There is a category of restaurants which succeed due to their visual allure and ambiance, regardless of what they put on the plate. After hitting up Perles et Paddock for brunch once and another time for happy hour, I was convinced the Little Burgundy spot belonged to this group. The food struck me as overly fussy while the cocktails were trying too hard to push the envelope.
Three years after my last visit, I thought I would return for a reassessment; after all, this is one of the most beautiful restaurants in town. While reservations are not accepted, I had no trouble finding a couple of free tables and nooks at the bar on this Friday night.
tagged: CAN'T RESERVE
Both of Perles et Paddock's exterior and interior are truly eye catching. What was previously a detached, single-floor garage was converted in 2017 into a standout, hard-to-miss structure. Initially painted all in white, the building was recently given some color thanks to a graffiti-like paint job.
Inside, the white palette continues its magic across three distinct areas: a scattering of tables by the garage door at the front and a French-door-enclosed room-within-a-room at the back, with a tiled bar underneath a massive skylight in between. The stylish, monochromatic space is broken up with planters and a seasonal display of pumpkins.
My wife and I chose the handsome bar for tonight, which had a nice vantage point and allowed us to soak in the smart vibe. Surrounding us was a cohort of yuppies; dining, drinking and mingling – despite the plexiglass dividers – with their neighbors and bartenders.
With most restaurants' brunch menus resembling each other and adopting a non-denominational character, I was not too sure what to expect food-wise judging from my prior visits. A quick glance at the menu revealed a modern, market-driven fare rooted in French cuisine with an attention to sourcing and seasonality.
Dish descriptions are complex, list uncommon ingredients – cameline, seaberry, milkcaps(?) – and follow the petits-plats-à-partager format which blurs the lines between starters and mains.
Perles is known for its elaborate cocktails, and this revised Manhattan is proof. Its ice cube shaped as a diagonally-sliced cylinder is dazzling but made it hard to drink.
Another gorgeous cocktail, made with gin and Bénédictine, blended citrusy flavours with floral and herbal notes. An Asian accent was given thanks to yuzu and ginger.
I don't mind paying for bread at a restaurant when it's worth it, which was the case with this fluffy, crusty French-style bread accompanied with irresistible salted butter.
A slew of root vegetables – parsnip, celeriac, rutabaga, sunroot – were roasted to produce a fabulous play on textures, and layered on a striking, large ribbed plate.
Squishy gnocchi pillows swam in a floral squash coulis and were topped with more squash, this time sliced and marinated. A sprinkling of buckwheat added some crunch.
A dish consisting of three slices of filet mignon was meager considering the price. The accoutrements – sweet potato puree and Brussels sprouts – were fun but the meat itself was a tad bland.
The most "out there" dish of the night was a multi-textured, deconstructed chocolate/coffee mishmash employing lactaire mushrooms(!); audacious and inventive, but it all felt de trop.
A three-member team was on site this evening behind the bar and took care of us as an ensemble. From our stools, we were able to witness the intricate, near-artistic process of preparing our cocktails.
As for wine selection, our bartender was quite knowledgeable and helpful, and allowed us to taste several bottles before settling in on a particular grape and vintage. Following that, waits were reasonable and service was quite sharp and polished.
What I mistakenly took for "just another pretty face" was in fact anything but that. In addition to being chic and trendy, Perles et Paddock's elevated cocktail program and local, soigné food make it a serious gastronomic destination too. While not every dish scored A's for me, I was quite impressed with what I saw overall this time around.
Whether it's for brunch, a coffee, an apéro, dinner or drinks, visitors will have ample occasions to enjoy this Sud-Ouest hotspot.
Price per person: $45
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.