***Joel Robuchon, unleashes a restaurant in Montreal – In 1989, Gault Millau, once a major competitor of the Michelin guide, did not hesitate to name Joel Robuchon their “Chef of the century”. Since then, the legendary Chef has opened plenty of michelin starred restaurants around the globe and this year, Chef Robuchon will add Montreal to “his map” as it was first announced by the Journal de Montreal in April 2015 (the article can be found here). The restaurant will be located in the Montreal casino . It will be an “Atelier Robuchon” (Think of gourmet French/Cosmopolitan food served to you in a tapas-bar inspired contemporary chic dining room, in black and red tones, where you can sit at a square counter and interact with the kitchen brigade. In general, at an Atelier Robuchon, you have table seating too ) and it is expected to open this fall. For those familiar with the reality of the local restaurant scene, the idea of opening an “Atelier” Robuchon instead of a formal Robuchon fine dining venture is certainly a no-brainer. But time has come for much more than just “ideas that make sense” as this is the 3rd attempt of a Michelin starred Chef in Montreal after Gordon Ramsay and Daniel Boulud (Gordon’s adventure lasting not long and Daniel, which currently opened downtown restaurant, although fine and popular, never managed to overwhelm its local competition). Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Addr: 1 Avenue du Casino, Montréal
***Wolfgang steakhouse Park Avenue (New York) – I dropped by Manhattan which is situated couple of hours drive away from Montreal and ate at Wolfgang steakhouse Park Ave which owner (Wolfgang Zwiener) was a waiter at Peter Luger for four decades. If,like me, you are both a huge fan of North American style steakhouses as well as Arts, then this place combines both attractions under one roof as the artfully decorated ceiling is worthy of attention. On to the point, I could not order their star item, the Porterhouse for two , because my dining companion insisted on ordering her sirloin, which I did not taste, thus cannot opine on, but she certainly was not unhappy about it.
I ordered the Bone-in rib eye steak which, although not the best I had in North America, was at least not far neither from the (rare) better ones, the 28 days ++ dry aged USDA prime cut packed with enticing robust taste sensation, featuring a well judged char (charred enoughly long for a proper crusty exterior while leaving the inside perfectly buttery tender and juicy), the steak cooked to the exact measure of doneness requested (medium rare). I also had some excellent blue point oysters from Long Island, big, plump and tasting marvellously of the sea. The sides are also well prepared here: broccoli was timely sauteed with chips of garlic, the french fries packed with fresh potato flavor and boasting attractive texture, with only the mushrooms failing to be enjoyable because they were way too salty. My verdict (Benchmark>Great>Good>Above average>Average): Great (8/10 Categ: World Class North American Steakhouse) NY is a mecca for good steakhouses, so the fierce competition is obviously forcing the chophouses to step up their game and the diners to be particularly picky. But at the end of the day, at such level of perfecting the steak, it boils down to personal tastes: I like and I am perfectly able to appreciate the nuances of the “feel” of dry aged over wet aged meat, and this rib eye steak met my expectations. I tend to perceive meat that is dry aged in between 35 to 40 days to provide the mouthfeel I want, and the taste of that steak had an effect on the palate that got close to what I wanted (perhaps short of 3,4 extra days of dry aging, for my taste, but I am nitpicking here). There are perhaps two or three exceptional North American artisan butchers as well as steakhouses that did surprise me with rib steaks that were a tad superior to this one I was having at Wolfgang Steakhouse, but WS is a genuinely great North American chophouse. That said, it is pricey and at those prices, I wished the service could be more consistent: it was not bad, actually really great in the beginning (not overbearing, very courteous) , but as soon as it got busy, both my dining companion and myself virtually stopped existing (our glasses of water were left empty for 45 mins…I can understand that you want us to enjoy our meal and not be bothered by the constant presence of the wait staff…but 45 minutes and not realizing that the glasses of water are empty…well, I can see no excuse for that) – Wolfgang steakhouse Park Avenue , Addr: 4 Park Ave, New York, NY 10016, Phone:+1 212-889-3369
***The best Hakata style Tonkontsu ramen in Montreal is at Yokato Yokabai – Usually I am not a big fan of Hakata style Tonkontsu ramen (just google it if you want to learn about the different types of ramen) which is what they do offer at Yokato Yokabai, but this bowl I was having was the Hakata style ramen by which I will judge all other Hakata style ramen in Montreal. Fautless texture, great depth of flavor, and well conceived toppings. My verdict (Benchmark>Great>Good>Above average>Average): Benchmark (10/10) Hakata style Tonkontsu ramen by Montreal standards, but even in Tokyo (yeah, I know, Hakata style ramen is not from Tokyo, still …Tokyo is a major world foodie hub offering ramens from all parts of Japan) it would be considered as a good bowl (though, …. a bit too small in terms of the portion – that is actually my only quip about that bowl). I just hope they do not change their current recipe as oftently seen at other ramenyas which started on the right foot (genuine bold flavors, broth with depth) but turned into average ramenyas after trying too hard to please local palates (with lightly flavored broths). Yokato Yokabai Addr: 4185 Drolet, Montréal Phone: 514- 282-9991 UPDATE April 4th 2016: I went back (my review here). The ramen was not as dazzling as on that initial visit, but make no mistake, it remains one of the very best ramen in town.