The Divas are two single gals who love a bit of trouble but have not yet trapped men who can handle them, although we have been driving around with some chloroform and rope in the trunk of Diva #1’s car…but the men always escape our hunt. But this is not a sad tale about love that was lost, but a story about good friends who, when properly inebriated, could learn to love this commercial holiday.
In early January the Divas were already hearing the lovers and haters gushing or complaining about Valentine’s Day. This year it fell on a Thursday (much to our chagrin), which meant that the Divas had to join the masses of couples looking to celebrate their love. So Diva #1 looked at Diva #2 and we decided to book an anti V-Day Thursday night (since it is our night) with all of the haters. Bellatrix wasn’t invited, although she is a bitch 99.9% of the year, she had decided that this wonderful holiday is a holy day and had carefully planned a night with her mate that included roses, chocolates, dinner and love…hopefully some loving too. Zeus was in LA blowing the clarinet across California and Hera (his girlfriend) had a date… we won’t even get started on Calvin. So we called up Vegan Vixen and our Sensei, the official Montreal Brunch and Breakfast Review, who taught us the art of food blogging, and out we went for a night of bitching and drinking in pursuit of the perfect Anti V-Day night.
We decided to choose what we consider one of the more romantic restaurants in Montreal. Any gal would love it if her gentleman took her to Leméac for a night of sharing dreams of the future and a lot of sighing and looking into each other’s eyes. You know, the shit couples do or want you to think that they do. All the Divas see is a commercial holiday that puts a lot of pressure on men and usually, even though some of them actually put in the effort, women end up disappointed.
We had been to Leméac a few times and were eager to enjoy some fine French food coupled with lots of Bordeaux wine. Leméac is beautiful, a coat check is in the front of the restaurant, their terrace is sheltered in a solarium and available all year long, their beautiful large windows face Laurier and though their restaurant is fairly large, it is usually packed and a reservation is required.
We were quickly seated, our Bordeaux wine on the table and we planned what appetizers to order. Diva #1 was adamant to try the homemade blood pudding that was served with a delicious celery root purée and drizzled with cider sauce. The dish was unique and the blood pudding was very tasty, especially coupled with the cider sauce.
Our sensei ordered the smoked herring and we are really glad that he did! This is a not a dish that the Divas would have ordered, not particularly fans of smoked herring, though we were curious to try it. This is not something that you see on French bistro menus and it was tasty and not overly salty as smoked herring often gets. It was not even as fishy as we expected and it is generally a fish with a strong taste.
Since we were at a French restaurant we opted for the beef tartare that was served with matchstick potatoes, although we had the choice between cut fries, salad or green beans. The tartare was very fresh and well-seasoned, nothing too fancy but just what you would expect from a French restaurant. It was not a huge appetizer but it came with a side so we were happy. Last time we had tried their salmon tartare with truffle oil that was equally good but nothing mind blowing. Next time we would also be eager to try their crab cakes which have always caught our eye but we never end up ordering. When we think of crab cakes we think of the American coastal cities but we are eager to try a French rendition of the dish.
Vegan Vixen decided that snails were not high on her list of animals that she loved petting so she ordered the escargots. This dish had caught Diva #1’s eye because escargots are usually served in the traditional garlic butter sauce or au gratin. This wonderful little appetizer was served with portabella mushrooms and tomato ragout with a whipped basil butter sauce. The whole appetizer looked like it was resting on a cloud of basil butter, beautiful and delicious. The portion was large and there were little macaronis under the escargots, portabella and tomato mixture which seemed odd but was great with the buttery sauce. Quite a rich dish.
At this point we were merrily drinking and introducing our sensei to the Divas on Thursday nights. We were soon ordering our second bottle and Diva #1 was regretting that she was the designated driver.. Sensei ordered the calf liver that was delicately crusted with herbs that tasted predominantly of parsley and served on a potato puree. This is not the type of liver that your parents made, tough and overcooked with onions. This piece of liver was tender, the onions caramelized and thinly cut, and the entire combination of flavours was exquisite.
