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Critic: Chic New Wine Spot Better For Snacks Than Meals

While Boxermans isn’t a knockout

Banh mi tartine

Cult Montreal dispatches JP Karwacki to newish wine-and-snack spot Monopole — located in the base of a condo building, Karwacki deems the “industrial boutique” space far better than the average uninspired commercial tenant in an apartment block. It comes off as a pleasant spot more than a mind-blowing one: chanterelle cavatelli with pumpkin purée and a creative raspberry terrine (made with agar-agar) on the desserts are the easy highlights, while most other dishes get a variation of “fine” — summed up by the comment that “something was generally off with each plate”. Those “offs” included a lack of seasoning on the eggplant pancakes, while veal tongue with bitter celery root, sour cream and more is just unbalanced — all in all Monopole is “better for a snack, and less so a full dinner.” [Cult MTL]

Beef carpaccio

At the Gazette, critic Lesley Chesterman visits Outremont’s Boxermans, the all-day brunch-wine-coffee-and-more newcomer on Van Horne. Chesterman warmly characterizes it as a very neighbourhood-level spot, like a classy version of a sitcom café. Both the “swanky” space and booze selection get an overall stamp of approval, with the natural wines getting a particular nod. Things get wobbly as the plates come out though: a provençal tomato with pecorino mousse is “a sight to behold”, while potato wedges come too salty, and with a herring mayonnaise that doesn’t work for dipping. A chicken schnitzel with cranberry is “hearty and delectable” saves Boxermans somewhat; but bland chewy squid, salty sea bass, and a wilted Italian salad on her second visit all bring it down to a modest two stars.

Dur à Cuire

Journal de Montréal critic Thierry Daraize is at Longueuil BYOB Dur à Cuire, following in the footsteps of Tastet just a few weeks ago with an even warmer take from the ever-cheery critic. It starts off fine (although not stunningly) with medjool dates, stuffed with Toulouse sausage, pâté, watercress and onion — it’s a lot, but Daraize admires the technique; the follow-up boudin goes too heavy on cloves, drowning the meaty taste. But it gets much better: Daraize’s gold star goes to beef short ribs with smoked gouda-jalapeno pierogies and chimichurri: tender meat. A close second seems to be spatzle with braised lamb and mushrooms, which artfully dodges the usual trap of restaurant spatzle being too dry. Four stars. [Le Journal de Montréal]

Le 1838 Cuisine Urbaine

At La Presse, critic Iris Gagnon-Paradis is even further off-island, as she discovers a pleasant (although imperfect) gastronomic experience at year-old Saint-Jérôme restaurant Le 1838 Cuisine Urbaine. Chef Sam Rouleau (with experience at Montreal’s Laloux) shows promise, she writes: he has a knack for presentation and meat prep: a venison dish with wild camerise berry gel is perfectly-cooked with well-selected accompaniments of gnocchi and Brussels sprouts; ditto for coffee-maple glazed short ribs. But these mains are sandwiched with less-successful dishes: a grilled octopus entrée is overdone. As for desserts, a layered custard is too heavy and trying to do too much, while a crème brûlée is “nothing memorable”. But it’s still overall satisfying, and Gagnon-Paradis would maybe return. [La Presse]

Even further north is Le Devoir critic Jean-Philippe Tastet, at woodsy Sainte-Adèle spot Recto Verso. Perfect service helps nab a few stars, as does the risotto starter — with chanterelles and candied cranberries, Tastet “writes about it with tears in [his] eyes”. He questions a couple of menu items — a savoury take on beavertails, pizza-style; and fish on a coconut-barley risotto (although his companions like them). Tastet’s elk main clears the worry though — flambéed with whiskey, it’s “another perfect dish”. In a common Tastet gripe, desserts like pouding chômeur are unremarkable, yet it emerges with three and a half stars. [Le Devoir]

Dur à Cuire

219 rue Saint-Jean, Longueuil, QC J4H 2X4 (450) 332-9295 Visit Website


782 Rue Wellington, Montréal, QC H3C 2M8 Visit Website


1041 Avenue Van Horne, Outremont, QC H2V 1J4 (514) 495-4000 Visit Website