For years I had been hearing about Bouillon Bilk, an acclaimed under-the-radar restaurant bizarrely situated along Saint Laurent Boulevard's unsavory stretch between de Maisonneuve and Sherbrooke. I gave it a shot a few years back and concurred; the modern French fare prepared by chef François Nadon was spectacular.
Word followed in early 2016 of a second, more casual eatery by the discreet chef just one block up The Main. Critics were quick to give Cadet their seal of approval, which piqued my interest enough to send me here on this cold, January date night.
Without so much as a sign or logo out front, the only proof of this hidden gem's existence is the packed dining room one can discern through the streetside windows – how reminiscent of Bouillon Bilk's early days. The sleek, handsome dining room welcomed pack after pack of (mostly) French-speaking diners, with tables filling well into the night.
Cadet's menu falls into that difficult-to-narrow-down category comprised of market cuisine tinged with Mediterranean and Asian influences, served tapas style. Instead of starters and mains, sections include veggies, seafood and meats.
Plates – and wines – are remarkably affordable and small in size. Fret not however; almost every dish is served accompanied or topped with a rich sauce, so you will get your fill.
Beautifully-grilled crust with a spongy interior; perfect for dipping in the accompanying spicy oil.
Deliciously-buttery ratte potato fries drizzled in unctuous mayonnaise with an unnoticeable hint of chimichurri.
Not too sure what's going on here, but the small florets were lost in the jumble of labneh and unidentifiable foodstuffs.
Unbelievably-fluffy cod fritters in a moist, crispy casing with spicy mayo atop a bed of crunchy cabbage; delish!
Charred chicken thighs topped with peanuts and scallions, served on a rich piri piri reduction of sorts; a steal for ten bucks!
A handful of clams hid tender bites of veal flank imbibed in a creamy, decadent sauce, garnished with tomatoes and coriander.
Amid the hustle and bustle of what was undoubtedly a busy night, the entire staff took good care of us. Our choice of table by the window was immediately accommodated by the hostess, and our waitress was equally commendable. Specials were explained with ease, assistance was provided with the choice of wine, and groups of plates arrived in a timely manner.
If there's one restaurant that nabs the petits-plats-à-partager formula, it's Cadet. I cannot recall the last time I paid so little while eating this well and feeling stuffed on top. Chef Nadon and company's budget-friendly, casual-yet-soigné fare adds another winner for the group.
Go ahead and sauce it up!
Price per person: $23.67
Montreal restaurant and bar reviews brought to you by two regular guys who like to eat and drink. We will go anywhere and we will say it like it is.