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Critic: Montreal’s Top TripAdvisor Restaurant Finally Nails It

And another glowing review for the new Nora Gray project

Île Flottante/Facebook

Mile End restaurant Les Deux Singes de Montarvie (now reborn as Île Flottante) sat at the very top of Montreal’s TripAdvisor rankings for an extended period — and while it received warm reviews from the more official critics, it never quite cracked the formula for a rave reviews. But now the script has been flipped — it may no longer be #1 on TripAdvisor (but it’s still pretty damn high up), yet it’s raking in great reviews, with the Gazette’s Lesley Chesterman putting forward the most glowing write-up yet.

“Talk about your major turnarounds,” writes Chesterman: service is strong, plating is attractive, and wines are better than ever before, helped along by sommelier Lévi Gobeil. And flavour-wise, the food shapes up: a savoury carrot cake amuse-bouche is “beautiful”, and the kitchen generally has a “penchant for vegetables”, notably in dishes like butter-braised leeks with a Gruyère mousse and dill foam. (Chesterman also notes that such dishes cleverly don’t rely on luxury ingredients.) The only meat dish, rosé duck magret with caramelized shallots, is a touch salty but still a “hit”, and there’s really only one flop — the titular île flottante for dessert is far too sweet for Chesterman. All in all, a whopping three and a half stars. [Montreal Gazette]

Chez Ann/Facebok

At Cult Montreal, JP Karwacki visits Griffintown all-rounder Chez Ann, which comes from one-time Bethlehem XXX chef Kimberly Houston. With Chez Ann following in Bethlehem’s footsteps and continuously shuffling its menu and culinary approach, Karwacki appreciates that “Houston keeps you guessing”. That means it’s almost redundant to list top dishes since they’ve since been turned over (for the record, the pomegranate soup with beets and cumin, and a hybrid parmentier-shepherd’s pie dish both fare well). In any case, Karwacki seems confident in Houston’s abilities to change things up while keeping quality high, and would happily return for a surprise: “It’s the kind of unreliability you can find reliable.” [Cult MTL]

Randall Brodeur/Eater Montreal

At La Presse, Marie-Claude Lortie is the second critic to drop by Elena, the new casual pizza-pasta-etc spot from two Nora Gray co-owners and reaches a conclusion that’s just as positive as the first critic: it’s great. The colourful interior with hints of the ‘80s is jazzé (in a good way), and the food upholds its end of the deal. A spinach-pecorino-spiced honey pizza is “baroque” but a success. While some dishes don’t follow the rules of Italian cuisine to the letter, the spirit is right, and more importantly, Lortie has praise for every dish, from fried gnocchi with a surprising filling of n’duja, mortadella, and eggplant to rabbit-stuffed casoncelli. The room may be far too loud, but Lortie would easily return. [La Presse]


Another newcomer racking up the good reviews is Parc-Ex Vietnamese hideaway Café Denise, as Le Devoir’s Jean-Philippe Tastet pays the Beaumont Avenue spot a visit. He appreciates the tastefully minimalist décor and gives particular props to the subtle Lhasa de Sela soundtrack; the food fares well, and while Tastet isn’t quite raving about it, he’s still warmly appreciative. Sake-miso marinated eggplant is the highlight, while betel-leaf grilled beef (bò lá lôt) is “succulent”. Three stars. [Le Devoir]

Chez Ann

988 Rue Ottawa, Montréal, QC H3C 1S3 (514) 379-6911 Visit Website

Île Flottante

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


5090 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Le Sud-Ouest, QC H4C 1T1 (514) 379-4883 Visit Website


386 Avenue Beaumont, Villeray—Saint-Michel—Parc-Extension, QC H3N 1T4 (514) 664-4637 Visit Website