Une autre critique de la brasserie T! courtoisie du Globe and Mail
The sad clown clawing at the window and rubbing his belly in feigned hunger was only an amuse bouche. Soon, costumed revellers bearing colourful torches paraded into view followed by stilted mummers in enormous gowns. It's festival season in Montreal and Le Grand Spectacle is in full effect outside the windows of Brasserie t!, Normand Laprise's ebullient new restaurant on the grounds of the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art.
Chef Laprise will be familiar to readers of this newspaper for his frequent contributions to the Chef's Recipe column. His restaurant, Toque!, is entering its 17th year and remains one of Canada's culinary jewels. At t! he has eased up on many of the more challenging, labour-intensive and expensive dishes of the earlier establishment and created a classic brasserie menu that's affordable (nothing tops $20 and the amiable wine list has plenty of choices around the $40 mark) and often stunning.
The restaurant is housed in an unusual orange-accented glass rectangle that resembles an oversized bus shelter or an especially fancy airplane loading bridge. It is very bright and very loud inside in a way that you will find either festive or exhausting, depending on your appetite for rambunctious joie de vivre.
That playfulness extends to the menu, which opens with little snacks like fried cheese, fresh oysters and quite creamy devilled eggs – their luscious yolks are piped in in swirls, topped with finely chopped chives and a sprinkle of paprika. A less disciplined diner could make a meal of them.
Before the charcuterie arrives, tiny Mason jars of house-made gherkins and an incredibly thick honey mustard vinaigrette are deposited on the table. The zippy acidity of the former and the smooth, velvety sweetness of the latter act as worthy foils for the excellent cured meats. A dense, porky sausage inside a toasty little slice of brioche tastes like what happens to pigs in a blanket when they go to heaven. A version of pork cretons, the traditional Quebecois breakfast staple, is pretty much pure pork fat and therefore completely delicious.
Beyond the cured meats there are also some excellent raw dishes. The salmon tartare is particularly good thanks to the freshness of the fish and some expert seasoning. Your first taste is of herbs underpinned by an encroaching saltiness that is surpassed by the rich slickness of the salmon and finally a fading chili heat.
Not everything achieves such exalted levels, however. A goat cheese appetizer with roasted beets and a layer of mashed potatoes is oddly starchy and underwhelming, while the pork ribs – cooked as they should be: tender but not too tender – are saddled with an overly sweet barbecue sauce that lacks any real personality.
There was also some dissent at my table over the fries, which are cut a bit thicker than the gold standard (i.e., McDonald's) and cooked until really dark. Some thought they had a great homemade quality to them while the purists felt they were overdone. They reminded me of my French-Canadian grandmother's, so I loved them.
Laprise is not the only veteran Montreal chef to open a new restaurant this summer. Costas Spiliadis, the godfather of Greek cuisine in the city, has also launched Cava, a beguiling and beautiful new spot focusing on the earthy, robust food of the Greek mainland...
Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people's money. It's quite a characteristic of them. - Thatcher 1976.
La granolerie c'est un arrondissement de Montréal! - Marie-France Bazzo au 98.5