Le Smoking ValléePosted By Alex Chinien Jun 06 2012 · 0 comments · Dining Out, St Henri
We heard about Le Smoking Vallée through social media a few weeks ago and were intrigued by the buzz. What we have here is a real bring your own wine veteran Marc-André Paradis (Les Infidels, Mr. B, Les Heritiers, L’Emporte-Pièce), teaming up with some past collaborators and upstart 25 year old chef Thierry Dufour. All this in the context of St Henri on a stretch of Notre Dame that has been put on the essential culinary map by Tuck Shop.
We came into the experience with little background information but elevated expectations. This restaurant will evidently not be a secret for much longer, it appears to be completely full at all times (even on weeknights) and the crowd skews younger.
Beginning with a Gazpacho with feta and vermicelli cucumber and Carpaccio scallops with mango remoulade and green beans – we had our bottle of wine opened and took in the energy of the Friday night crowd. The Gazpacho was served with thick clumps of feta and thinly grated strings of cucumber – a light but savory way to start the night off. The Scallop carpaccio was a little disappointing. The taste of the scallops themselves was bland and even had an off-putting fishy taste and the sides did nothing to improve it.
Our main dishes were Beef Bavette with coleslaw and fries and Asparagus risotto with aged cheddar and cripsy pork flank – both recommended by our waitress. The beef bavette was well executed, well cooked and seasoned. The fries had smokey hickory flavor to them but it came off as dry and even over seasoned. The asparagus risotto was again, correctly executed but the dish seemed to do nothing to tie in the crispy pork flank. It seemed awkward and out of place sitting a top the risotto.
The star of the night ended up being the dessert, Cardamom cherry cheesecake mousse between sweet crackers. The cardamom and cherry was a delicious marriage and the mousse was whipped into a delightful light dessert that we would definitely order again.
Judging a BYOW spot is always difficult. Should it be held indiscriminately against it’s non-byow counterparts or given some leeway given the value you get from bringing a bottle of wine with you? Living in Montreal, you often hear the phrase, “It’s pretty good, for a byow”.
It’s difficult to say, so I’ll say this. Le Smoking Vallée is better than most byow restaurants, but also more expensive than most. It didn’t blow us away at all, but we can see some potential. Perhaps the menu has some growing to do.
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