Sunday, March 18, 2012

Montreal: An exploration of food: Part Two: Toque!

Wednesday was snowy in Montreal.  Thursday was rainy.  Friday was gray and drizzly. The weatherman had promised a warm-up and a glimpse of spring and we were impatient. So we were glad that we had long ago made lunch reservations for Toque! (900 Jean-Paul-Riopelle Place, Montreal) located across the street and small park from the Montreal Convention Center (Palais des Congres).

As we walked through drizzle and gray we were greeted by the welcoming beacon of the Toque! sign which seemed to promise felicity and spring.

Restaurant Toque!

The restaurant has tall ceilings, light colored woods, blues and earthtone colors and simple clean lines.  Floor to ceiling windows brought in delicious light from the outside and well modulated interior lighting provided complementary soft and warm light. The room is elegant without being stuffy.  Distance between tables is generous and interior noise levels were perfect.  As much as we love the hustle and bustle of a place like Joe Beef or Pied de Cochon, the fact is that Jerry doesn't hear that well (blame it on working around Navy aircraft long ago) and we often can't really hold a conversation at that type of restaurant.  So here we sat in a light-filled room with the pleasant hum of happy eaters and looking forward to a long chat and good food.

The Bar at Toque!

Toque! is owned by Christine Lamarche and Normand Laprise. The current chef is Charles-Antoine Crete. Much has been written about this team of "artists" as the Toque! website refers to them.  There have been many awards and stars.  Now it was our turn to see what all the fuss is about. 
Fortunately for us, the  food and service did not disappoint.  The flavors were...well...spring like.  Fresh, light and yet somehow complex, and perfectly seasoned. Our waiter and wait staff were very helpful.  For the first course (of the 2-course lunch): I had the cauliflower soup, a slightly richer version than we had at Joe Beef the night before).  I liked it very much.  Jerry had a lemon cream with salt cod on toast...see the picture was really, really good.  A delight to the eye and palate.

Lemon Cream and Salt Cod with radish and green magic (my words not Toque!)

For the main course, I had the skate fish which was perfectly was the first time I've eaten skate (a type of ray) and I love the firm texture and delicate taste.  Jerry had the flank steak...also perfectly prepared.

Flank Steak


Finally for dessert we shared a plate of "made just two minute ago" churros with chocolate dip and Illy coffee.   I'll never eat another churro in my life without comparing them to these (and I'm sure they will never match up).

Fresh, FRESH, Churros and chocolate      

All in all, it was a well-priced two course meal delivering fresh flavors on a cold gray day in a comfortable, light filled space.  What more could we ask for on a late winter day...except maybe that promised sun.

Restaurat Toque!
900 Place Jean Paul Riopelle, Montreal, QC H2Y 3X7 T:514-499-2084

1 comment:

Kim Smith said...

First of all, I love that, after 25 years of marriage, you still revel in the opportunity to have "a long chat" with your dear husband. Secondly, your photos are just gorgeous - you really do these dishes justice. Finally, next time you're visiting, I'll take you to Barrio for churros - I think they're amazing, & would be curious to know if they're close. Dang. Now I want churros...