***A first (??) for Quebec: a Michelin star Chef who’s Quebecois: Hughes Dufour (M.Wells Steakhouse,NYC). Michelin does not cover Canada, but many Canadian Chefs are as good as 1,2 and even 3 Michelin star Chefs in Europe. In Quebec alone, just to name a few, Chefs like De Montigny (La Chronique), Navarette Jr (Ex Raza, Callao,Madre), Rouyé (La Table des Gourmets) or Mercuri (Le Serpent) can cook food worthy of 2 or even 3 star Michelin European Michelin stars. Some of them already had Michelin stars before.
***Michelin San Francisco has freshly awarded Saison as well as Benu as the new 3 star Michelin restaurants of the USA. I do not know Saison, but I know Benu as well as their Chef Corey Lee and thought that they deserved the 3 stars since a long time. Anyways, Chef Lee was the main artisan behind the 3 stars of the French Laundry, so he’s been there, done it and naturally knows how to replicate the feature.
Down to the main feature of this post, my Oct 25th dinner at Kitchen Galerie on Jean Talon.
Dinner on Saturday Oct 25th 2014, 18:00
Type of Cuisine: North American, Market Cuisine Bistro
Type of place: feels homey, not fancy
60 Rue Jean-Talon Est, Montreal, QC
This was a romantic dinner, so devoid of the distraction of phototaking. I will, however, try to report as much as my mental notes shall remember (which is not hard to do…as bistrot food is quite straightforward) –
I started with a dozen of fresh and flawlessly shucked oysters, with a (minor) quip: the mignonette had taste that was way too sharp to be enjoyable. Still, the oysters were superb and finely sourced and there are places dedicated to oysters that can’t even shuck their oysters properly….I am not kidding….(8/10)
We both had a ‘lait de courge‘ as an amuse bouche. This had texture and flavour that explained why I have always regarded KG on Jean Talon as one of the very best bistrots that Montreal ever had: the delicious classic flavors of that pumkin cream were deep and far better than what most bistrots would do with as little as milk and squash in their hands. Of course it is simple,as bistrot food is supposed to be, but then you have got to make it as dazzling as what they did on this evening—and this is not a case when imagination is half the battle….more accurately an example of inspired cooking and witty cooking touch (9/10)
She went on with a classic of the house ‘foie gras poélé,tarte tartin‘ – the top quality foie gras so fresh in taste, the searing fabulous. Only quip is that they do not elaborate too much on the tarte tatin part anymore (actually, they should remove the mention of the tarte tatin as it is not as evident as it used to be — the , but there is virtually no pastry dough). Still, when foie gras is seared as beautifully like this and taste this great, it’s not a battle that you won,it is the war! Not impressed? Then let me know as I’ll have no probem finding, for you, tons of bistrots in America and Europe excelling at delivering weak versions of pan seared foie (lesser quality, dry, overcooked,tasting of nothing, etc). 9/10 for me, a 10/10 for her.
On this evening, we ordered the cote de boeuf for two. It was not as spectacular as the previous versions I had under this same roof (the seasoning less life-shattering, the meat great as usual but a tad less remarkable than what I had here before — it is a market-driven table, so they depend on what is available at the market, which means the meat will always be good, for sure, but at times certainly better than just good) and yet, this remains one of this city’s better cote de boeuf, underlining how good the cooking is here (by local standards). The accompanying vegetables and potato purée as delicious as I remember it from previous visits. (7/10 for me, a 8/10 for her)
Rounded the meal with a deconstructed cheesecake for her (both her and I love the classic sort, but this one was good,with blackberries/strawberries, a strawberry coulis –and the cheese itself — of fine quality. What they did is to basically lay separately on the plate, the various elements of the cheesecake instead of assembling all of them into a cake. Not a bad idea at all, eventhough the top quality ingredients were half the battle. 7/10 for both of us
I also ordered a flawlessly executed creme brulée (10/10) and upon tasting it, I wrote a note to myself that reads as follows ”next time someone tells you that a crème brulée is no big deal, tell him to start by doing it ….this well………..!!!!!!!!!!!!
Verdict: 8/10 – It has been a while since I last ate at KG on Jean Talon,but time did not alter this team’s consistent standards of joyous / flavourful bistrot cooking.
Food does not need to be a show, food does not need to be special (there is booze and its relevant special effects for that ;p), food does not need pompous settings, food just need to be executed by a serious kitchen, a focused and a committed team (you can’t do that with just name bearers and the greedy attitude to make money just for the sake of making money..nah, you can’t and KG is the proof that the ‘greed for glory’ formula can’t work as Chefs Axel,Bourdages and their team are the exact same dedicated folks as from years ago), food just need to be well done and to taste good and KG on Jean Talon has long sticked effortlesly to that principle.
The tiny bistrot remains boisterous, the vibe festive (this is what I favor the most: no focus on pompous settings/no formal service/ no tablecloth/no dependency to trends). Its food as delicious as ever, simply executed as expected from bistrot food, but doneand tasting better than at most bistrots in town. Both my sweet half and I have been long time fans of KG on Jean Talon since our very first visit here, many years ago, which is a relative achievement as far as we are both concerned because, of all the restaurants where we’ve ate at,in Montreal, only 4 or 5 tables have been worthy of our revisits and KG on Jean Talon is one of those few. Many bistrots have long disappeared from my list of preferred bisrots in town, thanks to their inconsistencies, a myriad of others have opened through the years, and yet KG on Jean Talon still reigns supreme in my top 3 bistrot in Montreal alongside Au Cinquième Péché and Bistro Cocagne.