Daniel Boulud’s fame took off as the Master behind ex 3 star Michelin Daniel in New York (now 2 star Michelin) and he has nowadays a mini empire of restaurants across America: Café Boulud in Toronto, Boulud Sud in New York, etc.
In Montreal, Maison Boulud is located inside the Ritz Carlton, a symbol of luxury that resonates well with the old time pal who did invite me to share this dinner with him. Coincidentally, one of my preferred French food journalists, Gilles Pudlowski, has published a rave review on Boulud Montreal. A meal, which for Gilles, was an awe-striking performance. The opinions of Gilles coupled with the idea of a meal with an old time friend sufficed to fuel my enthusiasm for eating at Maison Boulud.
The dinner menu (you can find an example of that menu here ) is divided in several sections: a tasting menu, food items to share, a section untitled “from the garden” and the A la carte items (fish, meats, pasta). Since it is white truffle season at this moment, they also have a white truffle menu. The influences of the cooking are essentially Italian, and French. The ingredients are of very high quality by Montreal restaurant standards. I ordered a starter of scallop ceviche, a main course of lobster gnocchetti as well as a dessert of Pear and hazelnuts, praliné parfait, meringue, confit lemon:
Princesse scallop ceviche, sea urchin, apple and celery – the ceviche was served in seashells, but this was closer to a salad of scallops and apple than to a proper ceviche. Yes, I could taste a bit of the ceviche’s marinade under the scallop and celery/apple, but they should have mixed all the ingredients together in the marinade. Furthermore, it is hard to appreciate a ceviche of scallops that has more apple in it than scallops. The idea of serving a ceviche as separate tiny portions is fine in regard to the presentation but I prefer having my ceviche served on a plate. The way this ceviche was conceived needs to be rethought. 6/10
Homemade Potato Gnocchetti with Lobster, Leeks, Mushrooms and Coral Emulsion – There was way too much of the emulsion for the quantity of gnocchetti and Lobster that was served. The Coral emulsion could have been more flavorful had its maritime fragrance better expressed. 6/10
Pear and hazelnuts, praliné parfait, meringue, confit lemon – Pear of good quality, dazzling sorbet (of pear), excellent praliné parfait, the meringue not only perfectly executed but also packed with superb flavor. The base of the dessert needs to be softer though (it was way too hard). Even if I take into account the issue with the base of that dessert, this —by the standards of desserts found in Montreal restaurants — was a really nice way of revisiting a classic combination of ingredients such as pear and chocolate. 7.5/10
PROS: (1) Excellent service as you would expect from both the Ritz and a Daniel Boulud’s restaurant (2) Thoughtful menu
CONS: (1)More coral emulsion than gnocchetti and Lobster..is like serving a beer with more of its frothy foam than the actual beer. Meaning, there is not much that you will end up enjoying. For my taste, this was a misjudged use of the coral emulsion. With a bit more lobster and pasta, a delicious creamier seafood flavored sauce and just a little bit of that coral emulsion, this dish would have fared far..far better. (2)In a ceviche, if the protein element is not going to cure / benefit from its marinade, then it is not a ceviche anymore. It is a salad. And a salad served in sea shells –actually even a proper ceviche in sea shells — is hardly something that you can properly taste because the portion is way too small .. therefore it won’t last enoughly long in your mouth to leave any impression.
Bottom line: it is always a great pleasure to share a meal with a long time friend, so that aspect of the dinner was perfect. On the subject of the food, it was no love, for me, except for the nice dessert and superb coffee. Service was as great as it gets in town. Maison Boulud Addr: 1228 Rue Sherbrooke O, Montréal, QC Phone: 514) 842-4224 Type of cuisine: Fine dining (French/Italian), on this evening, but they also have more casual fares. Date and time of this meal: 20-11-2015 19:30 My personal overall rating for the food of this specific meal: 6/10 Service: 10/10