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Joe Beef’s Little Italy Wine Bar Sparkles in Its First Review

While Antonio Park’s Toronto coproduction with Drake tanks

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Stephane Lavoie/Eater Montreal

Le Devoir critic Jean-Philippe Tastet is the first to drop by the newest Joe Beef group project, wine bar Mon Lapin, open in Little Italy for about a month now — and there’s no doubt for Tastet that the restaurant, headed up by sommelier Vanya Filipovic, and chefs Marc-Olivier Frappier and Jessica Noël is a success. Tastet’s only gripe — that Mon Lapin isn’t really a wine bar — is aired early, and the critic goes on to declare that just weeks in, the restaurant is pretty much flawless, minus one or two moments when the kitchen had a heavy hand with the salt. While the ever-rotating menu has likely already changed, Tastet salivates over dishes like scallops with mushroom butter, and crab with aioli and butter-infused brioche: “bonheur!”. Everything else — rabbit sausage, “salade rose” with beets and shaved foie gras, a layered buckwheat cake for dessert — falls into the same category, with just a minor complaint that the sea urchin component of an omelette dish gets a little lost. Tastet’s headline may call Mon Lapin a five-star restaurant, but the end result (somewhat confusingly) is still a banging four stars. [Le Devoir]

Pick 6ix/Facebook

Time for a Week in Reviews road trip: Montreal chef Antonio Park recently opened up a Toronto restaurant, Pick 6ix, with rap star Drake. The first reviews have dropped, and it’s not pretty — Toronto Star critic Amy Pataki was first out of the gate, suggesting that while the restaurant has a veneer of wealthiness (or conspicuous consumption) to it, with fixtures like a feature wall made of Ace of Spades champagne bottles. But the Asian-fusion menu (conceived by Park as executive chef) doesn’t embody any richness at all (well, except for the high prices): fried rice is “unpleasantly crunchy”, and a host of other dishes are put under the category of “disastrous” (Korean short ribs, “banal” cheesecake), while spaghetti bolognese with poached lobster tail is “far-fetched”, although a burger fares fine. In Pataki’s words, it “started at the bottom and stays there”. One and a half stars. [Toronto Star]

A few days after Pataki, Globe and Mail critic Jason Chow reached similar conclusions: it looks fancy, but doesn’t taste that way. He also notes the generally schmoozy atmosphere, with one anecdote: “the Globe and Mail’s photographer was offered free booze and connections to Hollywood in exchange for taking a diner’s new Tinder profile pic”. While Park lends “culinary credibility”, there’s “flawed club-like service and middling food”. The fish is high-quality, as to be expected from Park, but is “needlessly” brought down by status-symbol additions like caviar and gold leaf. The Korean short-rib that Pataki disliked is good, but brought down by sides befitting of a convention centre — and the prices are outright brutal: “It’s no challenge to blow through $80 for a cocktail and two plates of food and still walk out hungry.” A sad one star. [Globe and Mail]

La Fabrique/Facebook

Back in Montreal, La Presse critic Marie-Claude Lortie is at Plateau bistro La Fabrique and finds that the hearty and earth fare is still a highlight, some nine years after her first visit: a pea soup with cream and maple is “deeply tasty”, and she admires the creativity of options like a potato salad with marinated mackerel. And while some plates seem heavy — foie gras ravioli with fried sweetbreads — Lortie overwhelmingly approves. [La Presse]

Lastly, the Gazette’s Lesley Chesterman hits the South Shore this week at Longueuil’s Dur à Cuire — and while the menu looks a little predicable on first glance, she notes creativity in the form of unusual flavour enhancers like perogies with smoked gouda, jalapenos, and chimichurri. Some odd combinations like a beet salad with snow peas, fried peanuts, dried banana, and labneh, seem weird, but work. Later on in the meal, though, the restaurant’s staple, a paella, is a disaster in too many ways to recount briefly, and desserts are too sweet, yielding a middle of the road two stars. [Montreal Gazette]

La Fabrique Bistro

3609 rue Saint-Denis, Montreal, QC H2X 3L6 (514) 544-5038 Visit Website

Dur à Cuire

219 rue Saint-Jean, Longueuil, QC J4H 2X4 (450) 332-9295 Visit Website

Mon Lapin Bar à Vin

150 Rue Saint-Zotique E, Montréal, QC H2S 1K8