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Page history last edited by Mark P 13 years, 8 months ago

Background on Montreal Restaurants


As part of my trip to Montreal, I did much research via chowhound, Fodor's, Frommer's, Yahoo travel, and other web sites on good restaurants nearby. I knew I wanted to eat at places that I can't find back at home. That meant French bistros and nice bakeries. But it also meant so much more. I learned Montreal really was a good town for foodies, with countless other unique dining experiences with restaurants specializing in items ranging from fois gras and Montreal bagels to smoked meats and poutine. Even though I was in the city for five days, I could've easily filled many times more days than that with recommended restaurants.


Context for this Particular Restaurant


L'Express is commonly listed in guide books as a quintessential example of a Montreal/Parisian bistro. Since this was a class of restaurants I didn't want to miss, I decided to visit it on my first full day in the city.


L'Express Review


L'Express served us good desserts and otherwise decent but not notably good food. It certainly wasn't bad, but at a bit over C$30 per person, it convinced me that I could likely find cheaper and better places at which to eat in Montreal. Overall, my mom felt the meal was comparable to lunch at Le Commensal or would slightly prefer lunch. Dad liked dinner more.


The meal began with bread and pickles and mustard. All were just okay.


One appetizer we shared was the fish soup, a light bisque. It came with toasted, cheesy garlic bread that my mom liked. Also on the plate was a mustard aioli (or something) -- we weren't sure what to do with it.


A warm goat cheese salad served as our other appetizer. The presentation wasn't what we expected. If you look at the picture, I'm sure you'll agree. The goat cheese -a huge amount- arrived on okay toasted bread; a salad stood on the side. It was reasonable quality goat cheese. I found, like usual for me, a little goat cheese goes a long way. We definitely enjoyed the vinaigrette on the salad. Also, something about the dish made me write down "olive with bad aftertaste" but I cannot determine to what I was referring.


For main dishes, we had a respectable hangar steak with fries. It was the best of the three.


We also shared a fish almandine. My parents called this fine but not particularly good; they've certainly had better. I think their main complaint was that the little sauce didn't have any almond flavor. Rather, it was lemon, with almonds thrown on top of the fish.


Our final main dish, calf liver with tarragon, was a little more adventurous. Fragrant and served coated with bearnaise sauce, the downfall of the dish was the rubberiness of the liver. Still, the fries were good.


Desserts were the best part of the meal.


My mom took the simple route and ordered a truffle.


We also had an apple tart that didn't look like any apple tart I've seen. Look at the picture! It was fairly consistent texture throughout. I was happy that it had no sugary goo like most apply-pie-like things but was disappointed that there wasn't as much pastry to it as I'd like.


In addition, we shared a creme caramel topped with orange rind and basking in an orange sauce.


With dinner, we tried a Boreale Blonde. It was good: cidery, light like champagne, and with a little flavor of fruit.


L'Express feels special. The lack of a sign outside, except for its name expressed with tiles on the sidewalk, makes it feel like a secret.


Inside, the small, long, narrow dining room with closely placed tables, all crowded with diners, accentuates the effect. It provides a cozy feeling. The lighting and mirrors and tableclothes make it feel sophisticated but the table density ensures it doesn't feel overly so.


Service was slow but otherwise acceptable.

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