Disclaimer: This meal was comped.
For those of you that follow us on social media, you may have noticed our excessive use of the hashtags #MTLaTABLE and #PressTrip lately. Fret not, for today we will shed light on what went down. In a nutshell, Tourisme Montreal paired us up with Toronto blogger Girl About Toronto to spend the better part of the day with chef Guillaume Cantin from Les 400 Coups, a participant in this year’s MTLàTABLE.
We met up with Guillaume, the winner of Les Chefs!’s first season, in his neighborhood of Villeray, where he usually starts his day. After quick stops at boulangerie Le Pain dans les Voiles and Café Larue & fils, Guillaume took us on a tour of Marché Jean-Talon, picking up whatever was missing for tonight’s dinner service from his favorite farmer stalls and suppliers.
At this point, we went our separate ways to partake in other activities scheduled for our press trip; namely lunch at Bar Bounya, which we already covered, followed by a private first look at Les 7 doigts de la main’s new circus number, Cuisine & confessions, at TOHU. Premiering October 30, the piece tells a story through choreographed cooking and acrobatics set against the iconic family kitchen.
We then reunited with Guillaume at his Old Montreal restaurant in the afternoon, where prepping for the dinner service was in full effect. The beautiful, contemporary interior boasts an immense canvass of a Paris cityscape, a white marble bar with towering shelves and a see-through kitchen.
There is an evident sense of organization and camaraderie among the diverse crew, judging from the staff briefing, lunch and prepping we were fortunate enough to witness. Our next order of business was to enter the busy kitchen where the magic happens…
With "buying local" a driving force behind Les 400 Coup's rationale, Guillaume introduced us to an assortment of exotic Quebec flavors and aromas he likes to work with; wintergreen, cabbage rose petals and ox-eye daisy capers (say what?) to name a few. He next proceeded with demonstrating the elaborate, painstaking preparation of the catfish main course he created for this year's MTLàTABLE menu.
By now our mouths were watering from everything we've seen, so we were finally seated for what turned out to be a five-course feast of refined, beautifully plated yet somehow accessible dishes, each paired up with a different French wine (and a Quebec cider for the pre-dessert).
"buffalo milk mozzarella, black walnuts, celery, concord grape & apple chutney, homemade grape vinegar"
"peach puree, oat crumble, honey jelly, celery"
"smoked bison, wild blueberries, mustard, wintergreen powder"
"sweet pepper puree, cherry tomatoes, radish, buttermilk foam"
"buckwheat, cauliflower puree & couscous, marinated cucumber, capers, romaine lettuce cream, caraway"
"white beet puree, sliced yellow beets, smoked potatoes, dill"
"sunflower, crispy meringue, melon sorbet"
"peanuts, caramel, concord grape sorbet"
tagged: FEAST FOR THE EYES
A part of the MTL Cuisine collection, and arguably their most acclaimed possession, Les 400 Coups was probably named after the eponymous 1950s movie, a defining film of the French New Wave movement. Whether or not there was an attempt to draw a culinary analogy with the choice of name, there is no denying the talent, innovation and passion at work here.
Finally, we regret not having tried Les 400 Coups under the founding duo of Marc-André Jetté and Patrice Demers. Having said that, we feel confident the restaurant's future is in good hands with Guillaume at the helm.
We would like to thank Tourisme Montreal for this opportunity. If you still haven't booked a table for MTLàTABLE this year, what are you waiting for?
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.