Montreal Plaza marks the return of local star Chef Charles-Antoine Crête who used to work at Toque!, Brasserie T!, as well as Majestique. I do not know Charles-Antoine in person, but I once ate at Toque!, several years ago, and he was at the helm. From what I recall, his mastery of French classics stood out at that time. Then, I went to Bistrot T! in its first days and he was in charge of the cooking there, and again, his classical French cooking skills allowed for some well made French bistrot fares.
I was there on February 12th 2016, in the evening, and have sampled the following dishes:
Salade de concombre mariné – Marinated cucumber salad (mixed with algae) expressed fresh acidity, the seasoning judicious. As expected from a kitchen brigade of this quality, the produce is well sourced, the notion of timing well mastered (we are a world away from the incompetent kitchen brigades that are seasoning their food way too long before serving it, or marinating their vegetables to the point of making it inedible). It is admittedly hard to get excited about a cucumber salad but this was competently executed. 7/10
Then a tartare of artic char and rice crips – the tartare as fresh and tasty as it gets at a restaurant in town, the rice crisps tiny enough so that the star item remains the tartare itself. Oftently, kitchen brigades do mistakenly mix tartares with sizeable rice crisps which diminish the appreciation of the tartare. A mistake that is avoided here. Very good 8/10
Sundae de Hamachi, crème d’oursin (Sea urchin cream / Hamachi) – The cream showcasing how confident with classic French cooking the brigade is as it was a flawless classic French rendition of a cream. Slices of superbly fresh hamachi could be found underneath the cream. All good (the taste, the textures), but sea urchin flavor is tricky to impart in a cream, oftently hard to discern, as proven by this item. In an instance like this one, just do a cream and leave the sea urchin atop. 7/10
Whelk gratiné / miso butter – whelk, chopped carrots/celery/daikon atop. The carrots seemed pickled and you also had a piece of milk bread as well as a some lime on the side. As it is the case with all the other dishes that I have tried on that evening, the execution is without reproach (the taste, tenderness and freshness of that whelk were worthy of mention), but this dish did not do it for me as I found the intense acidity of the overall dish a bit overwhelming for my taste. Still, there is nothing faulty here, just a clash with my personal taste (I am not a fan of bold sour flavors in general). 7/10
Brochette de bavette/Daikon – The high quality of that meat was a testament to the serious sourcing found under this roof, the meat flavorful and its consistency perfectly tender. Potatoes shaped like noodles as well as haskap were served atop the brochette. 8/10
Polenta/saucisse maison/mozzarella cheese/melon – The Polenta had proper creamy texture, the corn flavor shining through as it should. They did add melon, a piece of mozzarella cheese and homemade sausage, all add-ons that made perfect sense on the palate. 7/10
PROS: The ingredient sourcing is great , the service superb.
CONS: Is milk bread what you really want to pair with that dish of whelk gratiné? My palate did not think so….
My personal overall rating for the food of this specific meal: 7/10. (Categ: North American, French, Cosmopolitan cuisine in Montreal) During this specific meal, there was no highlight (no particular work of flavor/textures or combination of ingredients that appeared, to me, as going above and beyond the standard of what is currently offered on our local finest restaurant tables as it was the case with my recent meal at Le Mousso , but the cooking is certainly competent.