Dinner at Le Local
A client took me out for dinner to Le Local, on William St. in Old Montreal. The space is fabulous. They have an outdoor, covered terrace, and of course indoor seating- basically one long space, with an open kitchn on one side.
Here is a very short summary: Food - outstanding. Service - crap, BUT....
When we first arrived, we were informed that there was no reservation for us. My client had made the reservation 10 days prior and reconfirmed it that morning. The man at the desk was very sweet - harried, but sweet, and promised us that we would indeed get a table, but unfortunately, not on the terrace as requested. For our trouble, he offered us dessert on the house. Yay (I love free food). We were shown to our table, and languished there for over 20 minutes - no water, no bread, no menus, no nuttin. So my client's sister got up and went to see the dude at the front, who again although harried, sent us over a waiter - but with no menus since they "didn't have any left"!! That's a first for me. 2 minutes later, a bottle of Mumm's pink champagne appears on our table - compliments of the house - for "our trouble" Yummy (I loooove free champagne). Got our menus and ordered. The bread lady comes around and says, "sorry - I barely have anything left, but I do have nut bread, olive bread and baguetter left" - well, sweetheart, why preface it with a negative? - we'd never know the difference... inexperience. We wait forever for our food (missing reservations were for 8:30 - at 9:50 we received our apps). The food finally arrives, they serve the wrong plates to the wrong people (there were 4 of us at the table- not 14 - shouldn't be THAT hard to keep track). If you don't know, just stand at the head of the table with a plate, say what it is and wait for the person to claim it. Apps. were delicious. I had the chiogga beet salad with lardons and a panko crusted poached egg, other apps were a brussel sprout salad, a leek salad and a salmon tartare - all got raves. Mains took another while to get there and again, the waitress had no clue who got what: I had a second app as my main (I'm on my "will be wearing a bathing in 2 1/2 weeks and don't want to scare the young'uns on the beach diet) the pork belly that was braised for 7 hours with a grating of cheese on it, on a bed of Dupuy lentils.... Deliciious. Absolutely delicious. The others had real mains, a nicoise salad with beatifully seared and very tasty sushi grade tuna; a shrimp risotto with mushrooms and chorizo; and a beef plate.
Of course we ordered dessert, as it was comped - and that's where the love affair ended. I ordered the mignardise plate, and again was informed that they were out of certain things.... umm, again, I'd never know the difference: I got 2 squares of fruit jelly (I don't know why this is so popular these days - it's not dessert, and it's really not exciting at all), 2 pieces of a white fudgelike thing, 2 pieces of a chocolate fudgelike thing, some crackerjack (minus the nuts or prize) and two cigarette like tubes of what I assume was marshmallow. My client ordered the foret noir for 2, and it was served as follows: a chocolate tube filled with creme fraichey tasting mousse (not a pleasant texture, temperature or taste) and a quenelle of a sorbet- flavour unidentifiable. The winning dessert was the lemon tart, which was a mini lemon meringue, very well executed. I had an espresso which was okay.
Overall, I loved the food, the atmosphere, and although the service was sorely lacking in experience, it didn't ruin my evening (as often happens). Francois, the maitre d' dude more than made up for the bad service with his apologies and comped dessert and champagne. I would highly recommend it, but don't be surprised if the service is sorely lacking. He told us that we were the 3rd group that evening whose reservations had evaporated.
The place was packed - Tuesday night or not.