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Critic Finds “Granola-tarian” Veggie Restaurant LOV A Little Confused

But Kampai Garden is perfectly casual

LOV in Old Montreal
Patricia Brochu

— LOV, the new, forward-thinking vegetarian-vegan spot from Dominic Bujold (Pizzeria No 900), supported by Crudessence chef Stéphanie Audet, had a glowing write-up from Lesley Chesterman not long ago, but this week La Presse critic Marie-Claude Lortie is more hesitant. Lortie writes that she’d heard plenty of hype around the restaurant, but seems disappointed (although appreciative of its bright design), calling it a mixed bag, and questioning “what is this beautiful restaurant trying to accomplish?” Lortie says LOV fits with other vegetable-oriented restaurants with a fixation on trendy superfoods like goji berries and avocado, coining the term “granolisme” (translation: granolatarian?) for such an approach. Lortie appreciates some dishes: curry-roasted cauliflower with tahini and lemon confit is a highlight, and the poutine is a success with miso lending the sauce a deep flavour. But other offerings lack flavour or coherence: grilled celeriac with quinoa “caviar” and avocado being the biggest offender, bringing nothing flavourful, writes Lortie. The issue seems to be, Lortie concludes, that LOV is going in too many directions, exploring health-conscious options, ecologically-friendly options, and plates that foreground different vegetables’ unique traits, but without much direction. [La Presse]

Kampai Garden
Randall Brodeur

— The Gazette’s Lesley Chesterman is at Antonio Park and A5 Hospitality (Jatoba, Mayfair) coproduction Kampai Garden this week, in the old Faubourg Ste-Catherine mall downtown. Just like Thierry Daraize a few weeks back, she’s warmly approving of the uber-cool lounge and eatery. Chesterman has been quite thorough on the casual eating beat this year, and noting that Kampai isn’t a “Haute Temple de Gastronomie”, she’s very careful to critique it for what it is, a more casual, hip spot (that her nieces love, to boot). A filet mignon tartare with ponzu is inhaled, and shrimp tacos offer a “burst of fresh flavours and diverse textures”. The cocktails, too, are good — Chesterman suggests the Lucky Peach with gin, white peach, ginger, mint and ginger beer. Hotdogs and pork dumplings also get a nod of approval, but the shrimp pogo goes a little far with ketchup and mustard, but the flaws are minor. Two-and-a-half stars. [Montreal Gazette]

— Also getting its second critical visit this week is Griffintown fried chicken spot Le Bird Bar, open since November. Like the last critic, Journal de Montréal critic Thierry Daraize approves heartily of the fried chicken, particularly its not-too-greasy exterior. The reinterpreted pogo and a generous portion of beef brisket are also worthy of consideration. Aside from music that’s just too loud, Daraize does find one bigger flaw — the numerous sauces to accompany the chicken don’t really add much zing or ka-pow, a shame, writes Daraize, but it’s still three stars. [Le Journal de Montréal]

— Lastly, Le Devoir’s Jean-Philippe Tastet is back at Plateau restaurant Chambre à Part only a year after giving it rough treatment in its first ever review. This time, it’s better now that former Les Chefs star Hakim Chajar is in the kitchen. But Tastet finds it all a little flat, though he makes it clear that there are no real missteps, writing that he had expected something a bit more flamboyant from such a star. Desserts from pastry chef Anthony Flaux easily get the best grade: his white chocolate, cassis, mint and praline creation is “a perfect marriage of flavour and texture”. In the savoury courses, a scallop, rye, carrot, black wheat, and herb dish fares best, with a black wheat “tile” that, to paraphrase Tastet, wakes you up from the slumber induced by other dishes. But among others, like the beet, cheese, herb pesto, pecan, and pomegranate entrée, ingredients are lost into a bit of a nondescript mélange. Mysteriously though for such a shrug-heavy review, Tastet still awards the restaurant three-and-a-half stars. [Le Devoir]

Bird Bar

1800 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Le Sud-Ouest, QC H3J 1M5 (514) 938-4343 Visit Website

Kampai Garden

1616 Rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest, Ville-Marie, QC H3H 1L9 (514) 379-6161 Visit Website

Chambre à Part

3619 Rue Saint-Denis, Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, QC H2X 3L6 (438) 386-3619 Visit Website


1232 Rue de la Montagne, Ville-Marie, QC H3G 1Z1 (514) 287-1155 Visit Website