Before making our way to Scarlet Exclusive, the Divas had spent the evening at a restaurant event where they indulged in copious amounts of champagne, and not enough sustenance. We were tipsy, cheerful but we were hungry, and hungry sometimes turns into hangry…so we needed food quickly. One of the Foodie Guys had recently told us of a new restaurant in Old Montreal so we called him and went to try out the new Scarlet Exclusive.
Scarlet Exclusive sits on St. Paul West in Old Montreal and is the newest addition to the ever expanding Old Montreal restaurant scene. The décor is Baroque in style, ornate mirrors decorating the walls and grand chandeliers lighting the dining room, low lighting and a fabulous atmosphere. We settled in a cozy semi circle banquet booth. But the real prize is getting a seat on their fabulous courtyard terrasse, reminiscent of Miami terrasses with chill house music playing, with an outdoor bar under a canopy of plants, low purple lighting and a fabulous vibe. We have no doubt that this will be Old Montreal’s new relaxed hot spot, to see and be seen, all while sipping cocktails and enjoying spectacular Montreal summer nights. Since our dinner at Scarlet Exclusive, we have already been back twice for cocktails and the opportunity to lounge on their terrasse.
While waiting for one of the Foodie Guys to arrive, the less fearful one of the duo, the Divas joked amongst themselves that he wouldn’t know where to sit as there was a seat on either side of us. As predicted, when he arrived at the table, he stopped in his tracks, looked at both empty seats, and then at us, hoping to get an answer but we weren’t going to make it easy for him. He is our favourite of the Foodie Guys, even though we love teasing and abusing him.
He needed to catch up to our inebriated state so Diva #1 took control and ordered him a double gin and tonic. Thick, dazzling 1940s styled scotch glasses full of Hendrick’s gin soon arrived. No one likes the only sober person in the group; they are usually judgmental of the inebriated shenanigans surrounding them so we always do our best to make sure that everyone is equally intoxicated. We quickly studied the menu and in a rare moment we relinquished control, and actually let him order for us, though we made sure that we quipped in with our opinion every now and then.
The plates are all tapas style and meant to be shared. We started with three before ordering more. The least impressive dish was the octopus with potatoes. Maybe it’s because we were a table of two Italians and a Greek, and we’ve truly had really delicious octopus, so our expectations are higher than most. Sadly it was just meh. The octopus was tender but some pieces tasted mealy and though the menu said it was grilled, we didn’t taste any of the usual char flavour that comes from grilling. However, the acidity and saltiness of the tomato and caper chutney was well balanced with the octopus.
Not enough restaurants serve snails so whenever we see them on a menu we make sure to order them. Our waitress broke open the poached egg as she put the plate on the table before us. The snails were meaty as were the mixed mushrooms, and the egg yolk added richness to the dish. The spinach added an earthy component, though the smoked pancetta seemed to have been lost in the mix.
Next we had the pasta which had three options of indulgent add-ons, bottarga, black truffle or sturgeon caviar. We chose the bottarga on our Foodie Guy’s recommendation. Bottarga is salted cured fish roe and it was shaved onto the hot pasta. The pasta was lemony and garlicky and the egg yolk added a creamy texture in a carbonara fashion while the fish roe added the saltiness that is usually provided by a grated cheese.
During our dinner we got a call from Sensei which made us so giddy but alas he did not simply miss his favourite ladies, instead he called to yell at us. He was upset because earlier in the day he had emailed to tell us of Scarlet, and that night we had already made plans to go without him. We fear that another grey hair or 2 may have sprouted on his head because of us.
We had two more dishes, the first of which was the rabbit cannelloni. The dish was bland even though there were many elements like wild mushrooms and aged cheddar that usually stand out in a dish. The gorgonzola reduction is what made the dish. Each bite needed a little bit of sauce to add some creamy saltiness, or else the dish was lacking. We should have added a nice piece of pan seared foie gras that Scarlet Exclusive offers as a divine addition to any dish.
The last dish was the bison short ribs, which our waitress had recommended to us. The tender meat fell right off the bones. The bison meat was cooked perfectly, full of flavour with a deep, rich colouring probably from the black beer marinade. The short ribs sat on a bed of polenta that had a bit of a crust from the sundried tomatoes and a creamy interior. It was a hearty and satisfying dish.
The desserts looked intriguing so we did our duty and ordered three. Our least favourite was the rhum baba. The cake was dense and was not soaked in enough rum. Inside, the mascarpone crème was smooth but the orange flavour was not very present. The next two fared better. The decomposed cheesecake was ice cream-like, the graham crumbs on the bottom of the martini glass that it was served in and the strawberries compote added just the right amount of tart and sweetness. Our favourite was the lemon tart and if you love anything lemon like the Divas do, you’ll love this dessert. The crust was thick and the lemon filling was lemony enough to make you pucker your lips. We loved it! The gelato on top, though it was made with jalapeno, didn’t have a spicy kick to it at all; all we tasted was a lemony vanilla.
We’re not sure why but a waiter headed towards our table with three shot glasses on his tray. They were served with a wedge of lime and the Divas immediately feared tequila, with whom we’ve broken up with. It was a vodka rum shot but we had our fill of alcohol for the night and generously gave all three to our favourite Foodie Guy who was wishing that we weren’t in such a giving mood. We lingered a little longer until it was time to go home, as we all worked in the morning, the Divas at the office and the Foodie Guy had to make gelato at 6 am…don’t ask.
Foodie Guy kindly drove Diva #2 home, at the insistence of Diva #1 who is always looking for a new project to keep her amused. Scarlet Exclusive is new and has potential, sort of like our friend the Foodie Guy – the food is promising, the staff friendly, the décor inviting and their terrasse, absolutely amazing, it will be yet another place to linger with a drink during the summer months. But trust us, even if you’re not in the mood for dinner, show up at Scarlet Exclusive’s terrasse for the perfect chill night of cocktails and to enjoy Montreal’s fabulous night scene. We are sure that summer 2014 in Montreal will be all about Scarlet Exclusive.
Our Rating: As Expected
Tagged: 139 St. Paul West, Bison Short Ribs, Black Truffle, Bottarga, Caviar, Cheesecake, Clams, Cocktails, Courtyard Terrace, Duck Breast, Escargots, Esturgeon Caviar, foie gras, Garden, Gnocchi, Grilled Octopus, Guinea Hen, H2Y 3W2, Lemon Tart, Montreal Food, Montreal Restaurant, Old Montreal, Old Port, Pasta, Rabbit, Rhum Baba, Scallops Ceviche, Scarlet, Scarlet Exclusive Montreal, Scarlet Montreal, Scarlet Old Montreal, Scarlet St Paul, Short Rib, Small Plates, Snails, Swordfish Carpaccio, tapas, Terasse, terrace, Terrasse, Truffles, wine