Les Deux Singes de Montarvie MontrealMar 25 2012 · 0 comments · Dining Out, Mile End
Several weeks ago, I had the absolute pleasure of accompanying a friend and a classmate to Les Deux Singes de Montarvie for a tasting. The distinctive restaurant name immediately intrigued me. Nada, the current owner of the place explained the story behind the unique name: the original founder of the restaurant, Merlin Lambert, had previously traveled around the world by bicycle and upon arriving in the region of Montarvie in France, had the opportunity to stay with a family who owned two friendly monkeys. After spending some time with the creatures and establishing a relationship, he decided to name his restaurant after his extraordinary experience there when he arrived back in Montreal. Surreal, right?
From the moment you set foot into this restaurant, there is an almost tangible sense of intimacy and charm. Dimly lit by beautiful vintage style glass lamps, the place is a sleek palette of dark and tan browns with the occasional burst of cool silver from stainless steel tools used in the open concept kitchen. Rectangular blackboards displaying the wine selection and the day’s specials line the upper walls, high ceilings and exposed brick walls secure its place in the trendy restaurant world. With a prominent display of x-ray photographs of a monkey’s head backlit by white light, the element of commemorating the namesake of the place is not forgotten.
Starting off with a glass of sauvignon semillon, we began with an amuse-bouche of a fried dumpling that came accompanied by a salty dark sauce. Following that, we had a beautifully plated carpaccio of red tuna à la Niçoise. Garnished with a heaping pile of colourful toppings, the raw meat underneath was hammered to a thin, tender texture that almost melted in your mouth it was so delicate. Needless to say, it disappeared faster that you could blink.
The caramelized endive salad over a goat cheese mousse with citrus suprême and roasted walnuts came to us next. The endive was the main player on the plate, lying overtop the majority of the other components. The sweetness deriving from the caramelization technique nicely balanced the salty flavours from the cheese, while the crunchiness of the walnuts and the tanginess of the citrus served as the fresh aspect, making the dish really ‘pop’.
The duck ravioli was placed on our table soon afterwards. Submerged in a thick, creamy Périgourdine sauce, the single ravioli hid at the bottom of the dish. Drizzled with a little bit of oil on top, this dish actually proved to be one of my favourites. It just tasted really, really good. Wrapping the duck in a warm embrace (literally), the ravioli tasted freshly made and was just delicious. With the option of ordering it as a starter or a main, I would be game to order this next time in the bigger portion. As a side note, Nada also mentioned this was one of their most popular dishes.
Starting on our mains, we switched over to red with a heady glass of red Chinon to ease us into the next three courses to come. The veal sweetbreads were topped with a shallot and oyster mushroom sauce and were luscious and velvety, like sweetbreads often are. Silky smooth, the soft and tender meat was served in a relatively generous sized portion. This isn’t to say we didn’t finish everything, because you know we did.
The lobster sausage is a dish that I’d been hearing about from my friend – her most anticipated of the evening. I liked it – it was something that was unusual and different. I can’t say that I’ve had the same thing before anywhere else. I did find that it was a little salty after eating the entirety of the dish. A couple slices and it was smooth sailing but by the end, I felt as if the saltiness was a bit overwhelming for me. On the other hand, my friend adored it so depending on your tolerance/enjoyment level of saltiness, you may or may not feel the same.
Finishing our meal off, we had the beef bavette, served with a potato rosti and spagetti squash purée. Definitely one of the heartier dishes of the evening, this dish represented the peak of the entire meal. If we weren’t full yet, this one would have done us in. Note: we were. But in times like these, you learn to expand your stomach, suck it in and make room for more food – you just find space that you didn’t even know existed in you. Either that or refuse perfectly amazing food… which isn’t an option.
For dessert, we had a creme brûlée along with a chocolate ganache – super sweet and rich and decadent. The pastry chef previously worked at Queue de Cheval – his experience in the department really shined through. I have to say that the plating here is exceptional. Everything was artfully presented and executed with obvious care and precision. Even if you just glance over the thumbnails below, I think you can probably see what I’m talking about. The elements on almost every dish seemed to just work – there was a natural pairing of ingredients that created flavourful and interesting dishes.
The service is discreet and friendly. The servers know exactly what they’re doing – rest assured you’re in good hands here. Keeping a good eye on the pace of your meal, the timing of the dishes is quite flawless. Everyone here seems to know their stuff – when asked about the menu, there is no hesitation in the explanation of the make-up or cooking methods of any dishes.
Tucked away in the depths of the Mile End, make sure to put Les Deux Singes de Montarvie on your list of restaurants to go to. This is one not to be missed.
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