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The Pitch

Nothing brings out the crowds like beautiful weather and deconfinement measures.  For a couple of weeks now, Montreal restaurants have enjoyed a renaissance, as patios have finally been authorized to welcome diners after 9 months of restrictions forcing them to rely on takeout only.

And boy are they busy!  Tables have not been easy to nab on short notice.  For tonight's outing, where I met up a friend at the Plateau's Josephine, I made sure to reserve a week in advance.


The Mood

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Opened exactly three years ago, Joséphine is named after Napoléon Bonaparte's wife, which may convey an air of grandeur.  While the decor is elegant, the vibe is in fact young, cool and relaxed.  The corner locale has three separate patio areas, two along Saint-Denis Street and one along Duluth Avenue.

The former feel more enclosed, have an abundance of plants and are an extension of the interior's boisterous atmosphere.  We were seated around the corner in the latter section, which is more quiet, minimalistic and isolated.

The Food

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Joséphine serves bistro food highlighting seafood with classics such as oysters, shellfish platters, tartares, calamari, moules-frites and various types of fish.  There is also a filet mignon for the unadventurous steak person.  Prices fall in between the city's middle and upper brackets with main dishes in the 20-dollar range.

For those not looking for a bottle of wine – which was our case – there is a list of standard cocktails as well as a few house specialties, while by-the-glass grape options are fairly limited.

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Caesar Salad

As a non-pork-eater I asked for this salad with no bacon, so I will refrain from commenting on a modified dish.  But I will state that the croutons were too hard.

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Fried Calamari

The squid was not cut into the usual rings and tentacles, but it was delicious nonetheless and only required a squirt of lemon.  The dill/ranch dip was superfluous.

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Grilled Octopus

The two octopus arms were nicely grilled, but I question the reasoning behind blending the caponata – a Sicilian stew of eggplants and veggies.  The two really did not marry well with each other.

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Lobster Tagliatelle

Al dente ribbons of pasta were tossed with an egg-based cream, mushrooms and tough, overcooked chunks of lobster meat.  What should have been a safe crowd pleaser was unfortunately spotty.

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Icelandic Cod

Beautifully-cooked cod was topped with a refreshing, tangy sauce featuring chopped sundried tomatoes, sitting atop asparagus spears.  The ick here were the crispy polenta cubes, which had a burnt taste.

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Every dish so far had an imperfection, and dessert was no exception.  The cheesecake's texture was not smooth enough while the cider and strawberry coulis drops were sour and lacking in sweetness.

The Service

Our visit started off with a minor snafu at the door, where our reservation would have us sit inside although I had clearly asked for a patio table the week before.  This was quickly resolved and the rest of the evening proceeded without a hitch.  Our tandem of waiters was professional, available and responsive.

The Verdict

My first meal at Joséphine left me somewhat perplexed; the setting was fun and enjoyable while the food was uneven.  This chic Plateau restaurant is like a shiny new boat hiding some scratches beneath the surface of the water.

In case I am sounding sour and grouchy, I want to emphasize I had a good time tonight, which is all one can ask for after the year we have all had.  Terrace season has officially set sail!


Price per person:  $42

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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.

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