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Update on the BYOW scene?

Hi everyone,

We're looking for a very-good-to-excellent BYOW for an upcoming celebratory dinner. Over the years we've enjoyed quite a few, but we're always eager to try something new. Faves include La Colombe, Les Infideles, Les Heritiers, Le P'tit Plateau; less recently Yo-Yo, Le Pegase, La Prunelle, L'Entrepont, Le poisson rouge ... you get the idea. Any suggestions? We've heard that Le Bleu Raisin is good - could anyone confirm that?

Thanks!

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  1. I would go to Le zeste de folie on Masson. The food is really incredible. You have to make reservations, sometimes also during the week, because it is pretty popular. Their tartare is always incredible. I had a tataki d'agneau with a 70% chocolate sauce that was also great. Their bavette de bison is always tender and juicy. Plus you got to have their butterscotch cake with warm caramel on top!

    1. Le Bleu Raisin is one of the more ambitious BYOWs and hits far more often than it misses. What's more, the chef is a wine lover who will sometimes spontaneously improvise to bring a dish closer to your wine.

      Two other places worth considering: Christophe in Outremont and, possibly, Apollo in Little Italy (possibly because recent reviews have been mixed).

      8 Replies
      1. re: carswell

        I was really dissapointed when I went to Christophe a couple of years ago. I thought it was really expensive for what we got. The table d'hôte was around 40$ and the service was incredibly bad. There was no air conditioning in our private room where we were and were dying from heat! Almost everyone was dissapointed with their food. It was in July so maybe the chef was off but I won,t be going back there.

        1. re: cricri7

          Sorry to hear that. As I recall, the chef usually takes July or part of July and August off, though my memory is that they shut the restaurant those weeks. Anyway, my several experiences have been quite different. Never phenomenal -- unlike his first, non-BYOW restaurant on Lajoie (where Delfino was until recently) -- but consistently good. And while there's one waiter who'd be more at home selling used cars in Sorrel, service has always been competent. Personally, I'd take Christophe over La Colombe and À l'os and company any day of the week, especially if I were bringing a fine bottle of, say, Burgundy.

        2. re: carswell

          The best food / wine pairing I've ever had was at Bleu Raisin. I called ahead to ask for a wine suggestion from the chef, and he was spot on.
          This might not be as important to someone who knows wine (eg. Carswell), but for me, it puts Bleu Raisin a cut above any other BYOB in the city.

          1. re: carswell

            Apollo was likewise on the short list but the reviews I've seen weren't exactly confidence-inspiring. Le Bleu Raisin sounds definitely worth trying, though! Le zeste de folie too, though maybe on another occasion. Thanks all - I'll report back.

            1. re: carswell

              I didn't really love Apollo when we went there, last fall. Most of the dishes came out cold. They were not as inspired and unusual as what we had read about in early reviews. The desserts were the most disappointing, though. Kinda boring. It's not bad food, but I don't think it's worth the money. Bleu Raisin is a much better bet.

              1. re: carswell

                I agree with Christophe. Went recently with a tasting group and found that they were really accomodating and the food was lovely.

                1. re: carswell

                  Reading a comment like "the chef... will sometimes spontaneously improvise to bring a dish closer to your wine" is a really fantastic way to sell a restaurant :) Where is Le Bleu Raisin? What kind of food?

                  1. re: afoodyear

                    On St-Denis north of Laurier. Cooking is contemporary market-driven French. See www.lebleuraisin.com

                2. I've enjoyed Le Bleu Raisin the 2 times I've been. I would agree with Carswell's assessment that the chef is ambitious. When things work they are great! So I like to go there. But I found that sometimes he tries some unusual cheese additions that don't always work for my palate. I recall not being thrilled with a mushroom appetizer that he had paired with melted cheese, I can't recall the name, but the cheese clashed with the mushrooms and the very rich brown sauce. So now I try to pick a little more carefully, and for the most part, I really enjoy his dishes.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: moh

                    Thanks for the comments! We did go to Le Bleu Raisin and loved the food (including, I must say, the cheesy additions, all of which were very expertly dosed - just enough to add a certain je ne sais quoi but not in any way overwhelming). We'll definitely be going back, though probably not on a Saturday. The acoustics are awkward and on a busy night having a conversation is a bit of a problem (not to mention the fact that service doesn't sparkle either). The charming chef recommended Tuesday or Wednesday for those who'd prefer a quieter atmosphere. Not complaining, though - the food made it worthwhile. Best jarret d'agneau I've had in a while.

                  2. Briefly mentionned but not discussed: Le Pegase. What is the general opinion and how does it differ from others on the list. Seems very French, like all the others...

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: swissfoodie

                      I went there this summer and liked it but was not that impressed. It is a bit less expensive than most of the other ones discussed here. It is a very small place where you don't go with a group. I thought it was good quality for the price.

                      1. re: swissfoodie

                        Was there last spring and it really hasn't changed much since my writeup of an earlier visit. So, consistency they've got, though you might question whether that's a good thing. www.chowhound.com/topics/97560#530732 (johnnyboy, we hardly knew ye!)

                        1. re: carswell

                          Hey, I'm still alive !
                          Though I don't visit here as often as before - too busy eating !

                      2. Excuse me if I am hijacking the thread, but what are your favorite mid range non-French BYOWs these days? Something a little bit more special then say, La Selva, perhaps something like Khyber Pass, which I like (but my partner finds it very ordinary). As much as I love the French BYOB scene, another decadent dinner of duck, offal and creme brulee sometimes doesn't excite me.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: emerilcantcook

                          I have never been there, but most of my friends have been, but there is Le piton de la fournaise. Some love it and some don't.....