The Divas were invited by L’Atelier d’Argentine to come to their restaurant and try out their menu. L’Atelier d’Argentine has been on our list of restaurants to visit in the OldPort but that list keeps growing and though we keep eating, it isn’t getting any shorter. We were intrigued by Argentinian food since that style of cuisine is rich in meat and the Divas love their red meat, especially when coupled with delicious chimichurri sauce.
Trying to find parking in Old Montreal is always a challenge and after a few blocks we decided to take advantage of the restaurants valet parking service. We walked in and were seated next to the DJ booth and bongo drums, and a large window overlooking the corner of Marguerite d’Youville in Old Montreal. L’Atelier d’Argentine is decorated in rich wood with eclectic lighting, an interesting modern fireplace, and a small lounge area across from the bar. The atmosphere was relaxed and chill – perfect for a night of great food and drinks. Though the atmosphere is relaxed, you can easily stay late, drinking and talking. Thankfully it is not too loud, you can easily carry on a conversation, and we were seated right near the instruments and DJ.
The restaurant’s manager, Alex, greeted us at our table. The Divas love homemade ice tea so we started with their Maté Lemonade, a home brewed tea mixed with rum, orange and lime juice, mint and spices. Served with a cinnamon stick and mint leaves, this ice tea was the perfect way to start our meal. It even intrigued the table next to us as they were curious about our drink and quickly ordered it for themselves. Diva #2 was weary that the cinnamon stick would be too much but the tea was crisp and cool, and very refreshing for a warm summer night.
We were given the choice of either ordering on our own or having L’Atelier d’Argentine choose our dishes for us. Being Divas, we had already scoped out the menu and we knew what we wanted so we compromised. We told Alex what we wanted to try, and he made a few additions and changes so that we truly saw what L’Atelier d’Argentine has to offer. We are not easy to please but we left L’Atelier d’Argentine quite content.
To start our meal, Alex paired our appetizers with a Torrontes Catena Alamos 2011 white wine. A very floral wine, it was a great pairing with the corvina crudo. The corvina crudo was dressed simply with lime and olive oil, and topped with an avocado, yellow pepper and red onion salad, with homemade chips nestled in the salad. This tender fish was not only light but extremely fresh. The avocado salad and their homemade chips blended well in both a mix of textures and flavours. For those of you dismayed by the inclusion of chipotle peppers, this was not a spicy appetizer at all.
This was followed up with empanadas, which we had not ordered but Alex had recommended. The empanadas were delicious with their crispy dough and wonderful fillings. The hand-carved beef with onions and smoked paprika was tender and full of flavour. The ham and provolone cheese had a nice smokey taste to it and the center was perfectly melted and hot. Our two favourites were the cheese empanada stuffed with fontina cheese and caramelized onions, and the sweet corn empanada. The cheese was perfectly melted and had a deep flavour that made us want more. The sweet corn was by far tops. The Divas just looked at one another and didn’t even have to say a word to know this was the best one on the plate. This is how corn should taste all the time.
We always like eating the foods that most people consider strange so the sweetbreads were an obvious choice for us. And definitely the best we’ve had so far. The texture was great and there was a slight charred taste. It was served with arugula and herbs that were simply dressed with lemon juice. Under the sweetbreads was the traditional Argentinian chimichurri sauce which complemented the offal. At the same time we were then brought warm buns with perfect little balls of butter, we did not want to fill up on bread but it was just so good and fresh that we could not resist.
Impressed with the appetizers, we were looking forward to our mains. Enjoying our white wine and the live music, the ambiance was wonderful. Alex asked if we had an idea of what we wanted as a main course, and we knew we wanted the Chilean sea bass and a steak, the choice of which cut of meat, we left up to him. We are such compliant ladies. We were intrigued by either the flank or skirt steak but we just could not decide!
The steak and fish came served on a thick wooden cutting board, with carrots cooked in butter in the middle, stacked like logs. This was also paired with a red Argentinian Malbec. The hangar steak was a nice surprise. It was cooked just how we wanted it – rare to medium rare. The Divas are not afraid of a little blood, especially if it is not our own! The meat was tender, juicy and packed with flavour and both the chimichurri and criolla sauce paired excellently with the large tender morsel. It was one juicy piece of meat!
Other red meat on the menu included filet mignon at 8, 10 or 12 oz, amongst others. For most of your red meat choices you could choose how many ounces you wanted. We were intrigued by a few side dishes such as the fries with garlic and parsley, the pumpkin purée with bacon, potato au gratin with goat cheese, etc. All their side dishes were 5.00$ but we were brought the herbed carrots poached in butter with garlic. The carrots were so tender you could cut them with a spoon and they melted in your mouth.
Besides a serving of red meat, we knew that we wanted to try the Chilean sea bass. It was wonderfully light and flaky with a seared top. Served with a mango, red bell pepper and arugula salad, this added a layer of freshness, lightness and it really livened up the fish. Diva #1 loves Chilean sea bass, and though every few years the fish slips onto the endangered species list, she ignores this fact and continues to order it when she sees it on menus. The fish itself tastes almost buttery, an amazing fish and only made better at L’Atelier d’Argentine with their fruity salsa like salad.
A meal isn’t complete without dessert and we had a dessert platter to enjoy, though it’s possible that we may have scared Alex because when he came to ask how we liked the dessert, our plate was almost empty. The dulce de leche stuffed crepes were overflowing with filling and sugar burnt bananas. Smooth, rich and surprisingly light, it was definitely satisfying. We were really expecting a much sweeter filling, since dulce de leche can become unbearable after a few bites. This stuffed crepe was not overly sweet and very delicious. The vanilla semifreddo that was served alongside was a nice cool and clean accompaniment, especially with the ripe strawberries scattered on the plate. The semifreddo was topped with graham crumbs and more dulce de leche.
The goat cheese cake was smooth and a nice change. Served with a rich cocoa crumble and quince in vanilla syrup, we really liked this unique dessert. You hardly ever see quince used in dishes and Diva #1 was happy to see it since her yiayia makes a delicious quince preserve every year.
We really enjoyed L’Atelier d’Argentine; the atmosphere is great – perfect for a dinner with friends or to celebrate on occasion – and the food, from their appetizers to their meats and dessert, was excellent. They also have an extensive cocktail list that the Divas will certainly be sampling in the near future at their upcoming 5 à 7 which will be starting in September of this year. If you’re looking for a great meal, check out L’Atelier d’Argentine, you won’t leave disappointed. The Divas certainly didn’t!
Our Rating: Always on Thursdays
Tagged: 355 Marguerite D'Youville, Always on Thursdays, Argentina, Beef, Brunch, Chilean Sea Bass, Chimichurri, Chorizo, Cocktails, Cornish hen, Crêpes, DJ, Dulce De Leche, Empanadas, Fish Crudo, Flan, Gazpacho, Goat Cheese Cake, H2Y 2C3, Hangar Steak, L'Atelier d'Argentine, L’Atelier d’Argentine Marguerite D'Youville, L’Atelier d’Argentine Montreal, L’Atelier d’Argentine Old Montreal, Lamb Chop, Latin American, Live Music, Lunch Special, Margaret d’Youville, Montreal, Montreal Restaurant, Natalia Machado, Octopus, Old Montreal, Old Port, Pork Belly, Reservations Needed, Steak, Sweetbreads, Trout, wine