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Critic: Hakim Chajar’s New Restaurant Has “Flavour, Not Flash”

And one Quebec City French restaurant nabs a full five stars

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Former Laurea chef and Les Chefs finalist Hakim Chajar opened his first restaurant back in June, and Gazette critic Lesley Chesterman was first to stop by. Chesterman acknowledges that her last encounter with Chajar’s food back in 2014 left something to be desired, but that’s no longer the case. With cocktails that show “interesting ideas” and “some real winners” (although not all), there’s promise from the beginning. Broth-braised artichokes with parmesan and lardo are a tiny bit salty, but otherwise a knockout first dish. Marrow bone with scallops and a celery-parsley salad keeps it simple and works well, as does a pig cheek dish — Chesterman writes that simplicity is where Chajar excels. Not so simple is the grilled quail: with a little bird and big, nay, excessive garnish, the quail was “smothered”; an undercooked “mush fest”. Dessert redeems this, particularly a cheesecake plate — a great three stars all up. [Montreal Gazette]

Le Continental

It’s a Quebec City review week at Le Devoir, and critic Catherine Ferland finds that Old Quebec French classic Le Continental is strong as ever. Classicism, not reinvention, is still the focus at the 61-year-old restaurant, and it shows in the refined interior steeped in romanticism. Entrées both vegetal and meaty (an oyster mushroom feuilletée; foie gras torchon) are “impeccable”. It’s a bit of a throwback that the mains are done guéridon-style at the table, but it definitely doesn’t detract: flambéed steak with a cream sauce is “practically art”, and for dessert, crêpes Suzette, torched in Grand Marnier, is an “experience” with “captivating flavour”. All in all, it might be expensive but it’s simply one of the best places in Quebec City — five stars. [Le Devoir]

Tangia

Downtown Moroccan newcomer Tangia is having a great fortnight: last week, Le Journal showered Dan Medalsy’s restaurant in stars; this week, it’s Marie-Claude Lortie’s turn to do similarly for La Presse. The decor (down to polished Moroccan teapots) sets the scene, and the food doesn’t disappoint. The mostly-veggie-based entrées fare well, from a carrot salad with complex flavour, too a well-balanced hummus and Moroccan crepes (moflettas). An eggplant salad is the only failure, undercooked and light on seasoning. The main plates pick it up again, most notably a tender chicken tagine with couscous. Desserts like a lemon cake might not be surprising, Lortie writes, but are well-done — all-up, the imperfections are minor, and Lortie would go back. [La Presse]

Coton

Lastly, Thierry Daraize is at new St-Hubert Plaza restaurant Coton, open barely a month. the mixed bag casual bistro-bar-etc has a strong start with a grilled peach, almond, ham, arugula, and chèvre salad, although the leek dish that follows tempers that somewhat with undercooked leeks (at least they’re locally-sourced, notes Daraize). Everything else excels, though — from a salmon tartare with strawberries, mayo, dill, and raifort, to a hot dog (“we’re not at the Bell Centre here,” he writes), to a frankly difficult to screw up grilled cheese. Three and a half stars. [Le Journal de Montréal]

Le Continental

4007 rue Saint-Denis, Montreal, Quebec H2W 2M3 (514) 845-6842 Visit Website

Miel

2194 Rue du Centre, Le Sud-Ouest, QC H3K 1J4 (438) 381-3838 Visit Website

Tangia

2072 Rue Drummond, Ville-Marie, QC H3G 1W9 (514) 282-9790 Visit Website

Coton

6596 Rue St-Hubert, Montréal, QC H2S 2M3 (514) 303-0255 Visit Website

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