Whenever Diva #2 needs a break from the hustle and bustle of life she calls The Firm for a dose of calm and normalcy. Whether or not it’s the best idea to seek normalcy from a lawyer, well that is another question. They’ve been friends since the age of 5 so she’s heard it all!
We arrived at the restaurant located on St. Zotique Ouest in Mile-Ex and were seated at the bar. Sitting at the bar gives you a new perspective at any restaurant. You interact with the staff and the chefs, and at Manitoba, everyone is knowledgeable about the menu and more than happy to talk to you about the dishes and ingredients. You even get to peak into the kitchen!
We started with cocktails. First, the Gin and Jam, two of Diva #2’s favourite things in one! It was served in a tumbler with a spoon full of elderberry jam to mix into your cocktail. It turned the drink a light shade of violet and added a touch of sweetness to the overall drink that was well balanced with the tangy and fruity St-Germain. The Kentucky Julep did not skimp on the bourbon. It was soothing and warm, and it went down smooth.
We started the meal with fried caplins, a fish similar to smelts. It was perfectly fried so that the outside was crunchy but the inside remained moist and tender. The inside was dense with white granular beads, similar to caviar but grainier. Our curiosity was piqued and the chef was happy to explain that the inside was actually full of fish eggs as the fish are caught during mating season. The horseradish and coleslaw completed the dish by adding a bit of tanginess to the mellow fish.
The deer heart was something Diva #2 could not pass up. Diva #1 would have loved this! The plate itself looked like a piece of art and it tasted even better. The deer was velvety with a deep, rich flavour to match the deep burgundy colour of the meat. Each bite had a different texture, whether it was the creamy cauliflower purée, the fresh nibblets of corn, the scattered sunflower seeds or the vinegary green beans. The only way to describe this dish would be luscious!
Despite being in a restaurant that clearly used all parts of an animal, The Firm opted for the vegetarian spaghetti squash dish. This demonstrated the chefs’ culinary creativity and non-discriminatory ingenuity to food preparation. Just to make things clear, the Divas do discriminate… The squash was perfectly cooked and came off of the peel effortlessly, the brussel sprouts were cooked well and were well matched with the squash, the yogurt made the dish creamy and rich but was not heavy or overpowering, and the pumpkin seeds added the finishing touch, a nice little crunch to the soft and creamy vegetables.
The rabbit confit was outstanding. It sat on a bed of wild rice and red kidney beans which mixed perfectly with the just barely bursting roasted tomatoes. The sauce, which was a little bit tangy, accompanied the tender rabbit, which simply fell off the bone. The crisp layer of skin on the rabbit was slightly caramelized and added a little bit of necessary crunch.
We ended our perfect meal with their apple crisp. The apples were cut in wedges and not over cooked; they still had some bite. The homemade vanilla and sweetgale (herbal tea) ice cream was creamy but what really stood out in this dish was the cobbler topping which resembled a crumbled hearty granola bar. It was crunchy, salty and sweet, and had a certain spice in it that was comforting, as all apple pie-like desserts should be. We easily finished the dish despite saying we were too full from dinner.
Manitoba is almost like being invited over to someone’s house. The chefs interact with their guests, ask for feedback, and know their dishes and ingredients well. They share their passion with all who enter the small, off the beaten path restaurant with unparalleled charm. You can see the staff enjoying what they do and it translates onto the plate. Owners Elisabeth Cardin and Simon Cantin have a restaurant they can truly be proud of. Diva #2 will be back, but this time, with the now jealous Diva #1!
Our Rating: Always on Thursday
Tagged: 271 Rue Saint Zotique, Apple Crisp, Chalkboard Menu, Cocktails, Deer heart Gravlax, Elisabeth Cardin, Fried Caplins, Gravlax, H2V1A3, Homemade Ice Cream, Manitoba Montreal, Mile Ex, Montreal, Montreal Restaurant, Rabbit Confit, Restaurant Manitoba, Restaurant Manitoba Montreal, Simon Cantin, Spaghetti Squash, St-Zotique, Vegetarian