Montreal is a city full of gastronomic abundance. That is why this year’s Montreal en Lumière festival, celebrating its 15th year, chose Montreal as the city to highlight. One of the special events was a Veterans’ Lunch / Brunch des anciens combattants at Normand Laprise’s famed Toqué on Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle. He gathered former Toqué staff members, including Charles-Anotine Crête for his last service, to create a special set menu at 75$ a head.
Luckily for The Divas, our majestic Sensei has a soft spot for us. His friend had reservations and offered us a couple of spots. Unfortunately, Diva #1 couldn’t make it but Diva #2 promised to join Sensei and be on her best behavior, which she is better at when Diva #1 isn’t around. She joined Sensei, Mr. Old Fashioned and a now new food blog friend, The Sassy Foodophile who immediately loved Diva #2, much to Sensei’s dismay.
Led to our corner table, past the impressive glass-enclosed wine cellar, we were greeted by our waiter. There were two cocktails being offered, a blood orange mimosa or a maple and gin concoction. The mimosa was bright red and refreshing. The maple and gin cocktail was delicious, and not overly sweet or strong; perfect for early morning drinking.
The first course, prepared by Cheryl Johnson, wowed the table in both presentation and taste. Silver trays filled with ice were brought to the table, topped with delectable ocean creatures. There was a monkfish liver mousse on an airy rice cracker, very subtle in flavour and custard-like in texture. Scallops were sliced and presented on their shell with a thin slice of radish, foam and a mild tasting sauce that did not take away from the freshness of the scallops.
One of the favourites of the day was the sea urchin cream soup. Served in the spiny shell, a large piece of uni was at the bottom of the cool and creamy soup. Fabulous! The razor clams were a refreshing change, dressed with a red cabbage and apple slaw, the texture was similar to squid and slightly sweet tasting. In the middle of all this, a sorbet palate cleanser made with gin and herbs. Frozen alcohol? Perfection.
The next course, prepared by Mehdi Brunet Benkritly, was a trout tartare. The tartare was layered in between potato crêpes, which were a little salty. The wooden board was studded with caviar and decorated with hard boiled quail eggs with dollops of soy-flavoured mayonnaise and yogurt with lime, which lightened up each bite.
The third course was veal with a layer of potato, with a truffle purée, covering carrots, pearl onions, and mushrooms. Though the meat was initially tough to cut, which worried Diva #2, it was very tender when she tried it. The potato was light and creamy, and the dish was surrounded by an egg yolk to add richness, and that customary brunch element. Our sweet Sensei may know all about brunch, but the Divas know decadence, and Toqué certainly provides that.
The next course was the most playful – both in presentation and word play. The fried quail was served in containers with red and white checkered paper, with Chef stagiaire Guillaume Sylvestre’s face on the front, and a barbecue sauce on the side. It was served with a light salad of thinly shaved pork with radish, cucumbers, scallions and lots of cilantro in a tangerine vinaigrette. The quail, both legs and breasts, was very crispy and the meat very juicy as you cut into it or simply ate it with your hands…they provided wetnaps because we got messy.
Finally, dessert by Hugue Dufour, as what can only be described as exquisite. It was a cheesecake topped with flaky cinnamon brioche, lady fingers covered in chocolate, thick chocolate chip cookies that were a little tough around the edges but had a hint of chipotle, a caramel corn flake which was addictive and a white chocolate shaped pineapple with the most intense pineapple filling. Oh, and it was all topped off with a healthy dash of gold leaf. Our blood sugar levels were soaring, one of us quickly developed diabetes but we were in foodie heaven.
It was safe to say, a nap was in order. It’s also safe to say that our Sensei sprouted a few more gray hairs as Diva #2 and the Sassy Foodphile made plans for a dinner. Normand Laprise and his anciens combattants created a delicious menu and it was the perfect end to Crête’s 14 years at Toqué! The food was incredible, the company and new friends were superb, and Laprise showed us why Toqué! is one of Montreal’s gastronomical treasures.
Rating: Always on Thursdays
Tagged: 900 Jean-Paul-Riopelle, Brunch des anciens combattants, Charles-Anotine Crête, Cheesecake, Cheryl Johnson, Cocktails, Dessert, Fried Quail, Guillaume Sylvestre, H2Z 2B2, Hugue Dufour, Jean-Paul-Riopelle, Mehdi Brunet Benkritly, Montreal, Montreal en Lumière, Montreal en Lumière Toqué, Montreal Restaurant, Normand Laprise, Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle, Reservations Needed, Seafood, Seafood Platter, Tartare, Toqué, Toqué! Montreal, Toqué! Old Montreal, Trout Tartare, Veteran’s Lunch, wine