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Feb 26, 2011 10:33 PM

DNA Nuit Blanche... FAIL!!!! BIG FAIL

So me and a few friends had a reservation at DNA at 930pm tonight. We had waited to eat until then, all looking forward to a delicious meal at one of Montreal's noted restaurants. We heard of the set menu that was "selected by the sommelier" with wine pairings. Upon arrival we weren't seated until 1015 despite our reservations. Then we were NOT seated in the restaurant rather seated at what seemed to be a plastic table with plastic chairs in the bar section. When we asked if we could get a table in the "restaurant" section the hostess said "well did you make reservations in the restaurant?".... to me that is a stupid question when you make DINNER reservations at a restaurant you are PRESUMABLY not asking to be seated in areas such as the bathroom or the kitchen or the bar frankly, especially when it was not even specified by the person taking the reservation that there are 2 areas to eat in. THEN we were informed by the waitress that "something happened" (is all she said) and that there are NO wine pairings with the set menu. We were confused and told they knew of this as of this morning. YET when someone called to confirm the reservations that afternoon they failed to mention this key change to the night's dinner. Then she asked if we wanted to keep the set menu as a "surprise"... "Surprise" as in "i don't want to tell you what it is or else you will walk out" THANK GOD we asked her to specify. It was inspired by "women in the 80's". It ended up being more like "whatever I could find in the the pantry and the back of my freezer" type of inspiration

Course 1 (YES KEY WORD IS COURSSEEEEE) = Garlic Bread .... thats right garlic bread IS THIS A COURSE!??!?!?! I kid you not.
Course 2 = Shrimp from some fancy place... cocktail sauce - translation - SHRIMP COCKTAIL
Course 3 = Blah blah blah MASHED POTATOES
Course 4 = Chicken with Fettucini in a cream sauce - translation - FETTUCINI ALFREDO
Dessert = Creme brule
And you could NOT order anything from the a la carte menu.

Needless to say we spoke with the waitress and she was incredibly apologetic and I felt like we were not the first table to walk out on her. Apparently it was the sommelier him/herself that was cooking. A sommelier does not necessarily know how to cook. They know how to pair wines but to cook is not necessarily their forte. I don't expect to be. Anyhow, the waitress was very understanding and even gave us other suggestions to eat at in old port at 11pm.

It was a very unfortunate experience. Honestly they lost me at Garlic Bread. THAT IS NOT A COURSE! I might as well have gone to Mamma's on Pins (I love mamma's) at least there you get what you expect when you go there. I was looking forward to the experience as I have heard wonderful things about DNA and me and my group generally eat well and were expecting a delicious gastronomic experience. But now even to go on a regular night I am hesitant to try it.

DNA please don't attempt this bizarre experiment again.

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  1. It was the same set-up as last year at DNA, the chef and sommelier changing roles for one night.

    I don't remember the exact food we had, but it was very "portugese" and the wine pairing was good and fun.

    It was not perfect, but it was not as desastrous as your experience.

    As for the wine pairing, the festival site write that there is an optional wine pairing (extra-cost), maybe there was some misunderstanding. ??

    In any cases, I would contact them directly and report your bad experience.


    10 Replies
    1. re: Maximilien

      Friday nite was Chris Cosentino there cooking a head to tail meal? I never saw it advertised but once a while ago; I had booked but then had to cancel about two months ago and he even said he was coming in to cook I dreaming or did Chris Cosentino actually show up?

      1. re: blondee_47

        Cosentino dinner very much happened and was on Friday. The OP went on Saturday.

        1. re: SnackHappy

          i would have loved to have a chris cosentino head to tail meal!!! i don't think he showed up saturday that is my suspicion especially since when we asked the waitress what happened she gave a very shifty response and said "i can only say that something happened this morning" it seemed very much like it was not expected. Overall it was a bad experience from the service etc. I am curious to see if anyone else ate there and how the food actually was. We ended up at Stash cafe which was good. Great considering how hungry I was and their kitchen was actually still open. It was as if i had never tasted a potato before.

