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Sep 8, 2009 03:14 PM

Il Mulino - best Italian in Montreal? (moved from Quebec board)

In Saturday's Gazette, the honourable LC gave Il Mulino a top four star rating and called it "best Italian restaurant" in Montreal ( While I generally like her reviews, this one doesn't match my own experience at all; I could name several that I like better, although admittedly (and for that reason) I haven't been there for a while. There doesn't seem to be much about Il Mulino on this board so far, so I'm wondering what other people's opinions are. Have I just been unlucky, or did the chef go out of his way to pamper a known critic (she states that she was recognized when she walked in)?

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  1. I stopped reading the review after the recognition confession. How can it possibly be neutral?

    1. I think the lack of comments speaks to how seriously we Chowhounders took her reviews even before this latest ridiculous entry.

      SoupSon, you should have read to bottom for this whopper:

      "I'm sure they had enjoyed quite the Italian meal, but unless they were sitting next to me at Il Mulino, nobody on St. Zotique that night did better than I did."

      I have to wonder if it's not a review, or even rubbing our noses in it, but deadpan satire. I feel this could be the basis of great Fringe show; every other customer experiences a comedy of errors while they cater to her every whim.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Shattered

        Did the chef go out of his way to pamper a known critic? With a line like this? Pretty much a no-brainer, I'd say:
        "Not only did he recognize me the moment I took my seat (this is the third time I’m reviewing the restaurant), he even remembered that my dining companion on my last visit in 2004 was my mother and that she ate the octopus salad. Impressive."

        I would be interested in reading an unbiased review of the restaurant, but would never go by this one. Shattered, I think you've got a great idea for a show there...

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          1. Since this thread has been moved from the Quebec board and since people who don't read the Gazette may not know, LC = Lesley Chesterman, the newspaper's "fine dining critic." While in this case Ms. Chesterman was upfront about being recognized, she normally isn't. And yet her reviews run with the claim "The Gazette's reviewers visit restaurants anonymously."

            Indeed, in a recent Macleans article -- -- she self-servingly assets that her long tenure (which brings with it widespread recognition by in-the-business types) makes her a superior judge of fine-dining establishments. She also streches the truth about being censored on Chowhound. A friend wrote: "She thinks that's censorship? In some countries they simply cut off bloggers' fingers... I can imagine the writer [of the Macleans article] pitching the editor and saying 'it's a light-hearted bit' on social media and the impact it has on restaurant criticism. But it's a shame the writer couldn't spare a sentence to call out the hypocrisy – that Gazette-accredited writers are somehow more qualified to write terse, self-indulgent texts that are passed off under the heading of Criticism." A couple of days later, he followed up with "There are several reasons my thoughts drifted back to this last night: perhaps a Frank Bruni article in the Times or the wonderfully cryptic food-critic cartoon in a recent New Yorker -- -- or a more recent thread about 'tweating'; however, there are so many reasons the 'domain of the experienced professional reviewer' statement is wrong, and it's the same reason that blurting out undigested thoughts via Twitter is wrong. The key is writing. IIRC Bruni was on the city desk for years before they swept him into the critic's role. All that is not to mention the Times' insistence on anonymity."

            1 Reply
            1. re: carswell

              It wouldn't shock me if Lesley Chesterman applies to be a judge for the upcoming new series Top Chef Canada. She could be inspired by restaurant critics Jay Rayner & Gail Greene(judges on Top Chef Masters). These days many restaurant critics are not really anonymous.