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Critic Throws a Pile of Stars at Le Fantôme Owners’ New Resto, Pastel

While an Indian newcomer lacks spice

Randall Brodeur/Eater Montreal

There’s major good news for new Old Montreal restaurant Pastel in its first review: Gazette critic Lesley Chesterman positively loves it. Putting chef-owner Jason Morris in the same category as Le Mousso’s Antonin Mousseau-Rivard for his tip-top creativity, Chesterman says it’s “a restaurant overflowing with original ideas”. The critic opts for the nine-course tasting option and has only positive remarks for each dish: a foie gras cream dish with red beets, pears, and hazelnut is both beautiful to look at and meshes flavours perfectly; Morris shows that he continues to be able to play around with palate-matching with flair with items like blowtorched sushi rice with elements of lobster, chive, rhubarb jelly, and kombu — a mix of sushi and lobster roll, in Chesterman’s words.

From “elegant” chicken ballotine to “velvety” sturgeon and mouth-melting Wagyu short rib, it’s an orgy of flavours. Dessert keeps things simpler: Chesterman says items like a goat milk ice cream with strawberries and goat butter is a little lighter on the “wow factor” but appreciates the “less is more” approach. The only hitch is wine pairing: Chesterman writes that Pastel might go too heavy on “casual” natural wines that don’t quite jibe with the high-level culinary calibre — the price, at $490 for two people with wine pairings, is also high — but it’s still a near-perfect three and a half stars. [Montreal Gazette]

Randall Brodeur/Eater Montreal

Over at Cult MTL, there’s more praise for Pastel: critic Clayton Sandhu drops by for the $30 table d’hôte lunch. With props for the service for being less stuffy than some high-end Old Montrea establishments, he finds the three-course service a steal, from the nori and panko rolled carrot (“a sort of carrot and seaweed gusher”) to that same strawberry and goat ice cream dessert Chesterman noted: “strawberries and cream unlike any you have had before”. But the star is the chicken: while Sandhu says he’d be hesitant to order chicken breast at a fancy dinner, this one, with potato purée, zucchini flowers, and grilled green onions, all sprayed with yuzu mist: “extraordinary”. [Cult MTL]

India Rosa/Facebook

At Le Devoir, critic Jean-Philippe Tastet is back, visiting new Plateau Indian restaurant India Rosa, finding a passable but “inoffensive” experience. While the room is buzzing, the food appears to not be doing the same: despite copious mentions of “Indian spices” on the menu, opening bhajis and samosas don’t seem to wow the critic, though he doesn’t explicitly dub them bland. For the mains, the dishes “take off to a degree”, but don’t soar too high. Lamb korma, kadai chicken, and shrimp masala are not bad, but all are written off as relatively tame in terms of spice and flavour. A so-so two and a half stars. [Le Devoir]

Cicchetti/Facebook

Finally, La Presse’s Marie-Claude Lortie gets into the bar review game, with a visit Venetian-inspired Cicchetti on Parc Avenue. While she doesn’t go so far as to rave, she’s appreciative of the aperitivo approach, finding some flaws on the food, but an inviting atmosphere. Bellinis and white Negronis get nods, and the snacky foods get a stamp of approval for price. Mimosa eggs spruced up with basil might not be hyper-imaginative, but they’re reliable, but it’s a jalapeno-popper style snack with goat cheese and prosciutto that wins the day; overly dry arancini balls go in the opposite direction. Regardless, Lortie says she’d go back. [La Presse]

Bar Cicchetti

6703 Avenue du Parc, Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC H2V 4J3 (514) 379-4879 Visit Website

Pastel

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

India Rosa

1241 Avenue du Mont-Royal E, Montréal, QC H2J 1Y2 (514) 543-1880 Visit Website

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