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For anyone who's interested: My thoughts on a dinner at Laloux.

NickMontreal Nov 26, 2009 11:17 AM

A few little thoughts on a meal I had at Laloux a few days ago, one of the suggestions from a recent thread I started. I have the ubiquitous Carswell to thank for my final decision, whose knowledge of food in Montreal, I have to say, is nothing short of encyclopedic. So thank you.

Both my partner and I were in the mood for seafood, and so decided on a 2007 Billaud Simon Chablis. A great match for the halibut and mussels on the menu that I was hankering after. The wine was a gorgeous pale yellow, with a subtle citrus nose, a slight mineral quality, and a delicate acidic finish. Great.

I kicked off with some lovely, marinated beets with soft goats cheese rolled in chives, dressed with a honey vinaigrette. I have to admit – I’ve never quite understood the combo of beets and goats cheese until I had this. The beets were fork-tender, and the goats cheese was mild enough for the flavour of the beets to carry through. A nice soft cheese, as opposed to the more popular, sharp flavoured buchettes that definitely would have been a mismatch for this dish.

My partner had a salad of Brussels sprouts, green apple and chèvre, which he deemed to be good, but nothing extraordinary.

On to the mains – I had a halibut fillet prepared paella style, in a sauce poulette garnished with a few mussels and clams. It was very good, but I understood from the menu that this dish would be more... paella like? The halibut was served atop a 1/8 inch thick sheet of rice about the size of a post-it note, which was entirely covered by the sauce poulette. So the rice was definitely not as present as I had expected. Halibut was good, the mussels and clams in particular, were bursting with flavour. Unfortunately the poulette sauce seemed to have a light frothing on the top from beating – it was clear the cooking juices had only just been beaten into the egg and cream liaison and the whole thing was dunked on top, bubbles and all. I’ve personally found froth and foam to be quite unappetizing in a meal, whether intentional or not. Overall though – the dish was very enjoyable.

My partner had the adventurous choice of sea bream stuffed with beef, served with marrow, salsify, figs and orange confit. He seemed deeply intrigued by the dish, but not that excited about it. Apparently the beef stole the show.

Dessert: I had an apricot cream tartlet (which was really just a slice of firm panna cotta placed meticulously on a sablé cookie) with orange hazelnut nougat glace. My partner let his Germanic roots get the better of him, and opted for the farmers cheese dumplings with roasted plums and speculoos. Neither of us went with the suggested dessert wines, however. I’m a sucker for a good Sauternes, and thought it a good match for something featuring apricots. My partner opted for a tawny port. My dessert was good – although the apricot cream could have done with a bit more tartness. I would probably have preferred my partner’s dessert, which looked just fabulous – truly autumn on a plate.

The service I found to be good – very accommodating even though we rolled up without a reservation, which is more than can be said for Au Pied De Cochon, whose maitre d’ seemed to be offended that we had even the nerve to come through the door without calling ahead.

I would definitely suggest to anybody to give Laloux a try. The food has a clean contemporary feel, but definitely has some accents of classic bistro. I myself would certainly be very happy to go back again.

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Restaurant Laloux
250 Av Des Pins E, Montreal, QC H2W1P3, CA

  1. NickMontreal Dec 16, 2009 07:23 AM

    So I went to the aforementioned private party at Pop! Although I enjoyed myself - it's not a patch on Laloux...

    The hors d'oeuvres were kind of dissapointing if I'm honest. There were a couple of things that were obviously just quick fixes for a party; things you can just whip out of the freezer, dunk them in the fryer and put them on pretty plates.

    Two of them looked identical which was kind of odd I thought. Little round, non-descript deep fried balls. One was a mushroom arrancini. The other a croquette filled with pintade... They were good, I just got the impression that they were there because they were quick and easy more than anything.

    One hors d'oeuvre was just plain bad. A little melba toast with a soft goats cheese. I would not be surprised if these toasts were those ones that come in a bag. They were chewy. And they were cold as opposed to room temperature. Completely bland... Weeeeird.

    I enjoyed the wine. We had a Grenache Gris from the South West of France. Very tasty little number. Dry but full of lovely soft fruit flavours. Good for it's price too.

