Verses at Taste MTL 2012

Montreal is a culinary delight for any palate to enjoy.  And this year, the city hosted its first edition of Restaurant Week, named Taste MTL, from November 1st to 11th.  Like other major cities, Montreal Restaurant week featured countless top restaurant destinations at fixed prices for select menus. Every restaurant has menus at either 19$, 29$ or 39$, and most restaurants included a choice amongst appetizers, main meals and desserts. Go to http://www.tourisme-montreal.org/tastemtl/index-en.php for a list of participating restaurants, their prices and menus, and to make online reservations.

Make your reservations early! Many restaurants were fully booked on Thursdays when the Divas were making their reservations…and we HAD to go on a Thurday. The Divas opted to try out Verses, located in the same 19th century building as the Nelligan Hotel in the heart of Old Montreal.  We were greeted by a very gracious hostess who gave us the choice of sitting at a booth or a window table.  Big fans of people watching, we chose the window seat.  By Diva standards, the restaurant was too quiet.  The music was very low and other conversations could easily be heard; perhaps we showed up on a slow night.  The Divas do not like whispering. The exposed brick walls, large wine showcase across from the bar, and the relaxed atmosphere are all perfect elements for a business meeting. The Divas like a bit of bustle and drama on our Thursday nights but this is not the sort of place that you misbehave. Before ordering, we were served two tasty fried goat cheese and citrus balls, served on an elongated white plate with a monogrammed napkin.  Delicious little amuse bouche and a nice touch. We ordered one of our favourites, a 2009 Torres Gran Coronas red wine; we were happy to see this delicious Spanish wine on their impressive wine list.

Since it was Montreal Restaurant week, we went for the set menu at 39$/per person, although their regular menu warrants a possible return trip due to their interesting plates; such as roasted lavender duck, braised rabbit cannelloni, their foie gras tasting menu, etc. Although we stuck to the Taste Montreal menu, our waiter did manage to sell us on the Chef’s Soup of the day. All of the dishes on Verses’ Montreal Restaurant Week menu are also available on their usual dinner menu, so they are not specialty table d’hôte dishes. While waiting for our meal to begin, we dug into the bread and butter.  The bread was small ciabatta rolls, both white and brown, but they were a little dry, regardless of how much butter was slathered on.

The Chef’s soup was a cauliflower soup with smoked tomatoes and parmesan. Though it wasn’t the warmest of soups, it was definitely tasty.  It was pureed as opposed to being a cream-based soup, and the smoked tomatoes added a nice touch of acidity, and their smokey flavour and the parmesan really came through. It was a delicious soup and it could only have been improved upon if it were warmer.

Soup of the Day: potage à choufleur et tomates fumé avec parmesan $7

The two appetizers on the set menu were a smoked bison tartare and a gourmet salad with foie gras; the Divas ordered both!  The bison tartare has to be one of the best tartares the Divas have had and we eat plenty of raw meat. The smoky flavour really came through and while bison is generally a lean meat, the meat was supple and blended with an onion compote that was not overpowering. Often times it is difficult to distinguish between beef tartare and bison tartare, this bison meat was clearly not beef.  It was served with mixed root vegetable chips, which is a nice change to the usual plain cracker and the unique flavour of each chip complimented the tartare.

“Smoked bison tartare, crispy root vegetables, spice onion marmalade” 10$

The gourmet salad with foie gras was lovely. The crisp greens, which included celery leaves, were tossed in a creamy honey vinaigrette. The foie gras torchon was perfection and served alongside the salad. The foie gras was thinly sliced, and there were slices of red beets scattered on the plate with candied pecans and a purée drizzled with truffle oil.  The menu described apples in this dish but the Divas did not taste any, though that did not diminish this dish.

“Gourmet salad, foie gras torchon, truffled celeriac purée, apple, beets, honey vinaigrette” 12$

The two main dishes offered by Verses for Montreal restaurant week included truffle-crusted beef tenderloin, and a surf and turf plate. The truffle-crusted beef filet was cooked to a perfect medium-rare, the only way to eat meat, according to Diva standards. This was served with both Anna potatoes and a mix of seasonal vegetables drizzled in a Madeira sauce.  The sauce was spectacular and definitely dunk-worthy, and the vegetables were tender and fresh-tasting. The carrots were flavourful, the asparagus rich and the meat was tender and its portion large.  The potatoes were thinly sliced, and stacked and cut as if from a pie. They too were perfectly cooked but the sauce is what truly came true, the Divas love French food and their fancy sauces!

