- carswell Nov 2, 2006 02:50 PM
The Pine Ave. bistro gets a devastating review from Jean-Philippe Tastet in today's issue of Voir. www.voir.ca/restos/chronique.aspx?iID...
Tastet doesn't savage the restaurant so much as lament its passing. The title and teaser translate as "Who stole the real Laloux? How to replace a chef with a cook and an excellent restaurant with a second-rate canteen." His overall conclusion: the decor is the only thing remaining from the bistro's glory days. (According to the article, longtime chef André Besson has been axed.)
Will provide a summary of the more salient points when I can find a minute. In the meantime, has anyone been to the restaurant recently? Is this the beginning of the end?
"Ma bouche s'est rarement aussi peu amusée que ce soir-là."
Wow, that was indeed a scathing review. I am saddened, having read the full article, at the extent to which it was a disappointment. Granted, I don't always agree with M. Tastet, but his descriptions certainly indicate a change of the worst kind. I haven't been since the summer, although I live literally just around the corner, but it was the setting for many great evenings with friends. Visitors from Toronto and Vancouver noted how it embodied the casual elegance Montreal is lucky to have, while for similar meals, they often have to deal with a trendier scene or much higher price-points. I hope the article serves as a wake-up call...
as I understood from the review, the original chef is not in the kitchen anymore, so the person who took over does not have the caliber to keep the quality of the restaurant.
also, this is not acceptable for a restaurant like Laloux :
"...Sur les quatre plats retenus à ma table, deux ne sont pas disponibles. On est pourtant en début de soirée un vendredi et je suis inquiet pour les clients qui viendront plus tard...."
I can't imagine going to a restaurant early on a friday night and not have every thing available on the "Table D'Hôte".
ok but.. la creme brulee est froide. Let me just say that except for the vergoise on top a creme brulée is 'froide', now I know many people are used to having reheated usually in a microwave, and served warm/hot.. But that is not the way creme brulée was intended.. I do not know this restaurant so my comments are generic.
While your point is well taken, you should probably cut Tastet some slack. First, he's got a track record and has never come across as getting his jollies from destroying someone's lifework. Second, as Max points out, whose lifework would he be destroying? The faceless owner's? Third, there's a tone of sadness that runs through the review, which makes it all the more poignant (and, I admit, more devastating) but also more sincere. Plus, several Chowhounders, myself included, and other reviewers have complained about the restaurant's decline in recent years (and that was before chef Besson's departure), and those of Voir's dozen or so online commenters who have recently eaten at the restaurant agree with him, while none of the commenters disagree. As a reviewer, his job is to report his experiences. There's nothing to suggest he has done so maliciously. Ideally, he and every other person who writes highly critical and potentially damaging reviews of a restaurant should eat there more than once to confirm that their first impressions are correct. Unfortunately, no Montreal newspaper takes restaurant reviewing seriously enough to provide a budget for doing so. If fault is to be laid at anyone's door, it should be Voir's or the Gazette's or La Presse's or Hour's or Le Devoir's, not Tastet's or Chesterman's or Haldane's.
The few times I ate there(10 yrs. ago),I found the food mediocre -at best.The decor was always the main point.The chefs food and ingredients are very tired.While I don't always agree with the intentions of Mr.Tastet,he is probaly not far off the mark on this one.
Better late than never. As promised, here's a summary of Tastet's review.
According to Tastet's server, the bistro has decided to simplify its menu (which was never particularly long or complicated) and offer only table d'hôte dinners (no à la carte). Of the four Tastet's party ordered early on a Friday evening, only two were available.
- a "pseudo-mousse" of chicken livers served as a teaser
- a tartar of salmon and halibut with aromatics: "insignificant," a posthumous lament for the fish that gave up their lives to make it
- seared foie gras with orange marmalade and muscat ($17 surcharge): cold plate, lukewarm foie, little muscat
- pan-fried halibut with fennel compote: the evening's only successful dish
- sweetbreads with morels: destroyed by the cooking, too much oil, not enough sweatbreads (maybe a good thing since the sweetbreads appeared to have come from a sickly animal), not many mushrooms but lots of grit
- their fundamental difference notwithstanding, both mains came with the same sides of production-line vegetables more fit for a hospital cafeteria than a fine restaurant
- crème brûlée flavoured with god knows what
- a nougat that remained virtually untouched because by then they'd reached the end of their patience.
"I left Laloux full of sadness because I used to love the place. Not that I went often, but every visit provided gastronomic pleasure. That was far from the case this time around. Sad, terribly disappointed and furious at having been duped. The chef is no longer there, though the restaurant's website still uses his name and photograph. And in leaving, the good man took with him everything of interest that this restaurant had to offer to lovers of fine food.
"This establishment duped me once before with Pop, its spin-off, where a true chef worked, a chef who was dismissed soon after my visit, undoubtedly for excellent reasons of which I am know naught. However, I do know that she wasn't replaced. And now they've done a repeat with chef Besson, gone too without a real chef taking his place. What is going on? I've said many good things about this admirable establishment in the past. I was completely sincere. Unfortunately, I'm equally sincere about everything bad I've said today. I need some Pepto Bismol.
250, avenue des Pins Est
"Open at noon from Monday to Friday and evenings all week. Allow $50 for lunch for two persons before drinks, taxes and tip, double that in the evening. This eveing, one of the worst in my last year of eating out, cost $150 with two glasses of unimpressive wine. What a waste. At least you have now been warned."
In a defence appended to the review on November 16, Taste clearly indicates that the review predated Tremblay's arrival: "ps : au fait, Laloux vient d'engager un chef et un second qui travaillent fort bien. Ce qui confirme qu'ils ont maintenant quelqu'un en cuisine. Et qui prouve qu'ils n'en avaient pas alors. On va pouvoir retourner manger chez Laloux."
Haven't been since, nor have I heard from anyone who has.
Just dropped by Laloux's website to see if it had been updated with the news. The site's been reduced to a single page. No business hours, menu or wine list but a long blurb about the new staff. Tremblay's maintaining his position at Café Massawippi but also becoming Laloux's executive chef. Actually manning the kitchen will be his longtime collaborator Dominique Boudreau. The blurb devotes one of its five paragraphs to a laudatory passage from a review of Tremblay's work in North Hatley penned by -- surprise! -- Jean-Philippe Tastet. Guess that Voir review really stung.