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Critic: The New Café Gentile is a Solid Slice of Nonna’s Classics

Also: maybe you should dine out in Laval

Cafe Gentile

— La Presse critic Marie-Claude Lortie is the first to visit Westmount’s Cafe Gentile — a shiny new outpost of the Garment District’s old school Italian spot, open since late 2016. It’s a satisfying spot, according to Lortie, who admires the décor for its simultaneous newness while having an old, nonna-infused soul. The menu’s classics aren’t without minor hitches: a caprese salad could have fresher tomatoes (though Lortie knows that’s tricky in March), and a classic ragu is a little meat-heavy and light on sweetness. But the good easily outweighs the bad: rich eggplant parmesan, and campanelle with vodka sauce are but two highlights — she would go back for more. [La Presse]

— Journal de Montréal critic Thierry Daraize is also getting in first on a new spot: Laval’s Portland farm-to-table-inspired wine bar Oregon, also a late 2016 opener. The young, dynamic team’s operation is worth the trip down highway 13 for island-dwellers: scallops with smoked coral and blackcurrants are fresh as can be, and mackerel with shellfish, tomatoes, and raw oats draws out a classic Daraize “Bravo!”. Out of some nine plates, only one misses the mark: pork dumplings are way too garlicky inside, and too firm to boot. And the wine? Hard to say — even though it’s a wine bar, Daraize doesn’t pay them much attention, except to note that the “natural wine” label doesn’t connote inherent goodness — so that cryptic criticism is maybe where Oregon lands a solid three and a half stars for what is otherwise a very glowing review. [Le Journal de Montréal]

— Jean-Philippe Tastet is at Plateau BYOB Prince this week, and makes the French restaurant two-for-two on glowing reviews — all the while breaking out no shortage of Le Petit Prince references in his review (although with a welcome spoonful of self-awareness). It’s the kind of restaurant where “meticulous care” is given to the finer details, on an “elegant” menu. The Northern Divine caviar (pictured) from British Columbia with blinis is worth a detour in and of itself; among the mains, gnocchi with mustard, celeriac, onion consommé and parmesan shows a masterful ability to balance flavours subtly on the chef’s part. Tastet has no explicit gripes, although he glosses over the desserts a little — something Tastet is wont to do when desserts are on the weaker side (although he still compliments a passionfruit tartelette). Four stars. [Le Devoir]

— Last up, the Gazette’s Lesley Chesterman is at St-Henri bar-cum-restaurant Loïc, where the food (from chef Liam Barron, ex-Dinette Triple Crown) is superb, but points are shaved off for a few other issues. (We also learn that Chesterman used to drink downtown at Casa Pedro with a fake ID as a teen). Anyway, the top dish is ricotta ravioli with kale, hazelnuts, and parmesan: “wonderful”, and “sharp” are but two of Chesterman’s descriptors. A “luscious” steak tartare is a welcome take on a seemingly ubiquitous dish these days, and a dish like the green goddess salad that could threaten to be boring is anything but: Chesterman dubs it a “deeply flavoured pile of crunchy goodness”. As for the issues: the service was lacking (on a quiet night, no less), and Chesterman isn’t jazzed by the wine offerings and pairings, particularly for a self-proclaimed wine bar, but the excellent food earns two and a half stars. [Montreal Gazette]


771 Rue Rachel E, Montreal, Quebec H2J 2H4 514-528-8555 Visit Website

Café Gentile

4126 Sainte-Catherine O, Westmount, QC H3Z 1P4 (514) 925-8686


5001 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Le Sud-Ouest, QC H4C 1T2 (438) 372-2188 Visit Website