minute the pilot light comes on; others have to wait it out a bit longer. Three and a half months after chef Aaron Langille (Le Filet, Club Chasse et Pêche, Sardine, Orange Rouge) opened Le Diplomate, the Mile-Ex restaurant gets a look from a critic this week. Marie-Claude Lortie calls Le Diplomate a "well-kept secret" located "in a little-known neighbourhood." At the helm of his own restaurant "Langille est revenu à ce qu'il fait bien (...), c'est-à-dire une cuisine déjantée plutôt du Nord, mais qui refuse de suivre des codes et références culturelles et qui réussit néanmoins le tour de force de rester savoureuse et surtout de ne pas tomber dans le n'importe quoi." That praise is earned on the strength of plates like clams with fresh oregano, Brussels sprouts with lemon crème fraîche and chorizo, and duck magret with peanuts, celery, and rye. Lortie leaves Le Diplomate smiling, and vows to return "pour un repas au bar, pas cher, pas compliqué."
— Just in time for Grand Prix madness, Lesley Chesterman revisits downtown Montreal's Maison Boulud. The Ritz-Carlton hotel restaurant almost executes a perfect four-star review, but the Gazette critic shaves a half star off. The kitchen, led by chef Riccardo Bertolino, is not to blame. "My meal at Maison Boulud was not only delicious, but a technical tour de force. We are close to perfection here, which makes my quibbles with the service a tad disappointing." The lapses are minor, however. This is one of Chesterman's best reviews of the year.
— Two South Shore, Montérégie restaurants get looks from the critics this week. The first, Boucherville's Le Bec à Vin, elicits a hohum write-up from Thierry Daraize. The Le Journal de Montréal critic is generous to a fault with his praise, but it's clear all is not well at the wine bar concept. The wine list, and service, namely: "Tout est à revoir!" The food, too, needs "beaucoup de petites choses à mettre au point." Based on Daraize's experience it's a wonder Le Bec à Vin managed to coax three stars on five from the critic.
— At Saint-Marc-sur-Richelieu's L'Artiste, Jean-Philippe Tastet has a better time. The Richelieu river restaurant, part of Hôtel Trois Tilleuls, features chef Jean-Philippe Saint-Denis (late of Montreal's Kitchen Galerie) in the kitchen. A meal here is worth the commute from the city, reassures the Le Devoir critic, who would otherwise blanch at the 100 km round trip drive. The cuisine may not be revolutionary, but L'Artiste "propose un choix suffisamment varié pour assouvir votre faim, et les choses y sont bien faites." The verdict: three and a half stars on five, which puts L'Artiste somewhere between a bonne addresse and a très bonne adresse, in Tastet's esteem.