Club Chasse et Peche & Brunoise (Montreal) – Very Good and Good

Montreal was not a complete disaster like Colborne Lane or Au Pied du Cochon. We had a few meals that were good; fine if you’re visiting but nothing worth traveling for.

Club Chasse et Peche

The name, “Hunting and Fishing Club”, and design are in-line with today’s irony as expression. There’s the requisite small sign that barely distinguished the restaurant from its neighbors – a faux exclusivity considering the restaurant is open to anyone with a reservation. The hunting theme continues inside – subterranean dining room, leather club chairs, low ceilings, antler motifs, and dark shadows – you could be eating on the 17th century frontier. The room does capture the charm of the cobbled-street Old Montreal. And the food does live up to the promise of its name – heartier fare with plenty of fish and game options.

The seared scallops w/ fennel puree and lemon confit was my lightest dish of the night. The scallops were cooked perfectly, and were naturally sweet, but the lemon confit’s addition was flawed conceptually. Its acid was welcome but its sweetness was far too cloying.

The braised piglet risotto w/ foie slivers was all of the decadence Au Pied du Cochon could hope for and executed at a level APC could only dream. The creamy risotto sat in a chicken and veal stock while the foie slowly melted over the rice. This was a hearty decadent dish with a nice depth of flavor. It didn’t have the refinement of a L’Arpege risotto or the perfect technical prowess of the Olivetto risotto, but it was executed at a level rarely seen at most restaurants.

I had trepidation over ordering the kobe hanger steak w/ green peppercorns, having been burned a few too many times. However, my fears were immediately allayed. Perfectly cooked (rare), this was one of the better pieces of kobe/wagyu I’ve had in a restaurant. It nearly melted in the mouth, unlike the promise of so many others. It lacked an intense flavor, most likely due to not dry-aging long enough but a worthy piece of meat.

The best meal of the trip. It’s not destination dining, but if your destination is Montreal, it should be your first dining choice.

Official Site: http://www.leclubchasseetpeche.com/

Brunoise

Billed as market type cuisine, the San Francisco in me expected something closer to Chez Panisse Cafe or Zuni. Instead, we get a chef who doesn’t quite seem to be sure of himself. Is he tweaking and experimenting to give his cuisine an edge? Or has he just gone a little far?

Regardless, the end result was the same – a meal that, while not bad, merely existed. The dishes just seemed a bit complicated and over-reaching. They would have been more effective had they scaled back the ingredient list and worked a bit harder on quality. Some dishes include:

  • Salt cod croquette + beets + mussels + red pepper
  • Smoked salmon + smoked paprika oil + cuumber ice cream
  • Foie gas + mushroom/tomato confit + pistachio
  • Seared scallop + oilive oil emulsion + asparagus
  • Fried & roasted quail + currant / raisin sauce + yogurt

These dishes weren’t overworked and wretched like Colborne Lane, but there was just a bit too much fuss for what was trying to be accomplished. I think the less-is-more principle could infuse their cuisine with the levity it needs. If you have two meals in Montreal, and Chesse et Peche won’t do for the second, Brunoise could fill the void. However, I don’t see a need to return.

Official Site: http://www.brunoise.ca/brunoise_index.html

  • Tom Gandey

    Brunoise was forgettable, so lets just forget it… but I have to agree with Chuck on the CeP piglet/foie risotto… this is everything that APdC claims to be. Absolute over-the-top but still retaining some sort of balance. This is where Lesley C should have taken AB for a true show of what Montreal is capable of.

    CeP may fall a little short in the “vibe” department, but its food is in the top-tier of casual semi-fine dining anywhere.

    Brunoise: Well, lets just say that the hostess was very astute and the food wasn’t very good.

  • http://www.teich.net/blog Olivia

    I suppose given the difference in our tastes, the passage of time, and the variances night to night, I shouldn’t be surprised by your meal at Brunoise. I have only been there once myself, a year ago, I’m not sure who’s meal was more representative, but I quite enjoyed it and would have loved to have a restaurant like that in Palo Alto. My review.

  • http://www.xanga.com/aromes S Lloyd

    Chuck,
    Not to throw some advertisement shots for anyone here, but although Club Chasse et Peche is nice, to someone like you who has a huge experience with world’s best tables I would not have recommended (as far as Mtl’s tables go ) dinners at Nuances, Toque, XO Le Restaurant and to some extent Raza and Jun I. Along with Le Club Chasse et Peche, I believe imho that those mentionned provide more accurate appreciation of Mtl’s top tables. With that said, NO Montreal is not Tokyo Nor Paris when it comes to restaurants (actually, that is one discussion we were having on my blog at some point: how to bring something big like Pierre Gagnaire or Joel Robuchon?). Even nearby Ottawa is getting a bit more exciting with tables like l’Atelier (something we do not have in Mtl). Best Wishes. S Lloyd

  • http://www.xanga.com/aromes S Lloyd

    Sorry Chuck:
    I meant “I would have recommended” (did a mistypo by writing “would not have recommended”

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