    I also wasn't too keen on the decor. It looked nice from outside but I found it to feel like a bit of a den. It kind of has a pool hall vibe... Might be because all the tables were removed though. I won't write it off yet.

    By the way the waiter confirmed that indeed Eric Gonzalez will be leaving Laloux on January 1st. Really too bad. They said they had not found a replacement yet. I'm hoping the new chef will be as good, Laloux is such a nice little space, it deserves good food to match.

    9 Replies
    1. re: NickMontreal
      hala Dec 22, 2009 06:21 PM

      Was it this one? i have been eyeing this bottle for a week, but they don't have any close to me, so i was wondering if it was worth the treck.

      http://www.saq.com/webapp/wcs/stores/...

      By the way,l see the website says they ship. Do you know if they ship just a few bottles? and how much it costs? Thanks!

      1. re: hala
        NickMontreal Dec 23, 2009 05:55 AM

        Actually no - it's this one:

        2008 Vin de pays des Côtes Catalanes, Le Bosc, Domaine des Schistes

        Unfortunately I don't believe it's available from the SAQ.

        1. re: NickMontreal
          carswell Dec 23, 2009 07:08 AM

          I love that wine but Grenache Gris is only a component, and a minor one at that. The producer's website lists the makeup of the 2008 as 60% Macabeu, 20% Grenache Gris and 20% Vermentino.

          It's not available at the SAQ. Don't recall who the Quebec agent is (the restaurant can tell you) but, if you're willing to buy it by the case, you can order it from the agent and pick it up and pay for it a week or two later at an SAQ Sélection outlet near you.

          1. re: carswell
            carswell Dec 26, 2009 06:32 AM

            The Quebec agent for Domaine des Schistes is Les Trois Sommeliers, which isn't surprising since one of the three works (or worked -- haven't been in a while...) at Pop! No website, alas, but googling will turn up their contact info.

        2. re: hala
          m
          Mr F Dec 23, 2009 07:04 AM

          The SAQ will ship a single bottle.

          The cost is half the standard Canada Post parcel rate. For 6-12 bottles delivered in central Montreal it usually works out to around 50 cents/bottle. Expect it to be more for remote locations and smaller orders. (As a test, I did a partial checkout of the single bottle you linked to and it would be $2.72 delivery charge in the city.)

          Also, be sure to check the box marked "Please contact me if the vintage year of one or more product(s) in my cart is no longer available and substituted for another upon delivery."

          1. re: Mr F
            carswell Dec 23, 2009 08:00 AM

            Also, though it doesn't apply in this case, purchases made through the Signature stores are free.

            1. re: carswell
              hala Dec 24, 2009 12:12 PM

              thank you so much! I am glad to have that information as usually it is difficult for me to buy more than a couple of bottles at a time since i tend to be carrying groceries plus my baby in a carrier.

              1. re: hala
                carswell Dec 24, 2009 02:39 PM

                Looks like my post was a little too posthaste... It's the delivery on purchases made at Signature stores that's free. We can only wish the purchases were...

                1. re: carswell
                  hala Dec 24, 2009 07:07 PM

                  LOL.

      2. SnackHappy Dec 8, 2009 03:23 PM

        Just a little bit of info for those anxious to go try this place. Lesley Chesterman hinted today on twitter that Eric Gonzalez may not be at Laloux for very much longer. This place goes through chefs, like Tiger Woods goes through mistresses.

        http://twitter.com/lesleychestrman/st...

        1 Reply
        1. re: SnackHappy
          b
          BLM Dec 13, 2009 05:37 AM

          Lesley is saying now, that Eric Gonzalez is leaving Laloux January 1st.

        2. sinjawns Dec 7, 2009 07:29 AM

          A contrary report on Laloux, I'm afraid...

          We popped in to Laloux this week for lunch table d'hote; it was our first time there. We had considered going many times but it never worked out. The room looked gorgeous.

          We both had a jerusalem artichoke soup which was beautiful looking but tasted only of reduced cream. No sign of the promised truffle oil. Mains were a lamb bourek with a tagine (good flavour and tender lamb) and pan seared salmon. The salmon was the fallback option; it is not a fish I particularly enjoy, but they had run out of the only other fish option. It was better than expected but certainly nothing special.