Diva #1 regretfully did not see her favourite Leméac dish on the menu, a delicious duck magret served with almonds and cherries. This season’s duck magret was served in an Asian style. The waiter asked us how we would like the duck meat cooked, which we are rarely asked and we were happy to note that it arrived at a perfect medium rare, as requested. The sweet and sour sauce was served with bok choy and shitake mushrooms. What was really interesting about this dish was that the ravioli were more like mini fried wontons that complimented the dish and were lovely with the sweet and sour sauce. We have never had duck in this manner and it was very enjoyable and original. Even the wasabi peas were a great addition that added spice to the dish.
Diva #2 enjoyed the duck leg confit and we can say with certainty that it was one of the better duck confits that we had. The duck leg was large, the roasted potatoes very flavourful and the meat crisp. This is a classic French dish that Leméac has perfected, although for originality sake we would opt for the roasted duck breast any day.
Vegan Vixen ordered the asparagus and wild mushrooms risotto. The dish tasted very good and it was creamy but the risotto had not been reduced enough and there was too much liquid left in the plate; the dish should have been a bit drier. Once again the mushrooms were delicious but the asparagus needed to be cooked more, some of the pieces were almost raw and too crunchy. This dish was our least favourite, we suppose risotto should be left to the Italians.
On our third bottle of Bordeaux, we started planning dessert. We came here knowing that we wanted to finish our night with their infamous French toast and banana and dates sticky toffee pudding. When the beautiful French toast arrived at the table, tall, moist and filled with wonderful maple caramel topping we all appropriately ooed and ahhh-ed. Leméac is famous for this dish and we could understand why; we have been dreaming of this dish since the last time we had it last year. The wonderful milk jam ice cream slightly melted on top of the warm French toast only added to the experience. Who would have thought that French toast could taste so good?
The Divas also ordered the banana and dates sticky toffee pudding. This too remains one of our favourite desserts at Leméac another wonderful combination of flavours that soon has you wishing for more. Had the French toast not been so marvelous, this would have quickly become our favourite dessert. Leméac has some of the most original desserts out of all the French restaurants that we have been to in Montreal, and we are never disappointed.
Our Sensei ordered the Manjarib chocolate tartelette topped with ginger ice cream. It was creamy, smooth and what you would expect from a chocolate tartelette. Leméac has perfected the more traditional desserts and invented new ones.
Vegan Vixen ordered the traditional vanilla crème brûlée that arrived with a biscotti. This dish had a perfect sugar crisp crust and wonderful creamy interior, everything that one would expect from a crème brûlée. Next time the Divas are also eager to try their coffee crème caramel.
Leméac also boasts a wonderful breakfast menu and an after 10pm menu which has some of their classic dishes and a few of their appetizers for 27$. Surprisingly, Leméac does not have a foie gras poêlé which they would probably have reinvented in a decadent fashion; something for them to think about. The Divas prefer late night dinners more than early morning breakfasts. Sometimes it is a hassle getting up for brunch but thankfully we have our Sensei who reviews breakfast, since the Divas are usually asleep way past the acceptable time for breakfast. See Montreal Breakfast Review’s post on Leméac: http://www.montrealbreakfastreview.com/lemeac.
If you would like an upscale French experience that is traditional, yet reinvented, try Leméac on Laurier. The crowd is older but the food is wonderful, the wine list extensive and the desserts decadent. We suppose that if we keep up our tradition and enjoy Anti V-Day nights with good company we can join the masses and learn to love Valentine’s Day. This is only the case with the right people, copious amounts of French wine, good food and dessert.
Our Rating: Splendid
Tagged: bistro, Blood Pudding, Blood Sausage, Bordeaux, Brunch, Chef Richard Bastien, Dessert, Duck, Escargots, French, French Toast, Herring, Late Night Menu, Laurier, Lemeac, Lemeac Café Bistrot, Liver, Magret de Carnard, Montreal, Mussels, Outremont, oysters, Pain Perdu, Pastries, Profiteroles, Reservations Needed, Risotto, Romantic, Scallops, Short Rib, Snails, Splendid, Steak Frites, Sticky Toffee Pudding, terrace, wine