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Lesley Chesterman Ponders When to Boycott Abusive Chefs’ Restaurants

Plus, a great review for a new curry house

Mario Batali
Eater NY/Daniel Krieger

This is “Week in Reviews”, and while Gazette critic Lesley Chesterman hasn’t penned a review for 2018 yet, she does have a thoughtful piece about whether chefs and restaurateurs accused of abuse or harassment (sexual or otherwise) should be boycotted in light of recent major allegations against chefs like Mario Batali: “That sexual harassment exists in the restaurant industry is not news, but the extent to which it’s so deeply ingrained in restaurant culture is,” writes Chesterman. But she also notes that such accusations haven’t really hit in Montreal yet (save some against “Giovanni” Apollo and against the owner of downtown restaurant Chez Alexandre).

Chesterman writes that she’d boycott a Batali or Apollo restaurant, but expresses concern about a boycott based too heavily in rumours, particularly a recent request that James Beard Award jurors leave potentially problematic individuals out of their nominations. But she’s not willing to give too much of a free pass to men in the industry, criticizing the fact that primarily women have had to point out bad behaviour: “the men aren’t calling out the men. It appears they’re closing ranks.” All in all, Chesterman’s conclusion? “It’s time to establish a new moral code in professional kitchens.”

Boxermans

As for the reviews of the week, at Le Devoir, critic Jean-Philippe Tastet visits day and night café-and-more Boxermans, and it’s the best review the Outremont spot has had since opening last summer. Tastet starts off with major praise for the skills of sommelier Morgane Muszynski, and the kind words continue with Tastet noting that Boxermans does a lot with a relatively small kitchen. Highlights include ricotta gnocchi with cherry tomatoes, roasted peppers, basil, arugula, and aged manchego — an ecstasy-inducing plate. Vegetable plates fare particularly well: one with broccoli, fried spelt, green beans, fried kale, and a pesto sauce is “beautiful”, while roast sweet potatoes with a buttermilk sauce and juniper berries are “elegant”. Desserts like a bergamot crème brûlée cap things off nicely — although in a slight twist, the whole review is wrapped off with a rough “P.S.”, advising readers to avoid the chicken schnitzel: “a plate as ugly as it was indigestible”. Ouch — but Boxermans still nabs an impressive four and half stars. [Le Devoir]

Duck red curry
Bighi Curry

Over at La Presse, reviews are now being published on Saturdays (so these write-ups will inevitably be a little behind) — critic Marie-Claude Lortie was at Centre-Sud pan-Asian curry house Bighi Curry, and finds chef Huriel Pitre’s saucy offerings eminently winter-friendly. Chicken skewers hit an ideal acidic note with green mango powder for the entrées, while the main-event curries also earn stamps of approval, particularly the Thai-leaning options (a coconut-shrimp curry, and a red curry with duck). The dessert cakes are too dry, but Lortie would otherwise definitely return. [La Presse]

Boxermans

1041 Avenue Van Horne, Outremont, QC H2V 1J4 (514) 495-4000 Visit Website

Bighi Curry

1659 Rue Ontario E, Montréal, QC H2L 1S8 (514) 379-4443 Visit Website

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