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The First Review For Joël Robuchon’s Casino Restaurant Is In

And smooth vegan spot LOV gets some love

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon

The Montreal installment of Joël Robuchon’s Atelier at Montreal’s casino wasn’t the most warmly welcomed restaurant opening: when it arrived back in December, it had drawn criticism for its use of public funds. Figures like the Gazette’s Lesley Chesterman argued that the government agency that runs Quebec’s casinos, Loto-Québec, should have chosen local talent, or should at least be more transparent about how much it was spending on the project. Now it’s getting the critics’ treatment, starting with La Presse’s Marie-Claude Lortie. And it’s pretty darn positive.

Lortie declares executive chef Éric Gonzales’ plates “masterful from all points of view: taste, presentation, technique.” (while the menu is from Robuchon, he is more or less absent from the operation). While she acknowledges the criticisms lobbed by others, Lortie decides that yes, L’Atelier does bring something new to the Montreal dining scene. Creamy foie gras with a parmesan and sweet Maury wine emulsion is both silky light and rich. A truffle plate with parmesan, quail egg, arugula sprouts, frothed laurier-infused milk, and jus also stuns, and the approval doesn’t slow down with the desserts. No dishes flop at all, although Lortie does note that there aren’t enough wines by the glass, and gives a nod to the exhorbitant prices — but she would still go back. [La Presse]

LOV in Old Montreal
Patricia Brochu

Also getting its first critical treatment is flashy Old Montreal vegetarian-vegan restaurant LOV, open since December from Dominic Bujold of Pizzeria No 900 and Crudessence fame. It’s on the casual end of the spectrum for the Gazette’s Lesley Chesterman, but she approves. The interior is what first grabs her attention: it’s “fresh and young — kind of like being immersed in a green juice smoothie, but in a good way.” Between chef Stéphanie Audet’s food, Steve Beauséjour’s wine selection and Romain Cavalier’s cocktail list, Chesterman says “we have a winner here, and the kind of restaurant we could use more of.” A burger with a “tender and tasty” veggie patty is the highlight, alongside a poutine with roast vegetable-mushroom-miso sauce, and roasted roots with a romesco-esque sauce. But gnocchi is overwhelmed with bitterness from buckwheat and arugula, and the brownie and panna cotta desserts need work, tasting “like something Gwyneth Paltrow wannabes would adore but made my inner pastry lover’s spirits sag”. Nonetheless, it’s two-and-a-half stars. [Montreal Gazette]

Over at Le Devoir, Jean-Philippe Tastet visits Bouillon Bilk’s little sibling Cadet, open since last spring. Tastet finds from service, to food, to ambiance, to beer list, it’s very well-rounded and lives up to the mothership. Highlights among the cornucopia of small plates include octopus with salsa verde, and garlic-plum cream, and sweetbread with puff pastry and mushroom. Tastet really has no downsides to point out, only approval for Cadet’s generous plates at exceedingly reasonable prices. Four stars. [Le Devoir]

Lastly, Le Journal de Montréal’s Thierry Daraize takes a week off the newcomers, instead going in to satisfy his previously-documented taste for Italian food. He’s at five-year-old Mangiafoco, Simple Plan guitarist Jeff Stinco’s Old Montreal pizzeria. Daraize has compliments all-round, from the mozzarella bar, to straightforward meatballs, to a goat cheese-lemon-leek-basil pizza which he attacks enthusiastically —to the tune of three-and-a-half stars. [Le Journal de Montréal]


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