Beau Mont, the latest addition to the Toqué empire, has been in business for six months now. And while its first review was rather warm, the latest, from Gazette critic Joanna Fox, is rather mixed. There’s certainly dishes that Fox loves — local produce is well-highlighted in dishes like a duck pâté en croûte entrée with lingonberry jam, and “melt-in-your-mouth” Gaspésie bluefish tuna with a mushroom dashi. Desserts like pouding chômeur with sweet clover Chantilly and brown sugar sauce are “exceptional and should be mandatory”.
But for every upside, there seems to be a downside — a “timid” veal tartare, and guinea fowl breast so tough and dry that it can’t be salvaged by sides of chanterelles and corn. In general, Fox notes that individual ingredients tended to shine on various plates, rather than the dishes as a whole — suggesting that multiple dishes are only average on the composition front. The industrial chic dining room, too, while well-designed, is so perfect that it comes across as almost soulless. Fox ponders whether Toqué chef Normand Laprise and team are resting on their laurels a little, and recycling the formula from Toqué in a more casual setting: in all, the meal “left [them] all wanting something more”. A not-bad but not-good two stars.
In other recent reviews, Fox showed that she’s willing to critique more casual, counter-service spots — after visits to curry and noodle spot Épicerie Pumpui in Little Italy, she’s impressed, declaring it the “best Thai food in the city” for its layered, complex flavours in a three-star review.
But Fox saved even more stars for Argentine-influenced small plates spot Beba in Verdun, from ex-Liverpool House chef Ari Schor and his brother Pablo. The service rocks, the wine list is affordable, and almost every part of every dish from empanadas to grilled rabbit with chanterelles excels. A walloping three and a half stars, the closest to perfect since Fox signed on as the Gazette’s critic earlier this year.
Over on the other critics’ turf, Le Devoir’s Jean-Philippe Tastet seems to agree with Fox — while he’s not jazzed on the desserts like dulce de leche flan at Beba, he’s otherwise roundly impressed with everything else, particularly guinea fowl with delicata squash and salsa frita, one of the best dishes he’s tasted in a while. That helps Beba garner a hunky four stars.
In recent weeks, Tastet also visited charming Plateau Congolese spot Le Virunga, tragically ignored by critics since it opened over three years ago. Dishes like sukisa — braised goat flavoured with green anise, nutmeg, and other spices — thrill the critic in a three and a half star review. In other recent reviews for Plateau tapas spot Ibericos and Chinese newcomer Madame Liu, Tastet also handed down tidy three and a half star verdicts.
Meanwhile at La Presse, critic Marie-Claude Lortie visited American chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Montreal outpost, Marcus, in the new Four Seasons Hotel downtown. It’s certainly warmer than the first so-so write-up it earned a few months back — the dishes are soigné and the ambiance, fantastic, although Lortie doesn’t seem blown away.
Earning more praise in the digital pages of La Presse was Petite-Patrie wine bar Vinvinvin — a creative spot, where even an “elevated” baloney sandwich impresses critic Iris Gagnon-Paradis.
- Toqué! sister restaurant Beau Mont offers familiar taste of luxury [Montreal Gazette]
- Beba might be Verdun’s best-kept secret [Montreal Gazette]
- Beba: délicieuses surprises à Verdun [Le Devoir]