Its facade belies the gorgeous chic industrial design behind its very inconspicuous doors. Le Serpent is another incarnation of the team behind both Le Filet and Le Club Chasse et Peche and they have come up with another winner, this time located in the old Darling Foundry in Old Montreal.
Once inside its rough exterior dotted with graffiti and its barely visible signage it gives way to a stunning ultra modern design framed in stark and elegant shades of whites, blacks and muted grays. The exposed brick, bare ducting and large factory windows are highlighted by a huge white granite topped bar running the entire length of its kitchen.
The service staff at Le Serpent are young, knowledgeable, friendly and very professional. The menu with heavy Italian influences, is not large, but its selections are intriguing and varied. The fairly priced wine list is also an eye popping treat for any serious oenophile.
The menu features a solid variety of crudos, pastas, risottos and meat and seafood choices and observing plates served around us it is obvious that plating of the food is a priority with the chef. They all looked fabulous and gave credence to the idiom that we eat with our eyes first.
We started with Octopus, served warm with potato mousseline and salsa verde ($17). and Garganelli with pistachio, Nordic shrimp, asparagus and mint ($16)
The octopus, cut into thin medallions, was perfectly cooked with just a pleasing hint of textural resistance. The medallions, laid out in a circle, were delicately covered with a fabulously ethereal blanket of potato mousseline. Coupled with its addictive salsa verde this dish was very close to perfection.
The appetizer serving of garganelli was without a doubt the star of the evening. The tight twisted curls of pasta were cooked to a perfect al dente and its combination of small tender Nordic or Matane shrimp, thin shards of fresh asparagus and fresh mint were all expertly brought together with a luxuriously light cream sauce. It was, in a word, exquisite and we lapped up every morsel!
For main courses we chose the Duck Magret with Capelletti, Jerusalem Artichokes, Cherry and Nuts ($29) and the Saturday choice from its rotisserie: Half Chicken with Tamarind, Orange and Black Rice ($26).
The tender duck maigret (breast) was sliced and cooked to an ideal medium rare and its not too sweet cherry sauce was a great foil for the rich meat. Along with an abundance of textures supplied by the ravioli type capelletti pasta, the nuts and Jerusalem artichokes it was delicious.
The chicken was also perfectly cooked resulting in very tender and succulent meat. But unfortunately its usual crisp skin was destroyed by the overly sweet orange and tamarind sauce being drizzled over it. The sauce was in need of a bit more tamarind to offset its sweetness. It was sliced and arranged atop a thin swath of well cooked black rice and a few rather overcooked and soggy leaves of bok choy. The dish would have been much better served had the rice and vegetables been given more attention and not plated directly under the chicken allowing the sauce to completely soak them. It reminded me of a very similar dish I tried a few weeks ago at a neighboring restaurant, Mercuri, just around the corner!
We accompanied our meal with a light and fruity Italian wine: Cascina, Tavijn, Freiche di Castagnola Montferrato ($53)
For dessert we shared their Nouveau Monde ($10), a mix of two thin logs of caramel cake topped with ribbons of caramel cream and served with a very dull and tasteless quenelle of sweet corn ice cream, a stroke of strawberry puree and spiked with parsnip chips. I found it boring and forgetful.
‘In spite of a couple of missteps the creativity of the food, the superb service, the lively ‘hip’ ambiance and eye popping design are in themselves more than enough justification to dine here, a thought obviously shared by the packed house in attendance the night we were there.
Our meal came to $196, including two cocktails, wine and taxes
257 rue Prince
Tel: 514 316-4666
Mon – Wed 17h45 – 22h30
Thurs & Fri 17h30 – 23h00
Sat 17h00 – 23h00
Images courtesy of www.leserpent.ca, www.prevel.ca, www.tripadvisor.ca