Personally, MTL à Table (aka Montreal’s restaurant week) is the most anticipated week/event of the year! This year, I started off the week at Restaurant Manitoba. I’ve been there for brunch before the chef Chris Parasiuk departs. However, my friend and I are also looking forward to what the new chef Michael Dalla Libera has to offer.
Even though it’s quite far off in the Mile-Ex, just around the Little Italy, Restaurant Manitoba was packed at night. Without further due, let’s unfold the night.
Before the start of MTL à Table, the restaurant was under renovation, and reopened just few days before the event. The front of the restaurant is mainly bar-seat, while the tables are at the back. I really like the ambiance and the decor of the front of the restaurant. With the lights, it creates an aura and illusion of situating in a magical forest (just like the movie), which somewhat correspond with the wild, hunting aspects of Manitoba.
With an open kitchen, the restaurant can get quite smokey. However, I like when restaurant has open kitchen, because I can see what they are doing, and how my food are prepared.
Appetizer: Maple glazed duck hearts, fennel, mustard seeds, black walnuts, star ans, and plums – I had a sample of this during an event organized by Tourisme Montréal the night before, which I thought was a bit too salty. However, the balance of sweetness and saltiness was just right on the night of! Though it’s sweeter, but I prefer it that way. This dish did showcase the hunting, gamey side of the region.
Appetizer: Balsam fir fresh pasta, smoked sturgeon, brussel sprouts, leek – Since I got to try the duck hearts and the roasted cauliflower soup (another appetizer on the menu) the night before, I opted for the pasta as the chef suggested the night before. The pasta is in flat-gnocchi shape. The texture is chewy, and al dente! By just eating the pasta alone, I could actually taste the lemony flavor of the balsam fir. However, the brussels sprouts overpowered the balsam fir taste if eating them together.
Main: The three sisters (Kari and delicata squash, prairie rice, rye berries, white beans, pumpkin seeds, seabuckthorn) – This is an earthy, and hearty dish. The variety of pumpkins is perfect for fall as well. The portion was really generous that could be shared among two people. I really like the seasonings too. It was quite refreshing. However, since I only had two bites, I’m not sure if my feelings would be the same if I had the whole plate by myself.
Main: Seasonal seafood, sturgeon broth, smoked chili sauce, st-lawrence’s seaweed, kale – There are a lot of seafood in this plate! There are clams, mussels, a sardine, snow crabs, and sea snails. They were all fresh, which made the broth flavorful.
Dessert: Sunflower oil cake, ‘la pitoune’ cheese with honey, apple, and sumac – I really liked this dessert, though my friend said her brain is “confused” with all those flavors. This is a dessert for people who don’t have a really sweet tooth. The ‘la pitoune’ cheese, which kind of like goat cheese, attributes the savoriness to the cake. The combinations are really interesting. The honey is produced by their own bees! However, the cake was bit dried, but still within the acceptable range.
Dessert: Juniper and chocolate terrine, shortbread crumble, wild berry compote – Quality and presentation-wise, this chocolate terrine is better than the sunflower oil cake. The chocolate terrine was rich and intense. The texture was creamy and smooth. The juniper (the green thing) added a punch to the chocolate terrine, which was a bit spicy, yet refreshing. The wild berry compote was sweet-sour, which balanced out the sweetness from the chocolate.
Overall, the dinner did not disappoint, but it lacked a “wow” factor too. However, each dish was unique and flavorful. There wasn’t really anything that we did not like. The service was great. Our water was filled all the time, and the waitress was friendly. The menu is well-constructed, and I can feel that a lot of thoughts are put into it, as the chef tries to correspond the food to the theme.
Moreover, they have quite an extensive wine menu and cocktails. The restaurant is perfect for a night out with friends or family dinner. Though the noise-level could elevate that I felt like I need to raise my voice while I talk, but that’s the vibe!
MTL à Table begins on October 29th to November 8th, 2015. More than 150 participating restaurants and 11 days of food festivities in Montréal is an event that you do not want to miss! What’s more exciting about this year is that there are also brunches offer by some of the restaurants!
Stay tuned for my upcoming culinary experiences….
271 Rue Saint Zotique O, Montréal
p.s. Special shoutout to Kerrie from P’tite Cuisine for joining me under such short notice! ;)