If you’re a foodie in Montreal you’re familiar with the many French bistros all across our city. The Divas are rarely recommended a place that they have never even heard of but this city is full hidden gems and surprises. When the geniuses behind Montreall.com planned a dinner with Sweet Pea, their editor-in-chief, Diva#1 was happy to be invited along! The Divas had never heard of Le Valois, a French bistro in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve area of the city, but after tasting their diverse menu, heavy on French classics, but with a modern flair, we were eager to show our love for this bistro!
Rich dark wood paneling, stained glass art déco décor, and a large terrace are all part of the Le Valois charm. We were greeted by our helpful host and described the menu in detail. We even tried a few dishes that are going to appear on their summer menu but aren’t yet available.
We started with two of their tartare dishes which you can order as appetizers, or as main dishes with fries or salad. We enjoyed them as appetizers!
The beef tartare was made in a classic French style, was served with chips but the real treat was the mushroom mayonnaise that it came with. It was delicious and it added a whole new creamy dimension to traditional French beef tartare.
The salmon tartare was made with fresh herbs and it was very refreshing. Basil infused olive oil was pooled next to the tartare for dipping. The tartare itself was topped with cucumbers, razor thin radish slivers and greens. But if you are choosing a raw salmon dish, we would opt for Le Valois’ salmon gravlax which will be showing up on their summer menu. A generous amount of salmon gravlax with a dill infused crème fraîche made for a delicious appetizer.
The endive salad was impressive and the plating was attractive. Shredded endives with a generous amount of Bleu d’Elizabeth cheese, apples, walnuts and creamy vinaigrette made for a complex salad. The menu at Le Valois is very intriguing and we would have probably never ordered this dish on our own but we are certainly glad that it was recommended.
Our favourite appetizer of the night was the cassolette with snails and oyster mushrooms. This dish is also available without the snails as a vegetarian option. The escargots and oyster mushrooms were baked in a cheesy concoction with chives. Served alongside grilled baguette with a touch of bruschetta, this dish was absolutely mouth-watering. The escargots and the oyster mushrooms had a similar texture, and the creamy cheese sauce that it was baked in was perfection for cheese lovers. It was prepared au gratin but still creamy!
Once again we were not drawn to this particular dish because shrimp tempura sounds rather boring! The batter is usually too thick and overpowers the taste of the shrimp. Le Valois did not have this problem as the batter was very light and the shrimps were bigger than expected. Three to an order, it was a nice dish if someone does not want an overcomplicated appetizer, but more of an amuse bouche. The dish came with a lobster mayonnaise that made for a delicious dipping sauce.
A delicious vegetarian option is the ravioli stuffed with artichokes and tomato chutney. A goat cheese emulsion was liquefied with cream and topped the ravioli, as well as crisp arugula. It was an interesting combination of flavours. The ravioli were not immersed with sauce so you really tasted the artichoke in each bite.
Sweet Pea loves her coconut milk! Scallops and shrimp sat on a citrus polenta with a coconut milk mousse and ginger. This was the first of the main dishes that we received; this was not your typical French bistro fare. Aesthetically gorgeous, once again, this was the perfect summer dish, light but with a hint of creaminess from the coconut milk. The polenta was cooked to perfection and it wasn’t too dense!
The Stanstead rabbit with prosciutto was a serious dish! This multidimensional dish was complex – the rabbit was rolled with prosciutto, flavoured with rosemary and cooked to perfection. Basil and a tomato confit were lightly added to this dish as well as a delicious garlic purée that was not overpowering in the least. An au jus sauce made with the rabbit meat was lightly pooled below the rabbit, and broccoli and root vegetables were flawlessly prepared and presented with the dish. Chef Thomas Ginieis’ talent was showcased with this dish.
A French bistro classic, and not for the faint of heart, is boudin noir or black pudding. The boys were apprehensive about trying this dish but Diva #1 urged them on, she knew that it would be fantastic just by looking at the texture of the boudin. Made in house, the boudin was excellent. It was served next to a squash purée with the crispiest slice of bacon adding a new textural element to the smooth boudin and creamy squash purée. An au jus sauce pooled under the boudin and a buttery poached carrot added more flavour to this rich dish.
Another main dish that is not on their current menu but will be making an appearance in the summer is their duck confit. This is one of Diva#1’s favourite dishes, crispy skin but tender meat for a fabulous piece of duck. The picture doesn’t do it justice! Sitting on a bed of potatoes with a little bit of frisé greens, only a side of patate dauphinois would have brought this dish to the next level. But we’re gluttons like that!
We were too full for dessert but of course we had to try a few! With a long dessert menu, French desserts are often a big reason why people choose to go to French bistros. We ordered the rum baba, a cronut and the chocolate tart! The rum baba was exceptional, and it was served with whipped cream and berries. A rare sighting in restaurants is the cronut, this one was different from the norm, it was very dense and it did not have a filling. Again this was served with ice cream and a creamer of English cream was brought over to add at your discretion. The cronut was fantastic! The chocolate tart was very rich, served on top of a chocolate sauce, with dollops of cream on top. This was served with more ice cream and strawberries. These desserts could have rivaled any French bakery.
Le Valois has an exceptional terrace that seats around 100 people and faces the much quieter Simon Valois Pl, as opposed to Ontario, its busier cross street. With an intriguing brunch menu, and a separate dinner menu at 22$ after 9:30pm, Le Valois accommodates different budgets and tastes. We left bursting at the seams! From the ambiance, to the food, to the service, we were impressed and can’t wait to return to try their brunch.
Our Rating: Always on Thursdays
Tagged: 25 Simon Valois Pl, Beef Tartare, Boudin, Cronut, Duck, Duck Confit, Escargots, French Bistro, French Dessert, French Pastries, Gravlax, H1W 0A6, Le Valois, Le Valois Bistro, Le Valois Montreal, Montreal, Montreal Cronut, Montreal Food, Montreal French, Montreal Restaurant, Rabbit, Ravioli, Rum Baba, Salmon Gravlax, Salmon Tartare, Scallops, Shrimp, Shrimp Tempura, Snails, Steak, Tartare, terrace, Thomas Ginieis, Vegetarian