The Divas had been hearing about Sel Gras for a while, but when Mr. Wonderful and the Foodie Guys both recommended it…well let’s just say that the Divas are suckers for good looking men with a love of food and Montreal restaurants. So in celebration of Peaches’ birthday we went to Sel Gras for dinner. Located in the Plateau, this fabulous spot on Saint-Laurent has a beautiful wall covered in windows facing the Main. We got to sit in front of one of these windows, people watching and enjoying the night.
The thick crusty country bread arrived with a good amount of butter. We decided to stick to wine and we asked our waiter to recommend a nice dry white wine. Of course we couldn’t keep it simple, and in between the first bottle of wine and the appetizers, we had already texted Zeus who was coming by with three other members of the Greek community. Zeus prefers to travel with his Greek disciples, and Diva #2 quickly ended up being the only non-Greek, known amongst the Greeks as a xeni. It is no wonder that we soon needed another bottle of wine … poor poor Diva #2!
We started with the red tuna tartare and as this delicious tuna tartare was placed before us we knew right away that we had seen it before. But we had never been to Sel Gras, so where? This delicious tuna tartare with avocado on tomato slices drizzled with a tobiko and ginger emulsion, was reminiscent of one of our favourite tartare dishes from L’ Orignal. It came as no surprise that when we spoke to our waitress she told us that the chef at Sel Gras had originally worked at L’ Orignal. As delicious as we remembered, the tuna tartare was delightful, our only complaint being that the brown pita wedge on top of the tartare was not only dry (and we already hate brown bread) but rather stale. Even the olive oil couldn’t help moisten the pita, which is unfortunate because the tartare dish itself was as splendid as we remembered.
Sticking to the raw theme we ordered the elk tataki on a vinegary cucumber remoulade. The elk tataki tasted perfectly gamey and fresh, tossed with raisins and roasted coconut; the combination offered both a variety of flavours and textures. The sweet and salty seasoning was divine, that coupled with the red wine syrup truly brought out the rich flavours in the meat. Once again, this too reminded us of our first Diva dinner at L’Orignal where we had first tried elk. L’Original was the first place that we had ever reviewed and we remember that fabulous meal with great fondness.
As per our tradition we ordered a dozen oysters in between our appetizers and main meals as a palate cleanser. Our dozen PEI oysters were meaty and fresh, full of their delicious salty liquid. The oysters arrived with lemon, a red wine mignonette, fresh horseradish and Tabasco. We finished them rather quickly; they went perfectly with our white wine. Our night continued and we began berating Zeus and his new vestal virgin. At random he shows up with the most innocent of women, doe eyed and lovely these vestal virgins always end up a little worse for wear after he is done with them.
Our waitress recommended the braised pork ribs, and we love a good recommendation from the house. The succulent meat arrived simply sliding off the bone. It sat on top of a mushroom purée with cauliflower and mini fingerling potatoes. The pork ribs were soaked in a delicious BBQ sauce with crispy smoky cheese curds topping the dish. It was the epitome of richness, easily our favourite dish of the night.
We wanted to enjoy a fish dish to compliment our braised pork ribs. We opted for the miso and tamari marinated black cod. This delicious dish arrived in a bowl, the cod was mixed with a parsnip purée and plenty of sautéed shiitake mushrooms. The mushrooms were not cut up finely so you enjoyed delicious meaty pieces of mushroom which enhanced the flaky cod. Julienned crispy pieces of potatoes topped this dish and the crunchiness added another textural element to the saucy dish. This dish was very different from the braised pork ribs in terms of the chef’s cooking style; it seems that he is quite a multidimensional chef.
By now, Zeus, his disciples and his vestal virgin had also begun drinking. We all decided to enjoy the many desserts and some Grand Marnier. The desserts weren’t as phenomenal as we had been expecting after such a grand meal. The brownie chunks with yogurt and a poached pear was interesting but not overtly impressive. The yogurt was tart which nicely countered the sweetness of the brownie but it was an odd combination with the poached pear. The crème brûlée with white chocolate was as expected, tasty and not too sweet, not that this is a complex dessert, but we were pleased.
The bola de Berlin which is basically a hole-less German-style doughnut wasn’t too shabby but once again, it didn’t wow us. Covered in chocolate with a strawberry cream stuffing, the doughnut was tasty and fresh, but not impressive. We should have ordered another main dish to share and skipped out on the desserts. The desserts change frequently as they were written on a chalkboard menu so perhaps we just came on a mediocre night.
Sel Gras was fabulous, the dishes were unique and the combination of flavours impressed us. We enjoyed our night there and we hate to say it but both Mr. Wonderful and the Foodie Guys were right to recommend the restaurant. And we really hate giving them any credit at all…
Our Rating : Splendid
Tagged: 5245 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Black Cod, Braised Pork Ribs, Elk Tataki, H2T 1S1, Mediterranean, Montreal, Montreal Restaurant, oysters, Plateau, Plateau Restaurant, Reservations Needed, Saint-Laurent, Sel Gras, Sel Gras Montreal, Tuna Tartare, wine