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