While the Montreal restaurant scene seems to be thriving since pandemic-related restrictions have been lifted, much has not reverted back to how things were. Some establishments reduced their operating hours by not opening on Mondays or for lunch.
A feature which has not returned – for now – is the buffet, at least not at one of the city's institutions. Long considered Montreal's premiere brunch destination, the Queen Elizabeth hotel's Rosélys seems to have switched its Sunday buffet for a three-course meal.
More information regarding Rosélys' history and significance can be found in our post-renovation review from 2018. Seemingly still as popular as before, the earliest reservation I could find was for 1:30PM; quite late! That said, the spacious dining room was about half full at this less-desirable hour.
As for the crowd, the iconic restaurant still drew a moneyed clientele consisting of family gatherings spanning multiple generations. This would describe my table today, as my party consisted of my children as well as parents – my father having a weakness for buffet brunches.
For its Sunday brunch, Rosélys suggests a three-course table d'hôte, with two choices for each course. Half of the dishes were perplexing and eyebrow raising.
I could not understand the idea behind serving candied fish with a handful of bread crumbs sitting next to it. Next, an attempt at giving avocado toast a Montreal twist by swapping the bread for half a bagel was not practical. I could not eat it by hand given its pile of toppings, and let's not get into cutting a bagel with a fork and knife!
Moving on, a bao bun of sorts with a crispy shrimp cake and kimchi was overly spicy and – frankly – out of place. Things turn for the better with a reinvented steak ‘n' eggs featuring succulent beef striploin in red wine jus served with a velvety steamed duck egg and buttery Yukon Gold potato wedges.
Finally, desserts were again spotty with a delicious, crunchy waffle given a sweet/tangy/tart treatment and a forgettable, so-called charlotte cake. At $59 a pop, I was hoping for something more polished, better executed or more filling at least. Lastly, children eat for half price; luckily there is a kids' menu which may be more appealing than this overly-fussy fare.
"homemade fresh cream, parsley oil, herbs, pangrattato"
"herbed cream cheese, cherry tomatoes, pistou, melon radish"
"grilled striploin, yukon gold with duck fat, watercress, red wine, steamed duck egg"
"shrimp cromesquis with ginger, kimchi, crispy red cabbage & coriander emulsion"
"clover cream, raspberry puree, white chocolate"
"charlotte cake, whipped cream, berries"
Gone is the hotel's valet service! Whereas for decades I would leave my car at the bell captain's station for a staff member to pick up, today I was informed I would have to drive it around the back of the hotel and park it in the garage myself. No thanks; I opted for a public spot on the street.
During brunch, our waiter was professional, if a little dry in demeanor. He was also absent on a couple of occasions, but otherwise took care of us efficiently and adequately.
With the new menu lacking an identify, I feel Rosélys lost its demarcation factor and is now but a shadow of its former self. Its Sunday buffets were a defining trait of the Queen Elizabeth hotel; they will be sorely missed by regulars of this famed landmark.
While nothing sampled today was particularly bad but rather bizarrely composed and underwhelming, I probably won't be back unless the powers that be reconsider those beloved buffets.
tagged: PLAN B.
Price per person: $59
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.