Thursday’s Montréal | French Bistrot | Addr: 1449 Rue Crescent | Url: http://www.thursdaysmontreal.com/en/bistro/
For those who knew Chef Jean-François Vachon at M sur Masson as well as (the now closed) Club des Pins, he is now at the helm of the kitchen of Thursday’s Montréal.
Terrine de foie gras de canard – This was undoubtly of good quality, the technique perfect (timely cooked at proper low temperatures), the topping of excess fat having the kind of vivid yellow texture that a lesser terrine can’t have, but for my taste I found the duck foie gras flavor way too subtle, and I suspect most people would find it underseasoned, which should not be interpreted as a reproach but a reminder that we have enjoyed so much of the stronger flavored sort of foie gras terrine that most might tend to perceive the latter as utimately better, which would be a mistake as the point of this classically executed terrine is obviously to let the foie gras flavor as minimally altered as possible. Still, I wonder if this terrine was allowed to rest enoughly long to let the flavor develops. With the terrine came a flawless homemade fig jam of an exciting depth of fresh fruit flavor , some salad as well as toasted bread. Good 7/10
Beignets de chevre en croute de Panko featured superb fresh quality goat cheese flavor with not one single of the reproaches associated with goat cheese (for eg, too strong in flavor, not that pleasant in mouth, etc) on evidence, the panko texture spot on, the accompanying salad and its dressing tasty. Where many would nowadays offer a single beignet (for..actually…the same price as 3) , they generously served three of those. By then, it became clear in my mind that this kitchen is, as far as the technique goes, one that knows what it is doing and it is doing it well. Just make sure you know your classic French cuisine and you should not fail to get to a similar conclusion. Very good 8/10
Carré d’agneau à la provencale boasted superb quality lamb from New Zealand, delivered rosy as it should, with plenty of enjoyable lamb flavor, the classic aromas of provencale seasoning genuinely well balanced with the thyme of particularly great quality . The ratatouille that came along is the finest ratatouille that I ever had in Montreal, with first-rate seasoning and ingredients as well as the joyous flavors that a great ratatouille rarely fails to express, only it’s done with refinement here, which means you won’t have to deal with the messy/oily looking sort of traditional ratatouille that some do associate with rusticity. The vegetables timely sauteed, their fresh flavors brought forward. One of the very best carré d’agneau of this city. Excellent 9/10
Baba au rhum is one of my favourite French desserts with the Louis Xv‘s being my benchmark baba in France as well as anywhere around the globe, the one at La Chronique topping the chart among those I had in Montreal. What I was having on this evening fared, to me, as less impressive (mouthfeel a tad less spectacular, textures less impressive) as those I have just mentioned and yet, there was no technical fault to be noticed: the baba raised properly, the creme chantilly of great quality, the fruits that came along were nicely sourced, the overall holding to the traditional French recipe. Good 7/10
Chocolate tart was packed with quality cocoa, the ganache’s texture nicely balanced between the soft and the firm, its taste fine, the overall done as it should, meaning that it applied the common proper techniques of classic chocolate tart, and I like chocolate tart with a greater ratio of cocoa, rather than one with a level of sweetness that’s more important than its cocoa counterpart, so that the chocolate flavor is better expressed, which was perfectly applied to this chocolate tart I was having, but this was, for my taste, perhaps not at the level of the world class chocolate tartlets I had the other day at Patrice Patissier , so not unparralled (for eg no exceptional work of the texture of both the filling and the crust) but certainly one of good level. 6/10
Rice pudding is one of my all time favourite classic French desserts, with the one of Le Casse Noix topping my chart. Although not as great as the one I have enjoyed at Le Casse Noix, this one remains a nice version made of quality cream and milk, the rice’s texture soft, the caramel featuring flawless texture and tasting delicious. Nice. 6/10
The service and ambience could hardly be bettered, the staff very accomodating and pro, and of course you have the bonus of people watching as we are on crescent street.
My personal verdict: 7/10 Really good French bistrot food, using quality produce, the house clearly interested by some aspects of Classic French cooking that many, in town, do not have ‘the guts’ to think about because it’s financially too risky to roam away from the usual safe offerings. Thursdays took that beautiful risk and the result is the rediscovery of true French cooking, albeit with a contemporary approach (the ratatouille is the perfect example of just that: not the heavy-tasting old fashion sort, but a contemporary light creation that carried on the better aspects of old fashion ratatouille) so that both the old and the new can co-exist harmoniously. As ever, the more you know, the better you appreciate, so ensure you really like / and are familiar with classic French cooking of various eras. There are thoughts and a vision under this roof.
What do I think days later: It’s being a while that I haven’t experience with true French bistrot cooking of such good standard in Montreal. I wished the desserts could dazzle, but those were proper classic French versions of the baba au rhum, chocolate tart and rice pudding.