I convocated last weekend, which meant I was back in my old stomping grounds of Montreal for four days.
Since my entourage, which included my parents, aunt, uncle and grandma, were all dolled up for the event, my mom decided that it would be the perfect time to finally try some French food in the French-Canadian Belle Province. Since I'd spent my four years in Montreal as a poor student, I wasn't well-versed in the French food that's available in Montreal, so I just picked Le Pois Penché, a newish "Brasserie Parisienne" that was within walking distance from our hotel.
If my uncle and grandma had their way, they would have Chinese food at every meal no matter where they are in the world, so I thank the waiter for being so patient with my family when we rejected any orders for drinks aside from water despite their impressive wine list, and when my uncle rejected his suggestion of their "signature" appetizer, the seafood platter, because the seafood would be served cold.
After struggling with the one-page menu for a little bit, everyone finally figured out something that *sounded* like something they would like to eat, and though the food was a little slow (we should've been sipping wine the whole time, after all), we finally got on our way.
Curious as to what foie gras tasted like, we ordered a tourchon of foie gras and duck confit to share as an appetizer.
Because the tourchon was basically a pâté, it was hard to discern which flavours were coming from the foie gras, and which from the duck confit. Either way, I enjoyed the savoury spread, which contrasted nicely with the sweet fig confit that came on the side.
My mom ordered a tuna tartare, and it looked gorgeous and delicious, though I didn't have any.
I ordered from the $23 prix fixe menu, which comes with one appetizer (entrée en français, which can make things a little confusing) and one main dish. Of course I naturally gravitated toward one of my favourite vegetables, beets, which came in the form of a salad on a bed of arugula with a goat cheese brûlé and a sprinkling of candied walnuts. I'm usually not a fan of goat cheese (I find it tastes too "goaty"), but this one was very mild and complemented the beets quite well.
For the main course, I chose the wild mushroom risotto with arugula and pine nuts and even though I know risotto isn't French, it was just what I needed - some carb-y comfort food with some interesting notes from the pine nuts, parmesan cheese and mushrooms.
I also had a chance to taste my parents' dishes. My dad's rack of lamb tasted good, although it was more rare in the middle than expected and a little hard to chew. My mom ordered the Tournedos Rossini, which was filet mignon, foie gras, wild mushrooms and truffle with a red wine and veal stock reduction. I enjoyed this a lot as the meat was very tender, though my mom was not a huge fan of the wine sauce.
Overall, I enjoyed the meal even though everyone else seemed to have something to complain about, which at first made me feel bad because I was the one who chose the restaurant but in the end I realized they would've complained wherever I chose, since many of their statements started with, "In Hong Kong..." It's like going to a Chinese restaurant and complaining that there isn't any wonton soup or General Tao chicken! I had to leave early as I had some after-dinner plans with friends, but not before my uncle offered to pay by shoving his credit card in the waiter's face before he'd even cleared the table and asked us whether we wanted dessert. I'm sure he left his "standard" 10% tip as well.
While the slow service might give me some second thoughts about going back the next time in Montreal, perhaps on an evening when I'm not feeling particularly hungry but feeling particularly wealthy, I'd drop in for some pleasant service, good company, good wine, and a cold seafood platter ;)
Le Pois Penché
1230 Blvd de Maisonneuve O