Caribou Gourmand caught us by surprise! A young couple from Normandy, France has settled themselves in Montreal, and have promised to bring their ethnic roots to our Quebec soil. They opened Caribou Gourmand to bring rich French food to Montreal, anything but typical, they wanted to give Montrealers something they had never seen.
With kangaroo, seal, boar, and deer tartare on the menu, we knew that we were not in for your typical French culinary journey. A little hesitant to eat seal, the chef, a native of Normandy, came out and explained that he wanted to offer a controversial menu to stand out, he didn’t want to be a restaurant like the so many other French restaurants in and around the Plateau. With passion in his eyes, he described his menu and told us to trust him.
We started with two cocktails, the pear martini with vodka, pear purée, apple, lemon and though it says thyme on the menu, we received it with rosemary. The pear purée was thick and delicious, definitely a wonderful cocktail. Our second cocktail was made with calvados, apple, ginger ale and angostura bitters for that perfect cozy fall feel. With plenty of fresh apple within the cocktail, it was very refreshing.
After we noticed all the varied meats that delved away from what you would expect from a French restaurant, we then noticed the very fair prices for such rare dishes. The table d’hôtem which changes monthly, is 36$ per person for an entrée, main dish and dessert, and trust us, they were impressive dishes. For an extra 5$ you could have a mise en bouche, which in November was the seal tataki.
The crème brulée au foie gras was part of their November table d’hôte and we couldn’t resists having dessert as an appetizer! The foie gras was mixed into the crème brulée making a saltier mousse than expected, it had little sweetness. The figs were caramelized with a hazelnut butter and a slight taste of gingerbread was enjoyed throughout the dish. This decadent appetizer should have been enjoyed as dessert!
Now for the controversial portion of the review, the seal tataki – the thought of eating seal made us squeamish. The chef came out and explained that he wanted to be controversial and serve wild seal that was killed humanely – taste is never compromised at the Caribou Gourmand and this glorious piece of tataki was full of flavour. Who knew that red meat could taste like the sea? The seal tataki is an additional 5$ as a mise en bouche on the 36$ table d’hôte, and we assure you it is worth the cost.
In the 90s, snails (or escargots) au gratin as an appetizer was all the rage in Montreal. Snails were cooked in garlic butter and often broiled with cheese as an appetizer in both French bistros and steakhouses in Montreal. These trendy items seem to have disappeared off most menus, so we were quite happy to see escargots on Caribou Gourmand’s regular menu, they were so delicious that we were soon using the crusty French bread to soak up the leftover garlic butter.
The red deer tartare is available as both an appetizer and main dish – the meat is a gorgeous red color and it has that hint of gaminess associated with deer. Served with lingonberries for tartness, a type of sweet crumble and mustard à l’ancienne for a hint of spice. A gherkin and edible flowers were the perfect adornments and we polished the plate.
Chef Guillaume recommended the Newfoundland Mussels, they just arrived that day and he had a unique way of serving them. Tossed in a lard and camembert cream sauce, the sauce that pooled at the bottom of the bowl which we later enjoyed with a spoon. Topped with lardons, greens, peas, fresh herbs, green onions, and crispy pita, he explained that what the mussels are topped with changes with the seasons, we assure you that you have never mussels like this before!
The boar braised with black beer simply melted off the bone that was rich with bone marrow (yes we dug into it like savages). The presentation was incredible and the taste even better, the outer skin was almost caramelized and the meat tender and magnificent. It sat on a bed of carrots, lentils, peas and lardons with more grains from the mustard à l’ancienne. Once again a hint of gaminess comes with using boar meat, and it was perfection in this dish!
It’s all in the details, when we were brought our bread we were explained that Caribou Gourmand also infuses their own butter, the flavour of the month was sesame soya butter, which will change with the chef’s whim. We were too full for dessert but they convinced us to try the pudding chomeur, that was not soggy but more cakelike in texture, not too rich but a lovely sweet end to such a superior meal. Topped with vanilla ice cream and an almond cookie, we have no idea how this dessert is meant for one person!
If you want a different experience than the usual French restaurants around Montreal, please check out Caribou Gourmand. Chef Guillaume and his wife make you feel right at home, he describes his dishes with such love, and it translates into every bite. We can’t wait to go back and try kangaroo, amongst other rare delicacies that are on his menu – it’s a true culinary experience for anyone who considers themselves a “foodie.”
Our Rating: Always on Thursday
Tagged: 5308 Boul St-Laurent, Boar, Crème Brulée au Foie Gras, Deer, Deer Tartare, Escargots, foie gras, French Cuisine, French Restaurant, Montreal, Montreal French restaurant, Montreal Restaurant, Mussels, Newfoundland mussels, Plateau, Plateau Restaurant, Pudding Chômeur, seal, seal tataki, Snails, Tartare