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Lukewarm Supermarket Mushrooms at Old Montreal Hotel Resto Upset Critic

And the burger? “McDonald’s does a better job”

Facebook/Brasserie 701

You can often detect when Gazette critic Lesley Chesterman is going to put a restaurant on blast based on her review headline — positive write-ups get a glowing headline, but the bad ones get something suspiciously neutral, with the meat reserved for the main text, and that’s the case this week as she visits the Hôtel Place d’Armes restaurant Brasserie 701. Chesterman has been ambivalent about hotel dining in Montreal before (but willing to give rave reviews to spots like Laurie Raphaël), yet this spot, run by the Old Montreal-dominant Antonopoulos Group. She’s a fan of the glitzy, chandelier-adorned decor, but the food falls fairly flat: “sautéed wild mushrooms on toast” are in fact just supermarket mushrooms: “not wild, nor hot”, with a Scotch egg plopped on top; a chorizo-leek tartlet both seems to be reheated, and is made in a commercial pie crust. A burger fares “OK” but isn’t cooked as requested and comes with rather sad fries: “McDonald’s does a better job for one-third of the price,” Chesterman burns. The overcooked salmon on a pasta dish shows “negligent cooking”, while for desserts, the ambiguous “Gâteau Brasserie 701” just serves up the flavour of baking powder. It’s all rounded-out with a “snooze-fest” wine list.

Just one dish gets full approval — pan-seared cod with a basil sauce, though it’s still plagued with mushy accompaniments; a salmon tartare and sweet potato soup also merit a pass, yet it’s “the most mediocre of experiences”, nabbing a lonely one star. [Montreal Gazette]

Things are better at alt-montly Cult Montreal, where critic JP Karwacki is first to visit Little Italy Thai counter Épicerie Pumpui, open since October under former Thai delivery wiz Jesse Mulder. The headline (“curry euphoria”) partly gives it away here: Karwacki likes it, although it’s not without flaws. The papaya salad is an OK start, with a surprise heat to a normally zesty item (but the texture could be less mushy), while a rice-flour coated fried chicken is mixed, with one “satistfying drumstick” brought down by some other tough thighs. Yet the green curry is the hero, an aromatic dish with deep Thai basil flavour: “I’ve been thinking about it since”. A second visit proves curry as Mulder’s strength, with a spicy, turmeric tinged yellow curry as a winning dish. [Cult MTL]

Île Flottante
Supplied

At La Presse, Iris Gagnon-Paradis is on critic duties this week, visiting the reincarnation of Mile End hit Les Deux Singes, now known as Île Flottante. Gagnon-Paradis delivers the second critical stamp of approval for chef Sean Murray Smith’s vegetable-laden cuisine (Tastet showered it in stars in January) — it’s a “discovery of flavours and textures”. A savoury carrot cake amuse-bouche sets the tone (“delicate” and “well-balanced”), and is followed by the “star” of the evening: King Oyster mushrooms, pan-fried and counterbalanced “beautifully” with tart cran-orange jelly. Gagnon-Paradis’ suggestion that vegetables fare best is bolstered by the main meat dish, a duck breast with jus — while flavourful, it’s a little tough. Yet desserts resurrect the situation with an orange financier good enough to forget winter, and a stunning take on the titular Île Flottante. [La Presse]

Facebook/Nihon Sushi

Finally, Le Devoir’s Quebec City critic Catherine Ferland is at Nihon Sushi. The cocktails are “a hit for [her] tastebuds”, and most food fares well, from a tuna tataki salad to grilled eel nigiri. Yet the review is substantially dented by poor service — a 50-minute wait and forgotten dish with little explanation bothers Ferland (although desserts were thrown in for free), yielding a modest two and a half stars. [Le Devoir]

Brasserie 701

701 Côte de la Place d'Armes, Ville-Marie, QC H2Y 2X6 (514) 904-1201 Visit Website

Île Flottante

Rue Saint- Viateur Ouest, Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, QC H2T 2L3 (514) 278-6854 Visit Website

Épicerie Pumpui

83 Rue Saint-Zotique Est, Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC H2S 1K7 (514) 379-3024 Visit Website

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