Restaurant L’Express, à Montréal

l'express black and white

Restaurant L’Express

I am told that when this restaurant opened in 1980, it was a success from the get-go and it is obvious why. From when you walk through the door, you feel like you have walked into another era like the 40’s and in some other place…like Paris perhaps. Maybe its the classic looking bar, the beautiful black and white checkered floor or the dark wood which surrounds…. I love the simple bistro chairs and bar stools and tables. The ambiance is unpretentious and relaxed, loud and bright. You can talk and laugh whole-heatedly and nobody will mind it.  At first I was taken aback by the almost daylight brightness of the place but you soon feel at home in it. It feels somewhat authentic if that makes any sense. I don’t like very dark restaurants where you can hardly see your food anyway. Given the vibe, strangely, it felt like it should have been a smoky room, where people are enjoying a drink and many cigarettes, speaking French, some laughing, some grim-faced while Brel or Edith Piaff play in the background. It probably was exactly that way at one time or it is my imagination running away with me.

The servers are dressed in classic attire, white shirt, black vest and tie and behave  professionally without overdoing it- perhaps more classically trained than the service staff in too many restaurants I’ve been to.

The wine list was superb. Their selection is generous and it seems that wines at any price point were selected with care. They have two lists, one more affordable, offering wine by the glass as well and the other, a little more pricey. Make sure to get both.

l'espress pickles

I’m usually not one for bistro food but wanted to be open-minded and try a bit of everything. There had to be something to this place. The seemingly only favorable reviews on-line made everything seem amazing and I was not going to be left out.

I started with the Octopus with lentil salad and vinaigrette. Which was served chilled and utterly perfect – tender, fresh, a little vinegary –  just right.exp-octopus

I really also wanted to try the warm goat cheese salad or quiche of the day or the chicken liver pate with pistachios. I guess I’ll go for one of them next time.

As my main, I had the Roasted quail with wild rice. This was so good! The quail was broken up into fine, easy-to-eat peices. You can just pick a piece up by the bone and eat it all like a dainty chicken leg with no fat to speak of. It is the only way to eat it really and you will still look classy doing so.  The flavor was a little sweet and smokey from the grill. The wild rice was the worrisome part as I never liked it but HERE, it was amazing, glistening with butter (surely) and tender. It was delicious. The saltiness of the buttered rice went so well with the subtle sweetness of the meat.

My co-diners 😉  had the chicken liver pate which I tasted and it was great, the fois-gras terrine and the bone marrow, which the restaurant is famous for. Its not my thing but it was good from what I heard. The reviews on-line for this dish were all outstanding.

They also had the quail & cold roast beef with fries. All were very bone marrow

For dessert I had the lemon tart and it was unfortunately just OK.  Every restaurant can have a little weak spot but its is also a matter of taste.

They serve brunch as well, can’t wait to try that. 

Lastly, I also like that you can book on-line with Open-Table right from their stie. You get a reminder and can invite friends and add it to your calendar.

In conclusion…

I give L’Express a 4 out of 5.

You have to be opened to this type of cuisine. Its true bistro-style fare and feel.  The service, wine, food and general vibe was great.  I can clearly see why this restaurant has such an unfalteringly good reputation. The management and owners must be attentive, meticulous and sticklers for quality in every aspect.

Hope you try it!

express 2

One response to “Restaurant L’Express, à Montréal”

Leave a Reply

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: