When it comes to choosing a restaurant I’m sure I’m as guilty as most. We tend to stick with the tried and true areas of our city often being seduced on more than one occasion by the ‘trendy’ (Mile End, Le Plateau. Old Montreal, Griffintown etc). We are hesitant to wander too far afield which is a shame because there are neighborhoods on and off the island that definitely deserve our attention.
One such neighborhood, Wellington Street in Verdun has seen a gradual influx of talented chefs hanging up their shingles and dishing out some pretty damn good food. No doubt attracted by lower rents and taxes these chefs are quickly making their mark on our culinary scene.
I visited one such restaurant last weekend, Wellington, one of the vanguards of this ‘suburban’ movement. By the size of the overflow of happy diners on the night we were there Wellington, a BYOB establishment, is not only popular but its talented chef is meeting these expectations and putting out some excellent food.
Let me start by saying that I detest the tag given to these out of the way restaurants as ‘nice little neighborhood restaurants’. Every restaurant, no matter where it is located, is located in one ‘neighborhood’ or another and to describe them in these terms somehow should lowers our expectations and infers that they are somehow less noteworthy or deserving of our attention than their downtown counterparts. Thus us utter nonsense!
The ambiance at Wellington is bistro chic with its traditional leather backed banquettes, blackboard menus and clean granite topped tables. The food can be described as ‘elevated bistro’, not fussy, but largely very well prepared and plated in clean creative and ample portions.
The menu is not large, but is very market oriented offering six or seven appetizers and an equal number of main dishes. They offer an attractive very reasonably priced five course tasting menu (which we chose) that includes a chef’s choice of appetizer, our choice of entree, a trou Normand and our choice of their main dishes and desserts. As mentioned, Wellington is a BYOB establishment so feel free to splurge a bit on your favorite bottle of wine and you will still come out ahead.
Starting our five course meal was an excellent small bowl of chilled asparagus soup with crumbled feta. The velvety texture of the soup was sublime and the crumbled feta a superb pairing. Although the feta did add a welcome salty touch I personally would have liked a bit more seasoning in the soup itself.
For entrees we chose Quebec Asparagus with Calamari and Marinated Salmon with Cucumber Pearls, Pomegranate Seeds and Chili Oil. The Quebec asparagus was outstanding. The perfectly steamed four or five asparagus spears were topped with a lightly dressed salad of multi colored grape tomatoes and garnished with thin tender shards of calamari. Plated on a dark slate plate it not only tasted delicious, but looked amazing. The marinated salmon, thinly sliced and covering the entire plate, was perfectly marinated and the accompanying crunchy and slightly tart pomegranate seeds and lightly spiced chili oil were perfect foils to the fatty richness of the salmon. I don’t think the added tasteless cucumber pearls added anything positive to the dish and could have easily been omitted.
Next came a wonderfully refreshing trou Normand served typically to clean the palate before a main course. The trou Normand at Wellington was a small scoop of perfectly smooth grapefruit granita sitting in a pool of the Italian aperitif Campari ( slightly bitter mix of herbs and fruits often used as a base for cocktails). A mini mouthful made in heaven the Campari a perfect match for the grapefruit granita. I loved it!
For main courses we chose the Roasted Duck Breast with Carrot Puree, Salsify and Sauce Reglisse (licorice flavored) and Quebec Roasted Cod with a Saffron Broth. The sliced duck breast was fork tender and cooked to a perfect medium rare. Its many accompaniments, including the delicious sauce offered a kaleidoscope of textures and flavors. The roasted cod was moist and perfectly cooked. It was accompanied by a medley of perfectly cooked al dent baby pak choy, asparagus and potatoes. The advertised saffron broth however was more of a saffron cream sauce than a broth and had it been seasoned a bit more would have elevated this dish to perfection and made this luxurious cream sauce really pop.
To end our meal we chose their Pain Perdu and Baba au Rhum. Both were beautifully plated, delicious and thankfully not overly sweet. Perfect endings to a fabulous meal.
Wellington is a shining example of why we need to expand our geographic dining boundaries and head out to the ‘burbs’ more often to explore these worthy restaurants that definitely deserve a much wider audience.
There are very few BYOB restaurants on my ‘to return list’. Wellington has earned a place of honor at the top of it.
Service was friendly and professional throughout our meal.
Our meal came to $129 including taxes
3629 Wellington St
Tel: 514 419-1646
Open every evening from 6pm
Images courtesy of Resto Montreal and Trip Advisor