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.
250 Av Des Pins E, Montreal, QC H2W1P3, CA
I enjoyed reading your review, very detailed ; I've never been to Laloux but it's on my short list.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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...