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Critic Finds the Habs’ New Mega-Restaurant Mediocre and Unseasoned

While Montreal’s first no-tipping restaurant is “fun”

The shrimp-lobster roll
Taverne Moderne 1909

Earlier this month, the Montreal Canadiens opened Canada’s largest restaurant (by capacity), a stone’s throw from the Bell Centre arena — now, Taverne Moderne 1909 gets its first review (from JP Karwacki at Cult Montreal), and it’s the epitome of mediocre. Two weeks after opening seems a touch early for a review (that said, a restaurant feeding up to 900 people at a time should become aware of any flaws that need ironing out pretty rapidly just by mere quantity of output). Karwacki pegs the mega sports bar-cum-resto’s strategy as “serving precisely what every other restaurant in the immediate area is serving” — that is, every other restaurant rolled into one monolithic entity. It’s loud, packed with screens, although surprisingly free of “hockey kitsch”, and the food scores few goals. Seasoning is an ongoing issue across dishes: polenta fries lack flavour, and the accompanying tomato sauce is insipid; a bolognese arancini lacks salt while a Caesar salad overdoes the sodium. A lobster-shrimp roll has a good brioche, but its Sriracha mayo is bafflingly faint, even if the dish passes as “just satisfactory” — and that’s the biggest compliment Karwacki has to offer for the so-so experience. [Cult MTL]

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Gazette critic Lesley Chesterman has a far better experience this week, visiting new Petite-Patrie neighbourhood spot Bistro Rosie, from two co-owners of the former Ma’tine. She’s a fan of the open kitchen that allows customers to watch chef Jérémy Daniel-Six at work, and is chuffed with much of the output: a salad of frisée lettuce, apple, goat cheese cream, and prune vinaigrette stuns on both the texture and flavour front; while a yellow carrot soup follow-up is “fine”, but could go heavier on its Thai flavour. That’s resurrected by a rice pilaf made with parmesan broth, an “umami blitz”, and finishes strong with a dark chocolate ganache, crumble, and strawberries. Chesterman is also a fan of the restaurant’s no-tips policy, giving equal pay to servers and kitchen staff. Three stars. [Montreal Gazette]

Le Blumenthal

Thierry Daraize of Le Journal de Montréal visits big Place-des-Arts adjacent brasserie Le Blumenthal this week, and comes down pretty much where critics before him did — not a rave, but still a good spot. The interior — tree and all — is splendid, and dishes like grilled octopus and barbecue Cornish hen are just right in cooking and flavour (though he deems the accompanying barbecue sauce for the chicken a little unnecessary). But it’s mackerel with cauliflower, kale, and cherry tomatoes that are the plat du jour, even if it’s a little summery. The kitchen could attempt more daring fare, but it’s still three and a half stars. [Le Journal de Montréal]

Portofino

Le Devoir’s Quebec City correspondent Catherine Ferland isn’t quite so happy with the Old City location of Italian resto Portofino. Ferland doesn’t seem a huge fan of the Formula 1 décor about the space, but things start well with a caprese-like dish of mozzarella, tomato and balsamic reduction, perfectly matched with her sparkling rosé. The mains bring it down, though — a lasagne is strangely acidic (a word that should probably never describe that dish), and while Ferland’s veal escalope is done nicely, the sides (spaghetti, and some lonely carrots and broccoli) are bizarre. Two stars. [Le Devoir]

Note: Cult Montreal’s JP Karwacki is an occasional contributor for Eater Montreal.

Le Blumenthal

305 Rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest, Montréal, QC H2X 2A3

1909 Taverne Moderne

1288 Avenue des Canadiens-de-Montréal, Montréal, QC H3B Visit Website

Bistro Rosie

1498 Rue Bélanger, Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC H2G 1A7 (514) 303-2010 Visit Website

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