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Critic: Les 400 Coups Is Solid, If a Little Too Experimental

And more praise for brunch and sandwiches at Arthurs

Les 400 Coups

— The Gazette’s Lesley Chesterman is at Les 400 Coups this week, finding that one year in, chef Jonathan Rassi (ex-Kitchen Galerie) is doing a solid job — and he even serves food on plates he fires himself. Chesterman isn’t wholly raving though — a commitment to local produce doesn’t help the restaurant given Quebec’s frozen terroir right now — too many root vegetables, and the dishes (one parsnip-based, another with turnip) have issues — “I love a good root, but by late March, I’m all rooted out”. Main plates fare much better — Chesterman dubs a veal gravlax with bleu, meringue, walnuts, shallots, and mustard greens her dish of the year so far, visually stunning and perfectly balanced. Smoked venison with pickles, dahlia root, and horseradish also get the classic Chesterman “nice”. She’s happy, but worries Rassi is pushing too hard to be experimental: “in the end [paying customers] are in a restaurant to eat, not to feel like participants in an experiment.” Two and a half stars. [Montreal Gazette]

Take a Tour of Arthurs, a New Wave Nosh Bar for Saint-Henri Fressers
Inside Arthurs
Randall Brodeur

— Lesley Chesterman approved earlier this year, and now Marie-Claude Lortie is smiling on the Ashkenazi Jewish inspired cuisine of Arthurs in Saint-Henri. She’s glad there’s a reinvented deli-style option on Montreal’s turf nowadays, and has praise for classics like the matzo ball soup, with silky noodles and schmaltz-bound dumplings. But the winner is the chicken schnitzel sandwich, lightened up with crunchy iceberg and a little tomato, with mayo and pickles: “a new Montreal classic”, Lortie writes, although she does wish the menu could be a little more out-there. [La Presse]

Randall Brodeur

— In Mile-Ex, terroir-focused Manitoba has shuffled through quite a few chefs: Cedric Nolet (who garnered a very solid Chesterman review) has moved on, and a second former Accords chef, Simon Mathys, is now in charge. But if Jean-Philippe Tastet’s review in Le Devoir is any indication, the changes aren’t hurting the restaurant. With a posse of five dudes and a short menu, Tastet is able to order everything available, in a very positive write-up. There are three standout plates: fire-cooked leek stuffed with whelk with a smoked egg-yolk sauce on the entrée side, then on the mains, a silky-smooth cod with beets, white butter, and white pine; and duck breast with shiitakes, onion, and amaranth grain (although Tastet writes that the amaranth could be ditched). In a classic Tastet criticism, desserts are a slight let-down, but it can’t be horrific, since Tastet gives four stars. [Le Devoir]

— Finally, Le Journal de Montréal’s Thierry Daraize finds that at well over a decade old, Villeray tapas restaurant Tapeo has still got it. He gives props to chef Marie-Fleur St-Pierre’s generous servings, and breaks out the ol’ Daraize “bravo” (or equivalent sentiment) for several dishes — melt-in-mouth Romesco chicken, a ceviche-like marinated swordfish dish with candied tomatoes, olive tapenade, and cilantro sprouts, and a classic Gâteau Basque with grilled almonds. But the top dish is a leek vinaigrette with mujjol caviar, avocado, lemon butter, and sheep’s milk cheese — tender leeks are served at the perfect, just warm temperature. Flaws a minor and restricted to single elements of multi-faceted dishes, so all up, it’s four stars — one of Daraize’s top reviews so far for 2017 (although he’s barely budged from the three to four star range at all). [Le Journal de Montréal]

Les 400 coups

400 rue Notre-Dame Est, Montréal, QC H2Y 1C8 514-985-0400 Visit Website


4621 Notre-Dame Ouest, Montreal, Quebec H4C 1S5


271 Rue Saint Zotique Ouest, Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC H2V 1A4 (514) 270-8000 Visit Website


511 Rue Villeray, Villeray—Saint-Michel—Parc-Extension, QC H2R 1H5 (514) 495-1999 Visit Website