Opened in 2007, Vallier has that classic 1950s Parisian bistro charm, from its yellow neon sign, to its monogrammed wine glasses and warm wood interior. You walk into Vallier from the cold and you feel cozy and your mouth starts watering at the delectable aromas wafting throughout. The Divas have been here a few times and on each occasion, we have had a great experience. The Divas, Sweet Pea and Bellatrix walked into Vallier expecting the usual great night, but instead we were greeted with scrumptious surprises.
The best seats in the house are against the large picturesque window overlooking McGill Street in Old Montreal. In the summer, Vallier has a small terrace but this little bistro should be saved for the winter months with its rich food and warm colours. We started with a full bodied red wine, a 2009 California Cabernet Sauvignon, a delicious choice that quickly warmed us up on this cool, late Fall night. We sipped our wine in their monogrammed glasses and watched the people passing at our coveted window seat.
The menu at Vallier has changed since we last visited in July. Many dishes were added, but none removed. We started with the beef tartare that is available as an entrée or a main meal that is served with fries and/or salad. From our past visits we knew that we would not be disappointed with this ever so spicy beef tartare served with a giant caper. This is one of the best beef tartare dishes that we have ever had, we only regret that there are never enough craquelins and we always have to ask for more.
When Bellatrix sees mac n’ cheese on the menu she has to order it! In the past, we found the mac n’ cheese at Vallier to be rather dry and not cheesy enough. We had not ordered it in a while so we decided to give it another chance and were pleasantly surprised. I suppose with the new menu came a mastery of some of Vallier’s classics because this dish was creamy and cheesy. The lardons were plentiful and smokey and we quickly regretted not ordering a main meal of this dish.
Sweet Pea was feeling adventurous and ordered the pork rillettes, served with a delicious apple and raisin chutney. Rillettes is similar to pâté, it is spreadable and in this case, was served in a little mason jar, with croutons and a green salad. The pork rillettes were amazing on its own but phenomenal when coupled with the chutney that was decorated with pistachios and a gherkin.
The Divas were hungry and decided to order one more appetizer while we merrily drank our wine…by now we had ordered a second bottle, a Malbec, and were tipsily giddy while awaiting the arrival of Bellatrix’s mate. We ordered the grilled Spanish chorizo that was cooked to perfection and on top of a mini green salad with tomatoes. Diva #1 is very picky about her chorizo but this wonderful sausage was served with delicious Dijon mustard and we were soon polishing the plate.
Bellatrix’s mate arrived late and we urged him to order the salmon tartare. In the past whenever we have gone to Vallier, the beef tartare was always better than the salmon. That being said, since we were so pleasantly surprised with the mac n’ cheese, we felt that we had to give Vallier’s salmon tartare another chance. It was very fresh tasting, it was definitely improved upon and likely tossed in the same marinade as the beef tartare, but the beef tartare remains as our favourite amongst the two.
We were now ready to order our main meals. If you didn’t already notice, the Divas love their duck and Diva #2 loves Vallier’s shepherd pie duck confit served in a little cast iron pan; a staple from their previous menu. Diva #2 ordered this beautiful dish that has plenty of duck and though it is served with homemade fruit ketchup, we never touch it. That is only because the mashed potatoes are so creamy and the duck so flavourful that we do not want to miss out on this combination of tastes.
Diva #1 spotted a new item on the menu that sounded too good to pass up! The ravioli stuffed with portobellos, topped with a mound of pulled duck confit in a remarkable sauce made of duck juice and cream. We are sure that the ravioli were homemade from the way it was cut to the way it tasted. If that was not enough, the large portion of ravioli were topped with Parisian mushrooms, crisp green beans, arugula and generous amounts of parmesan shavings. We did not think that we would taste all the flavours that this dish promised but each one was there, and it made for a dish that has made us drool as we write about it.
Vallier’s menu is broken into various sections for their gourmandises, classiques du patron, bistro, burgers, etc. There is truly something for everyone. Bellatrix always enjoys Vallier’s classic burger with gruyère. The meat is tender and fresh, the grainy honey mayonnaise mustard is piquant, the cheese is properly aged, and the caramelized onions flavourful. The dish is served with a little tin cup of matchstick fries and a delicious house salad with a balsamic vinaigrette. The greens are crispy and the plate is full, and it left Bellatrix stuffed.
Sweet Pea ordered the wonderful grilled scallops served with a celeriac purée that we were tentative to try, but now we cannot stop raving about it. Almonds decorated this dish, grilled chorizo lay alongside the scallops and julienned Granny Smith apple pieces loomed vertically between the scallops. Yes the dish looks good, but trust us, it tastes better.
One thing that keeps bringing the Divas back to Vallier is their delicious pudding chômeur. A Quebec cabane à sucre specialty, this vanilla cake is topped with a maple syrup sugar crust and swimming in a maple cream. No matter how full we are we always order this dessert following our meal. One bite is all it takes to warm you up!
You would think that after a multitude of appetizers and heavy main meals we would order fewer desserts? When the waitress told us that the newly added bread pudding would take 10 minutes to prepare because the beautiful brioche was cooked on the spot… well the Divas could not say no. If you are craving a maple dessert, their pain perdu cannot rival their pudding chômeur but nonetheless it was a heavenly French toast-like dessert.
When the Divas read “best cheesecake in town” we scoffed and accepted the challenge before us. We love a good challenge and the chance to prove someone wrong. Unfortunately for us it was mind blowing cheesecake and we could not stop eating that damn salted butter caramel…Vallier wins again.
Bellatrix’s mate was craving ice cream and ordered the chocolate sundae. Who orders a sundae after the age of ten? He really enjoyed his dessert, although there was barely any chocolate sauce topping the soft serve vanilla ice cream. The waiter explained that the ice cream is made in house which was evident from its yellowish old fashioned colour to its soft consistency. Topped with whipped cream, strawberries and sugar cookies, this old fashioned sundae was reminiscent of a 1950s diner sundae.
Another fabulous dinner at Vallier! And though it’s a French restaurant, the prices are incredibly affordable for the quality and quantity that you get in return. If we would have reviewed this place last year we would have said that it was splendid. After returning and seeing how they have improved their existing dishes and added mouthwatering new items, they can only be rated as a spot that must be returned to on future Thursdays.
Our Rating: Always on Thursdays
Tagged: Always on Thursdays, bistro, Chorizo, Duck Confit, Hamburger, Homemade Ice Cream, Louis Morin, Mac n' Cheese, Maple, McGill, Montreal, Old Montreal, Paris, Pudding Chômeur, Reservations Needed, Shepherd’s pie, Tartare, Vallier, wine