December is a wildly busy month for restaurants, as coworkers try to end the year with a memorable outing together. Bring-your-own-wines seem to particularly flourish during this period; with the lure of forgoing alcohol markups likely appealing to penny pinchers and cash-strapped employers alike. This year, a colleague of mine chose Verdun's Wellington restaurant – named after the street it resides on – for our annual departmental dinner.
Opened in 2012, Wellington has earned a reputation among locals and critics as being a neighborhood bistro, although more polished than your typical BYOW. Tables run along both sides of a central row of banquettes in the bright interior featuring white walls and chalkboard menus. The dining room was half full for our six o'clock reservation, although it was not long before things got busy with every table getting nabbed by – you guessed it – large groups of coworkers.
The menu contains a handful of each of starters and main dishes with a table d'hôte option that adds an amuse-bouche, trou normand and dessert to the two courses. What comes out of the kitchen is standard but modernized and keenly-plated bistro fare.
A thin slice of cured salmon was boosted by a crunchy crumble, tangy goat cheese and sharp radish; tiny but delicious!
Briny whelk was a nice addition to this traditional soup, but I cared less for how the rouille was submerged and lost.
A scoop of grapefruit sorbet drenched in gin and topped with (I believe) candied kumquat was so bitter it did more of a palate destruction than cleansing.
Everything was executed perfectly – from the tender beef shoulder to the smooth roots puree and sweet cipollini onion – but alas the meat lacked flavour.
An impossibly-hard brownie finger sat next to shreds of parsley sponge cake which did nothing to save this dessert but add some fuss.
tagged: TABLE D'HÔTE
Our waitress for the night was friendly, knowledgeable and efficient; the same can be said of the whole staff tonight, which seemed on top of things during the wildly-busy dinner service. My only reproach relates to her describing the table d'hôte as a "five-course meal". Let's not kid ourselves; it would be a stretch to call two of these a "course". Yes there was no intent to misinform, but we were still misled.
tagged: HUSTLE & BUSTLE
The principals behind Wellington are no strangers to the BYOW business, with several fine-dining establishments under their belt – including the previously-reviewed Le Smoking Vallée. Personally, I enjoyed the sophisticated ambiance and soigné proposition; however, a couple of dishes fell anywhere between short and flat. To wrap up, Wellington is good for a BYOW, but given the price point – $54 to $60 for a prix-fixe menu – I was expecting better.
tagged: PLAN B.
Price per person: $56
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.