      2. re: Maximilien

        I think we are going to contact them to tell them this. The waitress was very clear that there were no wine pairings that night. My friends were quite upset and asked a few times for her to clarify. And she just went on to say that they have an extensive wine list and we are free to pick from that and try a few different glasses. It was so weird. Im still confused from the experience. GARLIC BREAD? She couldn't even dress up the description. I still can't believe the Garlic bread man..

        1. re: skwongmontreal

          Glad to hear he came how was the food snackhappy?

          1. re: blondee_47

            You must also ask if he was a VIP or not. It seems like they served a set menu for regular folk and a more elaborate/adventurous/different menu for the "VIPs". I booked this dinner back in November. Uppon arrival we were greeted by a very rude hostess who not only rolled her eyes at us, but also was extremely irritated and generally pissed off. Great start.

            The meal was interesting with a heavy focus on testicles. We expected a more piggy-oriented meal but pig wasn't even on the menu.

            First course: horse leg, horse heart and oyster tartar
            Second course: smoked eel, blood mousse, bread polenta and poached egg
            Third course: lamb internals.
            Fourth course: calf brain and lamb testicle
            Dessert course: candied cocks cone, gummied veal testicles (I believe they were raw), chocolate and sausage ice cream

            We were confused because we saw others getting fish collars and we also saw on twitter that beaver sausages and confit beaver were served.

            So after paying our bill, we proceeded to collect our coats which was an ordeal. 20 min later they finally found our coats. On the floor.

            We left confused, insulted and unimpressed.

            It's too bad because we had such high expectations.

            1. re: blondee_47

              Overall, I found it a bit underwhelming. It certainly wasn't boring. They were going for fun, inventive cookery. Taking diners out of their usual comfort zone. That part they did well, but not all the dishes worked that great.

              Most courses came out underseasoned except for the salad in the brain and testicles dish which was seriously oversalted. The fries that came with the horse heart tartare were cold and unsalted, The tartare itslef had a wonderful texture, but was rather bland. They gave us slices of brioche and suggested we eat the dish as a sandwich. A interesting idea, but the tartare got lost in all the bland starch.

              The eel, egg, blood and polenta dish was better but still underseasoned and underspiced. The smoked eel was very,very good.

              The lamb's pluck fra diavolo was prefectly cooked and seasoned, the offal bits were all delicious and the dry-hard spicy kick was very enjoyable. I would say it was the best dish of the night.

              Big brain, little brain was calf's brain and calf's testicle. The brain was perfectly cooked with a beautiful custardy texture. It was AFAIC the best bit of the whole night. I had never had testicle before and I don't think I'll be seaking it out. It was slightly gamey with the texture of overcooked shellfish and not a lot of flavour. Kinda boring.

              The dessert of 'nduja ice cream, sweet and tart rooster's crest and rooster testicle was nothing if not original, but it didn't really do much for me. The textures and flavours were certainly intersesting, but there was nothing really enjoyable about it.

              That was it for the menu if you were one of us poor plebs, but V.I.P's got a few more dishes. From what I can tell, there was blackened bass heads, beaver confit and moose snout pie with moose marrow bone and a whole truffle shaved on top. All served with much ado. Sounds better than what we had.

              Seems the crowd at the second seating was mostly industry people and other insiders. There was much hobnobing and glad-handing going on and much special treatment was afforded. Not too suprising for such an event, but I found it all a bit distracting.

              Service was slow, but very gracious and efficient. I think they put a lot of thought and effort into the meal and service, Unfortunately things just didn't come together so well.

              I didn't get the $85 wine-paring because, well... It was $85.

              1. re: SnackHappy

                Here's a link to some pictures of the dishes. Everything after the dessert is an off-menu dish.


                The dessert looks quite different from what we got, and I don't know what that sauce is on the Big Brain / Little Brain , but it never made it to our table.

                1. re: SnackHappy

                  i really wasn't a fan of the brain, or the rooster's testicles. couldn't handle the textures. i really enjoyed the lamb pluck, horse heart and the smoked eel. the ice cream was also very interesting and enjoyable. i likeed the contrast of spicy vs. sweet.

                  1. re: mtlfoodguy

                    Same here for the brain. Actually, I think a 5-course offal menu is a bit too much for me to handle. I sampled a bit of everything but I'm definitely not a fan.

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