Situated on a small quiet, Old Montreal street, L’Orignal was suggested to us by a friend, let’s call him Calvin for the sake of anonymity, who did not steer us wrong. Guarded by a heavy wooden door adorned by a small, ornate head of a moose, we walked in to what felt like a cozy cabin. As you go down the stairs you enter a dimly lit restaurant with a typewriter and lobster trap at the entrance. This would be a great place to go on a date. It was not too loud but full, this is not somewhere you would try to go without a reservation.
We were immediately greeted by the host who directed us to the bar while they cleared our table. We ordered our cocktails from their chalkboard menu above the bar; one of our selections was the Voyager which was a combination of Bombay gin, red grapefruit juice and simple syrup with a wedge of lime; definitely an adult-type lemonade. We also ordered one Bloody Caesar with 2 different oysters – which, incidentally, this restaurant is known for. Usually seafood Caesars only come with one oyster, it was a rare treat to enjoy two.
Once seated at our booth, we were served warm, crusty bread and butter, enough to quell our appetites while reading over the menu and deciding on which appetizers to start our dinner with. We settled on the spicy tuna tartare with avocado, green onion and a ginger and tobiko emulsion.
The tuna tartare is known as a house favorite and it was delicious which just enough avocado to not be over powering. There was only one cracker provided but the tartare stood on its own, and we were soon eating it without the usual cracker/bread accompaniment.
Our second appetizer was the bison and foie gras meatballs, with hummus, pearl onions and red pepper salsa with Bellavitano shavings and a red pepper caramel sauce. They were delicious and we asked for more bread to enjoy the flavourful sauce. Tartare is available throughout the city but bison foie gras meatballs are not, we did not regret ordering this appetizer.
We then enjoyed our mains, and while the restaurant is known for having game meats, and they do, they offer something for everyone’s taste.
We ordered what our waitress called a “classic”, the bison osso bucco, with quinoa root vegetable confit, brussel sprouts, and a “charcuterie” sauce and, since we were at L’Orignal, the grilled elk steak, on a bed of flageolets, chorizo and mini bok choy, with a grand veneur sauce, and a wild mushroom and bacon salsa.
The osso bucco fell off the bone with a good amount of bone marrow. Often osso bucco has less bone marrow than one would desire but this particular plate did not lack in marrow. The meat had a caramelized crust which was just sweet enough to balance the lean bison meat and the vegetables were a great side dish to such a rich plate.
The elk steak was cooked to perfection – perfectly rare and tender. We had never tried elk before and we feared that it would be too gamey, but it was better than filet mignon, hands down. We tend to hold filet mignon as our favorite in comparison to other cuts. Both plates were delicious and we would recommend them to foodies who are picky about their meat.
The wine list was impressive, extensive for what would be considered a small restaurant and many regions were covered such as Oregon and other less known wine cities. We tend to favor red wine and opted for a 2009 Bordeaux. The waitress could not find our wine in the cellar and we were upgraded to a 2005 Chateau Segonzac Bordeaux, a significant upgrade from our initial choice. We were definitely happy with our waitress!
Dessert came with three options; orange and vanilla crème brulée, a homemade Joe Louis with a chocolate mousse and custard filling, and bread pudding. We choose the orange and vanilla crème brulée – delicious but as good as the usual French crème brulée variety, nothing stood out.
Another successful Thursday night where the food divas go to bed full and happy, we will definitely take more recommendations from Calvin 😉
Our Rating: Always on Thursdays