Diva #2’s birthday fell on a Saturday and was lucky enough to celebrate her birthday with some of her oldest and truest friends. There is something to be said about celebrating an event surrounded by those that have known you for almost your entire life. And the fact that they know way too much is a great reason to keep them around!Reservations were made at Holder, a Montreal staple and guaranteed good meal on McGill, near Old Montreal. A more upscale bistro, Holder provides delicious French food but in a classier atmosphere than the more typical casual French bistros in Old Montreal. We were seated at a semi banquet and greeted by our waiter. He was ready to take our drink order and we opted for a bottle of wine, the Washington State Merlot, the aptly named The Velvet Devil. A delicious red with a super smooth finish, it was definitely the right choice.
Diva #2 wanted to start her birthday meal correctly and there’s no better way than with oysters. Plump and deliciously salty, the oysters were served simply with a wedge of lemon and traditional red onion vinaigrette. Simplicity at it’s finest!
We even got Clouds, Diva #2’s oldest friend, to pop her oyster cherry (we have video proof). And While Diva #2 and her friend E were arguing over who should eat the last one, Clouds took matters into her own hands and swallowed the last one like a champ. It warmed Diva #2’s heart.
The Firm and Diva #2’s best friend both ordered the goat cheese appetizer. They enjoyed the combination of the flaky pastry, the smooth and tart goat cheese and the salty olive tapenade which was served with a basil emulsion. They summed it up as a fabulous dish.
Clouds ordered the salmon tartare starter. A classic in any French bistro, Holder does it right. Light tasting and not overly seasoned, you could taste the salmon and the subtle caviar which was mixed with the yogurt.
As the waiter kept filling our wine glasses, The Firm shared a pearl of wisdom from her older sister who said that if you’re going to drink and drive to at least be safe and drive a Volvo. None of us drive a Volvo, another piece of advice unheeded.
The Firm ordered the veal steak with fries. The meat was moist and became more tender with every bite. The Marsala sauce complimented it well and was a great dip for the fries.
Both E and Vim ordered the lobster ravioli. If you like truffles, you’ll enjoy this dish, otherwise, you may find it a bit overpowering. The pasta was cooked perfectly, the lobster buttery and the shaved asparagus that accompanied it paired very well.
A fan of shepherd’s pie, Diva #2’s best friend ordered this dish made with lamb. She was a little disappointed as the flavours didn’t pop as much as she would have liked though the presentation was pleasing to the eye. Diva #2 stole a bite and found it to be moist and full of flavour, as the mashed potatoes absorbed the sauce which had a very delicate taste of cognac.
There’s one dish that is almost a must when eating at Holder and that is the duck confit and Diva #2 was happy that Clouds ordered this, especially since she would be able to steal a bite or two. The skin was perfectly crispy and the meat was tender and not at all dry. The duck flavour really shone through as it was simply served with roasted potatoes and arugula.
Diva #2 had the beef cheeks bourguignonne. Absolutely delicious, the meat simply melted. The mashed potatoes it was served on picked up the demi-glace type sauce and the mushrooms added another layer of meatiness. A big, satisfying portion and paired perfectly with the wine.
A birthday cannot be properly celebrated without something sweet. E chose the yogurt and honey. A contrast in textures with the smooth yogurt and the mix of nuts that included walnuts, pistachios and almonds, the dish was enjoyable and light.
Vim chose to indulge in the chocolate mousse which was rich and very smooth and paired well with the coffee ice cream. Definitely a dish for chocolate lovers! She also had a latte which set off a little rant on cups vs. glasses. The latte was presented in a glass with no handle, wrapped with a napkin. Vim summed it up by saying the napkin “cape” had as much grip as a strapless bra. Being a sleep-deprived mother takes a toll on a woman!
The disappointment came in the form of the truffles which, according to Vim, looked like leftovers, which aptly describes it. Unfortunately, the presentation did not make the dish appealing. Though the truffles were good and creamy, the nut and chocolate bark was stale.
The butterscotch mi-cuit was good though The Firm was expecting more from it because it was recommended to her. Warm with a soft center, overall, the dessert was good and the combination with the butterscotch ice cream was nice.
One of the best desserts was the lemon mousse. Like the chocolate, if you love lemon, you’ll enjoy this dessert. Not overly lemony so that you can’t enjoy it, it was light, fresh and just the right amount of lemon, and the coconut sherbet was delicious.
Diva #2 had the pineapple turnover cake. While the presentation was nothing to write home about, the cake was moist, the pineapple was caramelized and sweet, and the English cream was an enjoyable addition.
At the end of the night, Holder delivered a wonderful meal. The ambiance was fun, the food delicious and the company could not be beat – even when Vim brought up the Barbie incident of ’86 in which Clouds shared her Barbie with Diva #2 instead of Vim and almost broke up our friendship. Diva #2 and her friends ended the night with drinks at L’Assommoire. If you’re looking for a great French bistro experience in Montreal, book a table at Holder, you won’t be disappointed.
Our Rating: Splendid
Tagged: 407 McGill, Beef Tartare, bistro, Braised Beef Cheeks, Brasserie, Brunch, Bulgarian Yogurt, Butterscotch Mi-Cuit, Chocolate Crémeux, Chocolate Truffles, Duck Confit, foie gras, French, Goat Cheese, Gravlax, H2Y 2G3, Holder, Holder McGill, Holder Montreal, Holder Old Montreal, Lamb Shepherd’s Pie, Lemon Mousse, Lobster Ravioli, McGill, Montreal, Montreal Restaurant, Old Montreal, Old Port, oysters, Pasta, Pineapple Turnover, Reservations Needed, Salmon Tartare, Simon Laplante, Splendid, Truffles, Veal Flank Steak, wine