“Truffle crusted beef tenderloin with Anna potatoes, seasonal vegetables and Madeira sauce” 38$

According to the Montreal Restaurant Week website, originally the surf and turf dish was supposed to be a mix of monkfish and sweet breads. When we arrived at Verses, the sweet breads were changed to duck confit.  The surf and turf dish was not something that the Divas would normally order, we are picky with our fish, but this dish sounded interesting. This dish consisted of duck confit rolled with monkfish. When we first read the dish’s description we expected the fish and duck to be side by side, not rolled together.  The monkfish was very meaty and flaky, and the fish was not overpowering, nor overcooked. Restaurants tend to overcook their fish; therefore the Divas often avoid fish to elude a disappointing meal. Unfortunately, the dish lacked enough duck confit to taste anything other than the monkfish. That being said, perhaps duck confit was not a good pairing with this fish because the taste did not come through. Nonetheless the fish was delicious.  The seasonal vegetables and the wild mushroom au jus were wonderful additions to this plate, especially paired with the parsnip purée that had hints of truffle oil.

“Surf & Turf: monkfish and duck confit, parsnip purée, glazed vegetables au jus, wild mushrooms and Swiss chard” 28$

Although we were full, dessert was soon on its way. The first dessert was fried Quebec apples with butterscotch.  These were absolutely delicious and tasted like a deep fried apple pie. The crust was crispy but not too thick and the apples were not too sweet, and had a bite too them.   We were surprised that we could easily taste the apples through the fried crust, and that the dessert was not greasy. Perhaps these apple fritters were coated in cereal before they were fried? The crust was unexplainably phenomenal. Thankfully the butterscotch sauce was not overly sweet but it did not stand out either.

“Fried Quebec apples with lightly salted butterscotch sauce” 9$

The second dessert was a small variety of mini bite-size pastries served on a painter’s palate.  Out of the four on the plate, the mint chocolate macaron and the raspberry mousse topped with coulis stood out.  The brownie was nothing special unless you are impressed because it was served with some gold leaf on top, and the plain cake with pistachio crème didn’t really do anything for us. Either way these were fun mini pastries and a nice end to a rich meal.

“Tasting of Mini Pastries” 16$

All in all, the food was splendid and we would have rated it as such; however, the atmosphere was not something that the Divas can promote. It was very quiet, we spent most of the meal whispering, and in general the atmosphere was not Diva-esque; actually, it made us sleepy. Their regular menu did have some dishes that caught our eye, but if we go back we can only hope that the place is livelier and not so sedate.  Some may say that such an atmosphere is great for a date…but not any date that the Divas have been on, those tend to be rowdier. The food was lovely but this is not the sort of place for a night on the town.

Our Rating: Average

http://www.versesrestaurant.com/
Verses on Urbanspoon

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Comments: 7

  1. CARLA November 5, 2012 at 6:12 pm Reply

    Probably more my style, lo key. lol
    food looks good, will have to try it with hubby..Keep up the good work :)

  2. Dahlia November 5, 2012 at 6:25 pm Reply

    Great post girls! Maybe you’ll try another Taste of Montreal restaurant this week?

    Keep on eating for the good of mankind!

    Dahlia

  3. Food Divas November 5, 2012 at 6:34 pm Reply

    Not for the good of our hips!!!

  4. Marianna Boukas November 5, 2012 at 7:54 pm Reply

    Yummers!

    The descriptions of the food created a mouthwatering visual in my head but coupled with the photos makes me want to lick the screen. lol

    Who cares about the quiet atmosphere! The food looks fabulous!

    Come on Divas! I know that wherever you are, you can create a lively atmosphere just by entering the room, let alone what you can do when faced with the challenge of a quiet place. Hope you go back again and make the place rock and roll.

  5. A November 5, 2012 at 9:25 pm Reply

    Hello Divas,

    I must admit I’m a little disappointed with this week’s review, let me explain. You guys are being unfair to this restaurant just becasue the mood or atmosphere wasn’t “party-like”. I thought the Divas embodied class and sophistication when it came to Montreal’s finest cuisine…instead table-dancing and body shots seem to be the norm on Thursdays, right?

    Nevertheless, food-wise the article was an excellent take on a restaurant that seems to cater to a more mature audience and I’m pretty sure we’ve seen the last of Verses on this website.

    Please don’t take my comments too seriously, it’s just the feeling I got right away as I began to read the review. I guess not every restaurant caters to the homeless.

    Keep on being Divas!

    A

  6. Food Divas November 6, 2012 at 3:36 pm Reply

    Sorry to disappoint A. If you check out our “About Us” page we state that “our rating system will be based on décor, atmosphere, service, the quality of the ingredients and the originality of the menu.” We usually do not harp on atmosphere but we really felt isolated and quiet. Imagine if we were more than two people, it would have been even worse! The food was amazing, but we could not rate it any higher because you can get great food at other restaurants in Montreal AND great atmosphere. What would we rate those restaurants? We did not mean to stress that the atmosphere was not party like, actually we hate supper-clubs; we just didn’t feel relaxed. We felt like everyone could hear our conversation, the Divas like a night out that they won’t soon forget. Either way the food was excellent so we recommend it to anyone who prefers a quieter evening. We hope you go one day and prove us wrong, thanks for the comments! Love, Montreal Food Divas, xo

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