At the end of May of this year, a group of friends and I made our way north to Montreal in Canada. As far as dining is concerned we had a couple of fantastic experiences up there, but the best by far was a lovely Old Montreal restaurant called Chez L’Epicier (www.chezlepicier.com).
It is a very understated place from the outside. The day before dining there, we had walked Old Montreal and drifted right past Chez L’Epicier twice without even realizing it. Once we actually made our way there to dine and realized where the restaurant was, it gave us a a bit of a laugh. So many restaurants, with windows open and hostesses standing outside the door, seem to scream at you, “Hey you, come eat here!” Chez L’Epicier just sits there patiently and knows that true foodies will find their way there.
Hosting and Service
When we arrived, we were promptly and kindly greeted by the hostess. She was very polite and quick to help us to our table. We had a relatively early evening reservation (and yes, reservations are recommended) so that we could take advantage of the Montreal nightlife afterward. Due to the early hour, the restaurant was only moderately full, but still had a great vibe.
The only place Chez L’Epicier missed, and it was a slight miss, was that our server could have done a better job. He started off well, but as the night progressed his visits to the table were few and far between. At the time our entrees were served, a few of us wanted to order wine to have with our meals. We only managed to get an order in for wine about halfway through eating, then had to drag out finishing a bit longer to manage to actually have the wine while eating the rest of our dishes. Had service stepped up a bit more, our meal would have been flawless.
The winner of the evening was the food, and there really was no chink in the armor to speak of. There are plenty of times when you go to a restaurant and manage to find something, even just one element on the plate, that just didn’t really mesh with the rest or that could have used a bit more seasoning. For this mean, not one of us could find something to complain about. You can find a few photos of some of our dishes below.
We started off the meal with an amuse-bouche of beef tartare with a touch of green onion.
An amuse-bouche, which loosely translates to “amuse the mouth”, is a single, bite-sized hors d’ouvre that is provided by the chef. It doesn’t cost you a dime, and is a great glimpse into the chef’s approach to cooking. Plus, more often than not, it’s going to be something you wouldn’t necessarily have ordered for yourself, so be sure to take advantage and give it a try. You can look at it as a welcome gift from the chef!
My main dish was the Alberta Beef Filet Mignon. As the name suggests, the beef was from the Alberta province of Canada, a well known area for top quality beef. It was served in a decadent whiskey and cinnamon sauce with a sweet potato purée, and beef and cheddar fritter. The fritter in particular caught my attention as it was much lighter than I had expected considering it was made of beef and cheese. It served an even greater purpose as a sponge to soak up every last drop of the whiskey and cinnamon sauce. The meat was very fresh and cooked a perfect medium rare.
The other main dish I was able to try was the Variation of Mushrooms. This dish was basically mushrooms done four ways, and each way was the right way! The two that did the two-step on my tongue was a mushroom cake, almost like a meatloaf, that truly did taste like meat, and a cream of mushroom soup. Looking at their current menu, they seem to change the Variation dish seasonally, with the current Variation being of asparagus.
Dessert made it’s way to the table in the form of a medley of crèmes brûlées. The medley consisted of vanilla bean, chocolate, coffee and pistachio crème brûlées. Each was exceptionally flavored. Texture was spot on, including the perfectly hardened sugar topping.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Chez L’Epicier to someone that will be visiting Montreal. The overall experience was great, with only a slight hiccup in the service. Had that been avoided, this easily would have been an excellent dinning experience worthy of a four-fork rating.
311 rue St-Paul est
Montréal, QC H2Y 1H3, Canada