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MONTREAL PLAZA

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Montreal Plaza, located incongruously amongst the many bridal stores on St Hubert, whimsically manages to combine glamour with hominess, not an easy task. The restaurant, designed by Zebulon Perron, is gorgeous. Linen topped tables are artfully spread about the space and in small private alcoves on different levels all fronting a gleaming open white kitchen and interspersed with teddy bears, toy airplanes hanging from the ceiling, old suitcases and even a bookcase filled with children’s book and other paraphernalia. Its homey, elegant and…fun!

Service at Montreal Plaza is top notch with servers knowledgeable not only about the menu, but also with the wide range of wines on their mainly French influenced wine list which by any measure is more than fairly priced. How often do you see a bottle of wine at $29 on the wine list of ANY restaurant in Montreal!

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The cooking pedigree in the kitchen is unquestionable with chefs and co owners Charles-Antoine Crete and Cheryl Johnson, each one an alumnus of Normand Laprise’s Toque. Their audacious and often whimsical cooking is on display in almost every dish.

From a personal perspective, I am not really a big fan of small plate offerings. As a former restaurant owner I can certainly see the advantage for the restaurant in meeting their bottom line. But for me, as a diner, it is a surreptitious way to increase my final bill.

Small plates are now a bit ubiquitous in a lot of Montreal restaurants and their prices are edging ever nearer to what we used to pay for regular main plates ($22 for a small plate of cavatelli with a few mushrooms seems a bit out of line in my opinion!)

The menu at Montreal Plaza is very vegetarian friendly and most dishes are presented as ‘small plates’ with the exception of a fish dish and a meat or poultry selection served for two people.

We decided to go with six small plates and share them. We had mixed results: three hits and three that were not so memorable.

We chose the Fish Tartare ($17), Tomato and Tuna Confit ($24), Vegetable Salad ($18), Fried Cauliflower ($11), Cavatelli with Mushrooms ($22), Matsutake and Tuna Belly ($24).

The fish tartare was a sure hit. A far cry from the usual spiced mayonnaise patty it was made up of very fresh diced arctic char lightly dressed with a spicy mayonnaise dressing and served tossed in a salad of  mixed greens and perilla leaves garnished with crispy puffed rice. Fresh and delicious.

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The tomato and tuna confit was served as a ‘tian’ with layers of sliced fresh yellow tomato interspersed with crab meat and an unidentified fish confit. I was not certain that it was the advertised tuna. The presentation, flavors and textures were all top notch.

Our expectations were riding high.

Our next choice, the vegetable salad didn’t disappoint and was by far the star of our meal. A beautiful plate of an endless variety of fresh vegetables were lightly dressed and topped with an unusual but delicious quenelle of corn milk sorbet. A vegetarian’s delight. Yum!

This is when we hit a bit of a bump in the road and things started going downhill. First, the aforementioned cavatelli with wild mushrooms and corn was both boring and very under seasoned, resulting a completely tasteless and unappealing dish. The fried cauliflower had a distinct, but pedantic Asian slant, nothing very exciting here. Our final choice of matsutake with tuna belly was also a bit forgetful. Nicely presented on a glass cake stand drizzled with a cream sauce and scattered with fresh red currants was presented in three cones of thinly sliced daikon radish encasing translucent very scarce wafer thin slices of tuna belly, julienned apples and matsutake mushrooms. The ingredients were undoubtedly fresh, the textures were great and the presentation was very creative, but unfortunately there was no taste to accompany it.

We accompanied our meal with a light and fruity red wine from the Loire Valley, Grololo Pithon Paille ($56)

We concluded our meal with Frozen Strawberry Cake ($14). A light and whimsical dessert of shards of frozen strawberry cake imitating slices of candy cane were arranged against a quenelle of ice cream. Once again light, fun and delicious.

Our meal came to $233 including two cocktails, wine and taxes

 

Montreal Plaza

6230 rue St Hubert

Tel: 514 903-6230

Open 7 Days 17h00 – 23h00

www.montrealplaza.com

Images courtesy of montrealplaza.com, designmontreal.com, yelp.ca, tastet.ca

About Michael Minorgan

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