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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dinner at Le Garde Manger

I love the show Chuck's Day Off. It's a program on Foodtv Canada and I love Chuck Hughes' cooking, plus he is rather easy on the eyes which doesn't hurt. He also happens to have a restaurant in Old Montreal so I dragged my friend Roxy down there last Friday.

The restaurant is rather trendy. So trendy in fact that there isn't even a sign for it. It's like a speakeasy in the 1920', you just have to know that it is there. I had to double check the address to make sure we were at the right place.

You will all have to bear with my so-so pictures for this post. Shooting in the dark is not my forte and the only light in the place were little candles on each of the tables.

Please forgive the blurry pictures. I had a very off picture taking night.


To start off I had a lychee Martini which was excellent. I could have easily had a few more of these. It was actually my first time ordering one and I think it could become my go to drink when going out.

By this time I was ravenous. When the waitress brought out the bread basket I practically attacked it. There were different kinds of bread and a paprika, cream cheese and caramelized onion dip that was absolutely delicious. We actually went through the entire basket and asked for another one.


I ended up having salmon tartare for an appetizer. I wish the picture had come out better because it was amazing. The stuff on top is panko not coconut flakes which is what it looks like. The quality of the fish was extremely good considering we are in Montreal. The chunks of salmon had been tossed in a light citrusy vinaigrette along with fresh chives and green onions and at the base there were crunchy buttery croutons. The differing textures in the dish, the soft fish and the crisp croutons, were very interesting.

Roxy had the lobster salad. It was basically two lobster claws on a bed of lightly dressed greens with two giant onion rings. She said it tasted good but that the onion rings were not hot which was a disappointment as the differing temperatures would have made a good contrast.


This was my main course: lobster poutine. This was so good. The sauce was made from seafood stock and tasted like like a very rich bisque. My only qualm was that I didn't get enough sauce so I asked the waitress for more which they gave me with not qualms. I like my poutine practically drowning in sauce. The portions of lobster were very generous, in fact the portions were generous for everything. I didn't even end up finishing this course because it was rather big. I picked off all of the lobster and most of the cheese but left a lot of fries because I was so full.

This was Roxy's meal. Doesn't it look absolutely gorgeous? It was a duck magret (duck breast) in a port reduction with foie gras and fresh figs. There were also roasted potatoes lurking in there somewhere. She gave me some to try and it gave me a serious case of dish envy! Although I loved my poutine I was muttering "I should have ordered the duck" for the rest of the night. The magret was perfectly cooked. Roxy is as picky as I am about food and even she couldn't find anything bad to say about it. As she said the only improvement that could have been made would have been providing better knives to cut the meat.

By this point we were both stuffed with excellent food and alcohol. However, since we are dedicated foodies we decided we would make room for dessert and coffee. I ordered a latte which was good but could have been a trifle hotter. I liked the funky touch of serving it in a glass instead of a regulation ceramic mug. The temperature of some dishes was a problem though. When we first got to the restaurant we were the only ones there but by this time the place was packed and it seemed like the waitresses were having a hard time getting to everyone and serving tables as soon as their meals were ready.

Roxy and I decided to share two desserts. On top was a brownie with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream and on the bottom was a fried mars bar with vanilla ice cream. Seriously, dessert was the only let down of the meal. The vanilla ice cream was not very good quality and the mars bar and the brownie were barely warm. It kills the hot and cold combo when your dessert is room temperature. The brownie was ok. Not bad but not spectacular. Same thing with the mars bar. The breading was very thick, instead of being light like tempura batter which is what I was expecting. It wasn't bad. I just wasn't blown away. Well, I suppose all restaurants have to have their achilles heels. The reviews for the desserts that I had read were pretty good so I was a bit disappointed but maybe the guy in charge of desserts was having an off night.

Dinner set me back 82 bucks with tax and tip and considering how much food I had it wasn't bad at all. I would definitely go back eventually. The owner doesn't work Fridays and weekends so I suspect that the food and the service might be even better when he is around on weeknights. I am not sure if I would try dessert there again but the rest of the food was excellent and worth the price.
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