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Critic: Pastel’s Worthy of Michelin Stars

More high praise for the Old Montreal restaurant


Pastel, the new restaurant from restauranteur Kabir Kapoor and chef Jason Morris, received another rave review this past week from LaPresse critic Marie-Claude Lortie. Arriving in Old Montreal last June as a brighter counterpart to the owners’ first restaurant Le Fantôme in Griffintown, Lortie finds the precision of its “photogenic” aesthetics, service, and tasting menu to be deserving of international acclaim: “Pastel is a restaurant which, if we were in a Michelin country, would aim for the stars.”

There’s a lot of gushing over décor and food alike, with the critic noting the entire operation provides one Instagrammable moment after another. That’s not to say it’s all for show, however: A foie gras mosaic of beetroot, Asian pear, hazelnut and vegetable foam’s presentation is “spectacular”, gnocchi draws “exclamations of joy” for its “acrobatics combining richness and freshness”, and a halibut-spinach dish with puffed quinoa is “impeccable”. Only the dessert of grilled strawberries with melted goat butter is said to be lacking in the same intensity applied to the more savoury courses, and doesn’t “reinvent the genre”. [La Presse]


Over at the Montreal Gazette, critic Lesley Chesterman pays a disappointing visit to the Plateau bistro Josephine. “Rarely have I dined at a restaurant that’s so unfocused”, she writes after assessing the contrasts of its brasserie look and feel with French thematics, given how little French cuisine features on the menu. As for the food, pricing is found to be excessive and portion size is an issue as well, with appetizers being “alarmingly small” and main courses “overly generous”. As for the food itself, there are missteps found in “forgettable” and “dry” sweetbreads with escargots, and a sirloin dish served warm as opposed to hot, but others such as a dish of John Dory and a large skate wing are found delicious. The food must be the saving grace, as the critic says Josephine’s got potential, but spends too much time trying one too many angles. One and a half stars. [Montreal Gazette]


At Cult Montreal, critic Gregory Vodden hits up the Mediterranean couscous, tapas and hummus bar Birona. It appears that that the restaurant has too much going on across its two menus, and in its current state, the food stumbles as a result. While décor and cocktails get a nod, the restaurant’s clear attempts to cater as widely as possible make Vodden’s visit a scattershot of both good and bad dishes: A hummus plate and shakshouka fare well while the chicken shawarma plate is a “slow train-wreck” of collected spreads and fillings. With so much to choose from for dinner, Vodden notes that Birona would benefit from a more “streamlined” treatment that would trim down and refine the selections at hand. [Cult MTL]


Le Devoir critic Jean-Philippe Tastet was in Ottawa this past week, taking time to enjoy the restaurant Norca. With its combination of Nordic cuisine sentiments and Canadian ingredients, the critic finds the menu both attractive and delicious: A canoe of corn leaves holding braised beef cheek and a red pepper soffritto attracts the eye for presentation, while a crab raviloi is “flawless”, halibut surrounded in a knitwork of vegetables is delicious, and Tastet’s happy to find a taste of home in Norca’s selection of Quebec cheeses. He remembers the service to be attentive and efficient, but as for the décor? He forgot, as the quality of the dishes was too distracting. Four stars. [Le Devoir]


124 Rue McGill, Montréal, QC H2Y 2E5 Visit Website

Birona Hummus Bar

5417 Boulevard St-Laurent, Montréal, QC (438) 386-6228


64 Spring Street, , SC 29403 (843) 974-4105 Visit Website