***Sadly this Restaurant is Closed***
The Divas were excited to try out one of the newest restaurants to open in Montreal, especially after finding out that it was associated with L’Orignal and Le Gros Jambon, two of our favourite places. Magdalen is named after Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine (Magdalen islands) which most Quebec seafood comes from, so we expected to enjoy their seafood on this particular Thursday night, but we got distracted by other meaty delights
So the Divas made reservations for Magdalen, located in Old Montreal, on St. Jacques. The day before our reservations, Diva #2 spotted a tweet that easily decided how our night would start and end our meal; Beausoleil oysters were only $1.50 each the entire night until they ran out. Some quick texts to Diva #1 and Zeus confirmed our night would definitely include an obscene amount of one of our favourite culinary delights. Zeus was excited and already planning driving us around so that we could drink inappropriate amounts.
We walked up to the restaurant and were quickly greeted and seated towards the back at a semi banquet. A red studded leather banquet, distressed wood paneling and black and white checkered floors added to the ambiance of the small but very loud restaurant. More casual than L’Orignal, we were excited to try Monica and Travis Champion’s newest culinary adventure.
Our friendly waiter greeted us took our drink order. A refreshing mojito, an always satisfying Hendrick’s gin and tonic and a delicious Bloody Caesar with a celery salted rim were soon on our table. We also wasted no time getting our oyster fix and ordered two dozen right off the bat. They had warned us on Twitter that they could run out and we could not deal with that.
The mojito was perfect, the gin and tonic as expected and lovely but the bloody Caesar seemed small in comparison to what one tends to expect from this traditional cocktail. Our silver bucket of beautiful Beausoleil oysters soon arrived at our table with the usual oyster accompaniments: lemon wedges and a red onion vinaigrette. A nice little surprise was a wasabi flavoured sauce, which was too overpowering and we only tried once. The Divas and Zeus were actually quiet for once as we dug in and enjoyed every mouthful. We especially enjoyed Zeus’ idea of putting a little bit of his Bloody Ceasar on the oysters with a squeeze of lemon – divine! Our waiter came by to pick up the empty dishes and called us machines; a compliment in our books!
A second round of drinks were ordered as our appetizers arrived. We started with the beef tartare surf n’ turf style. The beef was presented as more of a flat disc, topped with watercress, lobster chunks, dill and radishes. It also included fried clams. The dish was delicious. The tartare was well seasoned and the clams added a nice crunch. The lobster was fresh and everything married well. We were happy with this different spin on a favourite Diva dish. The beef tartare did not particularly stand out on its own but once all of the Surf n’ Turf bells and whistles were added, it made for a great appetizer to enjoy with cocktails.
Our second appetizer was the sweetbreads, veal tongue and bone marrow custard. The Divas have a hard time resisting any of those three items on a menu, let alone paired together! The sweetbreads were crispy and didn’t have the usual spongy texture but they were not over battered. The tongue was sliced thin and really very good. It’s not the first time the Divas enjoy a little tongue! Everything combined in one bite with the cipollini onions, briny capers and bitter radicchio was really very nice. The bone marrow custard was the nicest surprise because the bone marrow flavour was evident and creamy and we were soon running our fork through the sauce and licking it clean.
The Divas and Zeus were busy chatting and drinking but our mains were taking some time. Finally, our waiter came to tell us that the delay was due to the fact that the kitchen thought our dishes were sent out and they had thrown away the paper order. As an apology, we were given a round of drinks on the house and we figured we might as well order another dozen oysters to tide us over! Just give the Divas a few great appetizers, oysters as a palate cleanser and cocktails or wine and we are pleasant ladies, well, perhaps the word ladies is a generous compliment (just ask Zeus!).
Oysters out of the way, our mains finally made their way to our table along with our side order of fries. We started with the pork heavy dish consisting of milk fed piglet, homemade ham, bacon and sausage, served on a round, slate-like dish. Garnished with roasted potatoes and mushrooms, the dish was very good. But out of everything on the plate, the star, or at least what the Divas couldn’t get enough of, was the sauce! Unfortunately, our bread supply was cut off since we were informed that they had run out of bread. The meats were juicy and flavourful. The homemade bacon made us happy and the dish was filling. Alas, something was missing, it was tasty but not the same as the meat dishes at L’Original that upon our first visit we could not stop drooling every time we thought of them. Magdalen was missing the wow factor that we were expecting from these owners.
Our second main that we shared was the duck à l’orange. Cooked perfectly, the duck itself was very delicious but unfortunately it was a little cold. Our only complaint is that the mandarin segments on the plate tasted like they were the ones in a can, not fresh slices of mandarin. Since we had also ordered duck à l’orange, we were not expecting mandarins and though tasty, it was not what we had anticipated. This dish was good but the duck tasted weak and the lack of a side dish made the meal seem like more of an appetizer, rather than a main dish. Compared to the pork plate, it was slim pickings.
On the other hand, the side order of fries was crazy good and the homemade ketchup was incredible. We’re glad we took the waiters advice on ordering this side dish.
Next was dessert. Our waiter told us the two choices: a homemade Oreo-type cookie or a pineapple and coconut sorbet dish. The Divas let Zeus make the decision this one time, and the pineapple and coconut sorbet was chosen. While the dish was refreshing, we were left somewhat disappointed. We weren’t crazy about the warm meringue-like foam and the pineapple seemed to be lacking something, perhaps some flambéing, and it left us wondering if we should have gone with the other option. However, the coconut sorbet was very good. All in all, the dessert lacked charm.
We are interested to return and try the foie gras (torchon or seared) appetizer with peanut butter and jelly, along with the charcuterie plate and more seafood including those very well priced oysters. We enjoyed our meal, particularly the appetizers, and our night, but we felt like there was something missing from it all. Maybe we were expecting great things because of the restaurants Magdalen is associated with. Maybe the delay in between our appetizers and main dishes affected our opinion. But definitely try it out for yourselves, we are sure this place will continue to surge in popularity and since they are a new restaurant we are sure that they will improve in the upcoming months.
Our Review: As Expected
Tagged: Beausoleil, Beef Tartare, Bone Marrow, Brunch, Charcuterie, Choucroute, Cocktails, Duck a L’Orange, foie gras, Homemade Ham, Îles-de-la-Madeleine, L'Orignal, Le Gros Jambon, Lunch, Magdalen, Magdalen Islands, Milk Fed Piglet, Monica, Montreal, Old Montreal, Oxtail, oysters, Sausage Stuffed Chicken Breast, Seafood, Short Ribs, St-Jacques, Surf n’ Turf, Sweetbreads, Travis Champion, Veal Tongue