best tasting menu: europea vs. toque!
good evening chowhounders,
i made sure to read all the posts on this board dealing with europea, toque!, and all the other high end / fine dining restaurants before posting this post.
we will be celebrating our anniversary dinner saturday night and are looking to do a TASTING menu at either one of the restaurants. friday nights dinner will be @ garde-manger because it's in old montreal, it's chucks restaurant, and it's great for the late night lounge atmosphere. we are both passionate about food & wine, and have made our rounds here in toronto
so after many days & hours researching restaurant websites, message boards / forums, reading reviews, magazine articles, etc., etc., the final two have been chosen.
restaurant-toque! vs, europea
here is what i have heard & read and using to help me decide
toque - consistently great: service, food, wine pairings, etc.
europea - great value for what you get vs. what you pay, CHEF's table is available
$$ is not an option, but if save some and am still blown away then all the better.
any help would be great.
your choice: toque!? or europea? and why.
If the food is the most important factor in your decision, I would unequivocally go with Toque. There is more creativity there. There is more panache in the presentation. There is more refinement in the combination of flavors and textures. There is more seasonality and use of local producers. The service is never spectacular but then again it has always been adequate (In Quebec, many see good service as the staff being personable and friendly; I certainly do not agree).
The ambience and decor at Toque are rather particular. I do not care for them. But, as with service, this rarely detracts me from good food. This being said, Toque actually has a decor, which is something that most restaurants in Montreal do not seem to have.
I like Europea. It is good value for the money. They have done well with their location. However, their tasting menu does not ever vary much. Their attempts at "nouvelle cuisine" such as CO2 foam caesar salad are never quite successful (nor does foam caesar salad have its place on a tasting menu unless it is a Ferran Adria interpretation). To me, this restaurant is better when it tries to execute more traditional fare with touches of novelty. The service is friendlier, sometimes bordering on the unprofessional when green recruits surface from time to time. But, it is "homier".
So, my vote goes to Toque. However, if I were to be a Chowhound regular from Montreal, I would vote for Europea.
I will have to disagree with you vehemently. I don't find the food unequivocally better at Toque. Quite the opposite. Being a chef myself, I might be a pickier or nosier than others, but the food is just not spectacular or original. Just because it's a small portion, artfully arranged with sprtiz of something doesn't make it outstanding. Once at Toque I had the tasting menu and the second time items off the regular menu.
The service sucks - and not only because the servers aren't personable and friendly - but because there is a rotation of servers meaning you don't have a rapport with the person bringing you food. No one asks if you liked something or not...
And to me, if I am paying good money at a restaurnat, I expect ambiance and helpful, informed, caring staff. It's part of the dining "experience". And all of my experiences there have been nothing to write home about. If you consider yourself one of the best in Montreal and/or even Quebec, live it up that. Very simple. The restaurant reminds me of an airport first class waiting lounge (not that I've seen to many in my day) - but that's the feeling I got - impersonal and cold.
I have to agree with Barbara, I think that Toque is over raated. The service has sucked big time the 3 times that I've eaten there in the last 4 months. The only reason that I went the last time was that it was an invitation and someone else was paying.
BTW, they weren't impressed either.
My vote is also for Europea. Although Toque is good, I have been a tad dissapointed on a couple of occasions. At Europea, they make a huge effort to ensure you are completely content and you're right it is better value for the money but the quality is just as good if not better as Toque.
IF you've read all the posts then you'll know that I HATE Toque. The service was clinical, uninterested and the food was not spectacular in the least. My complaints to the restaurant must have hit their mark because they sent me a very generous gift card ($250). I would vote for Europea or the Club Chasse et Peche any day over Toque.
Or la Chronique ? Just by looking at the april "degustation" menu, I would have gone there, it was a fish only menu.
IMO, as much as Toque! is good, I feel the atmosphere too much "corporate"; Europea looks more classic while La Chronique looks more bistro.