          Dessert was the pot-de-crème au chocolat, caramel et sel Maldon (served in a mason jar) which was billed as being bitter-sweet and salty. It was neither, and I would say almost completely flavourless. Texture was provided by the captain-crunch like product between layers. This is from a choco-addict who is pleased with almost anything cacao and is particularly fond of a salty-sweet combination. Bleh.

          Here is the clincher for me: the service was abrupt, slow and unhelpful. Crucially, we were notified of the fish shortage only after we had consumed our starter; no apologies or alternatives were offered. The other issues were small things that, in aggregate, added up to an unsatisfactory experience: we asked for sparkling water and got still; our wine arrived when we were already into our main course; we received a frozen block of butter, and when I pointed this out to the waiter she said sharply, 'what do you want me to do about it?'. I asked if she would bring one that was softened, and she did so immediately without comment.

          A bad day? Maybe. But I spoke to a friend who was a regular and she says the service has been very frustrating for the last year or so; she has moved on. For the price, I would certainly look elsewhere next time.

          2 Replies
          1. re: sinjawns
            toddmundt Dec 8, 2009 03:04 PM

            I'm sorry you had a bad experience there, but I think one experience, now matter what you hear from others, shouldn't damn a restaurant. Restaurants need to be at the top of their game all the time, but they're not because they're run by people. Bad days happen; or sometimes a cranky waiter or customer creates a feedback loop that makes it hard for everyone.

            Perhaps you should wait a couple weeks and give it another try. You would have a somewhat better idea whether your experience was a bad day or a trend, and it would add to the credibility of your review here.

            1. re: toddmundt
              sinjawns Dec 9, 2009 03:53 AM

              Agreed, toddmundt, that things go up and down in a resto and that the customer vibe can affect it. Of course, we were charming, patient and uncomplaining guests (-;

              If we accept a positive review from someone who has one visit we have to accept a negative one too, no? On this occasion, the service was bad, but so was the food. That may have been a freak perfect storm, but with so many good restos in Montreal I will spend my money elsewhere.

              Nothing stopping others from giving it a go...

          2. NickMontreal Dec 2, 2009 07:14 AM

            superbossmom - thanks, I'm glad it made for good reading. Definitely put Laloux on your shortlist.

            toddmundt - have a great trip in Montreal... I trust EG won't dissapoint.

            thehotplate - I'm sold on the chocolate pudding. If I go back there any time soon I'll be sure to order it. :-)

            I'm also going to a private party at Pop! sometime soon (Laloux's sister resto just next door. If I have any thoughts I'll post them on this thread)

            Ta ta for now.

            1 Reply
            1. re: NickMontreal
              e
              english muffin Dec 3, 2009 05:19 AM

              I enjoyed reading your review. I went to Laloux 6 yrs ago and had a very good meal, but I have probably been to Pop! around 10 times in the past year! Mainly for the desserts (had that delicious cheese dumplings with plum sorbet last time) as they share the pastry chef with Laloux. I was a bit wary when Demers left, but his replacement is easily in the same league. Enjoy your meal at Pop!

            2. thehotplate Nov 29, 2009 03:25 PM

              So thrilled you enjoyed it, as I just had a wonderful meal as well. I you liked dinner, I'd thoroughly encourage you to try lunch. Their prix-fixe menu is economical, and not just because you're too full for dinner. The service was impeccable considering that only 1 girl was looking after the floor. The way they organize it is that you get a starter and main course for a very reasonable price. If you're feeling less frugal for a few extra dollars you can have foie gras as an app. Once you've managed to enjoy every last bite, then they have a beautiful selection of desserts for $5. If you ever happen to see a chocolate pudding with cookie pieces and caramel whipped cream - HAVE IT! no matter how full you may be HAVE IT! I am very rarely so pleasantly surprised by a dessert. It was impossibly light, creamy and the perfect saltiness to cut through the sweet richness!

              1. toddmundt Nov 27, 2009 12:22 PM

                Thanks for the review. We went twice last year when it was still under the Marc André Jetté and Patrice Demers regime, and it was exceptional. By all accounts, it's transitioned nicely to Chef Eric Gonzalez, and we'll be back there on our next trip in three weeks.

                1. superbossmom Nov 27, 2009 02:48 AM

                  I enjoyed reading your review, very detailed ; I've never been to Laloux but it's on my short list.

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