Since opening this summer, Perles et Paddock has received its first review from Lesley Chesterman of the Montreal Gazette, and it’s one that leans towards the positive. While the critic may have had prior knowledge walking into other establishments in the past, this one was more of a mystery until entering, immediately making an impression as a “jewel box of a building” that’s “oasis-like” among Griffintown’s predilection towards chic condos.
Décor and interior design aside, similar praise was laid on the menu by the restaurant’s new chef Paddy Cheang (Au Pied du Cochon, Toqué!, Park), whose works suggest modern French tendencies and an “ingredient-based cuisine with a high index of Instagram-ability.” Appetizers were the first to receive celebration, with a dish of cauliflower, dehydrated concord grapes, capers and mint bearing a yeast purée that gave it all “much-needed flavour accents”, and a beef tartare with poached rhubarb, hibiscus and fava beans was both artfully plated and tasty; only a plate of “luscious” Irish salmon with crème fraîche, golden beets and mini-cucumbers “underwhelmed taste-wise”.
It’s the main courses, writes Chesterman, that were the high point of her meal. Tender chicken roulade with morels, seared swordfish steak, and a filet of Gaspésie halibut all came wrapped in or draped with flavour pairings she found delicious. In short? “Loveliness all around.” As for desserts, the only misgiving was placed on the verbena panna cotta with sea buckthorn coulis and apple crumble, as it was “a bit hard on the tooth.” This option was overshadowed by figs and pecans with its chocolate base and piquant ice cream.
It seems as though the critic had little in the way of criticism when it came to Perles et Paddock’s service, style and sumptuous offerings. If anything, she wishes that “it was all a little less perfect. Chef Cheang is playing it a bit safe. A few fireworks would make a world of difference.” Three stars. [Montreal Gazette]
Bistro Rosie may have opened within the last two months, but that hasn’t stopped Thierry Daraize of Le Journal de Montréal from visiting this new spot from ex-Ma’tine principals Jérémy Daniel-Six and Sophie Duchastel de Montrouge. Beauty and simplicity are the chief impressions this new restaurant makes on the critic, with only the absence of a fixed menu causing concern; Daniel-Six regularly makes changes based on the season and an ingredient’s proximity, favouring what’s freshest and most organic.
In terms of dining, the eggplant with black radishes and onion are melt-in-the-mouth good with adequate acidity and an interesting contrast of temperatures; white beans, clams and diced potato are enjoyed as much as a boar confit with “crunchy skin”, puréed onion and olive-oiled taters. “Simple and efficient.” Not to mention a dish of cod with small, Quebecois leeks is “perfectly cooked”. As for desserts, it’s a half-half affair, as one dessert’s chocolate and pear had fruit that is “too firm” but is still well-paired to its chocolate. The other, a financier with Reine Claude plums and lemon, only lacks in how Daraize wishes the chef would consider keeping it on the menu longer. A walloping four stars. [Journal de Montréal]
Critic for La Presse Marie-Claude Lortie heads southwest this week to try Tran Cantine, a Vietnamese pho and bánh mì restaurant and one of Saint-Henri’s latest arrivals on its main strip. Founded by a daughter of the Tran family who owns and operates Pho Tay Ho in Little Italy, this restaurant features recipes that have been passed down and tweaked for a lunch counter setting; though maybe not tweaked enough.
Among the dishes that made the biggest impressions, Lortie has high praise for the raw beef salad with its tender meat, marinated onions and heaps of coriander, something she says she’d return often for. The same can be said for the barbecue pork on a bed of vermicelli and vegetables, which features a sweet marinade that “gives a caramelized flavour to the meat”.
While many of the dishes at Tran feature what’s traditional, Lortie felt that could benefit from some modification, or at least an extension of vegetarian offerings. Options such as spring rolls, peanut sauce, or the pho could do well from a “face-lift”. While the soup’s broth is “impeccably sweet”, she finds its mini serving lacks the flavour of mint, hot sauce or lime she expects and imagines taking a full meal serving might assuage this. Lastly, desserts may not be available here, but there’s recommendation for rounding out a visit with an iced coffee if one wants to end on a sweet note. [La Presse]
Whatever faults were found in chef Hakim Chajar’s menu at Miel by Lesley Chesterman back in September aren’t noticed by Le Devoir’s critic Jean-Phillippe Tastet. That may be saying a lot, as the chef himself wasn’t on deck for Tastet’s visit to the Pointe-St-Charles restaurant this past week. Instead, it was chef de cuisine Anthony Bardier at the helm. Many of the dishes at Miel, Tastet writes, “bear the signature” of Chajar, with most being “very successful and (an attestation) to the talent of the chef and his colleague.” The only exception to this was a plate of green beans whose miso vinaigrette overpowered its accompanying roasted almond and pear, and a dish of scallops, peas, watercress and pumpkin seeds that was too salty. The kitchen should be “careful not to throw salt by the handful in this dish, a pinch will do.”
After that, it all seems to be smooth sailing. Highlights from the evening include a plate of pan-fried artichokes with translucent slices of serrano which gives off the scent of white wine and thyme; tomatoes with “sex appeal” and dashes of cream, a roasted pistachio pesto, and diced pineapple impress; piglet cheeks with “exceptional tenderness” served with a tagliatelle of celery root and almond. Many of these, Tastet notes, “achieve an exercise of perfect balance” in flavour and texture. The desserts of peach and lemon cream, and a white chocolate mousse with milk foam and hazelnut biscuit and deemed “delightful”.
The critic takes a moment to note that he makes a return visit to the restaurant in the hopes that Chajar would have returned, but he was still out of action for his second trip for lunch. While Bardier held down the fort, Tastet notes, “most customers will not come for Miel, but for Hakim Chajar.” Four stars. [Le Devoir]
- Click! Trendy Perles et Paddock has plenty of Instagram-ability [Montreal Gazette]
- Coup de maître [Journal de Montréal]
- Tran Cantine: la nouvelle cantine vietnamienne [La Presse]
- Critic: Hakim Chajar’s New Restaurant Has “Flavour, Not Flash” [EMTL]
- Miel, une nouvelle ruche dans Pointe-Saint-Charles [Le Devoir]