- 381 Avenue Laurier Ouest, Montréal, QC H2V 2K3
- (514) 507-4997
- Reservations: opentable.com
Vanilla Bean Online restaurant reviews have been on the decline for a while now since we’ve been eating at home more *yawn* …and when we do go out, we stick to our favourite restaurants that never let us down. i.e. Le Gourmand (West-Island)
My sister, Bianca, challenged me to stop being a hermit and to leave the West Island. She invited me to a new restaurant she thinks is delicious and cutting-edge. She’s got good taste but I was skeptical after perusing the menu on-line. It looked fancy, the plates seemed bare. I feared: food decor at the expense of substance. It reminded me of my experience at Toqué. I was promised the world and was given a pea….or ‘ghost of leek’. https://vanillabeanonline.wordpress.com/2012/08/25/toque/
Laurea is now in the locale of the late-great Laurier BBQ, which closed, then it re-opened with the backing of the famed, Gordon Ramsay, who’s good intentioned venture ultimately failed. Now it’s Laurea – totally independant and miles away in terms of Laurier BBQ’s style. Its on another planet actually.
The decor feels clean and slightly 50’s, early 60’s retro. Its spacious but maintains warmth with its woody feel. There’s an attractive bar in the center. There’s a range of seating from booth-style to regular tables to bar-type seating overlooking the kitchen – at close range so its great if you like to see the inner workings of a busy kitchen. Less need for small talk then 😉
Now for the food. The menu, as earlier stated did not readily tempt me as much as other menus I’ve seen. What I really mean is that I did not know what many of the listed foods were such as Tamarin or Huntsman sauce or Quince, but that didn’t matter in the end though. I quickly learned that you can trust in the chef’s flavour choices.
I ordered the seared scallop appetizer – Scallops : cauliflower purée, crunchy peanut and tamarin sauce. The scallops were perfect; seared, caramelized on top with its soft delicate interior. The peanuts added another dimension of flavour and crunch while the cauliflower puree was airy and delicately flavoured. The Tamarin sauce, a main component in Pad Thai sauce btw, added an asian facet, tasting both sweet and sour. It wasn’t syrupy but rather like a light broth. My main was the Venison : endives, onions, quince, blackcurrant, huntsman’s sauce. The venison is served rare, was tender and as so often paired with wild meat, there were sweet elements such as berries, and fruity-woodsy sauce smears amongst it all, which I loved sampling with each bite of the meat. Bianca’s main was, the squash risotto with seared scallop placed on top. Squash risotto sounds tired but not in this instance. She just has a knack for choosing the best dish at any restaurant she goes to; its her super power so as usual, it was the best thing ever eaten by man. Besides the chefs obvious talent for perfect scallops, I have never tasted parmesan so fresh before nor have I enjoyed risotto so much. My sister may have wanted to bitch-slap my fork away but politely did not. She was just happy I was liking her restaurant choice.
The dish that deserves its own paragraph: Once again Bianca, chose a surprisingly “kick-ass” starter. She had the vegetarian dish of all things. I was like, “yeeaah, I’ll taste it” not thinking that I would like it. It was the Beet Ravioli and I must say that I think only Laurea can pull off a vegetarian dish so spectacularly. There’s no pasta in this dish either (pause for effect) How, you ask? The ravioli itself was made with fresh beet, sliced paper-thin and folded over a sweet potato puree filling. We were informed by our waiter that the the beet ravioli pockets are sealed with steam and that we could easily do this ourselves at home! He was so bright-eyed and obviously a poor judge of talent. Let’s leave it to Laurea shall we? I could just see myself trying to seal a beat pocket with steam…yeah…burned fingers and all. “Its too thin…its too thick… it broke..by fingers will dyed pink foreverrrr! I digress…Aside from the ravioli, there were other various tasty elements to the dish, crispy bits, delicious mushrooms and potatoes, all crowned with a flavourful herbed oil. So satisfying – a term seldom used to describe a veggie dish and a far cry from the token grilled vegetable tower with goat cheese type a’ thing.
For dessert, Bianca and I recommend the Nuage: (Cloud) meringue, jasmine, sherry raspberry. You punch your spoon into the crispy meringue’s exterior. It breaks apart like firm snow revealing a softer interior. Then when you pop it in your mouth ‘poof!’ it dissolves away just like a cloud, hence the name.
There are plenty of restaurants that have the favourites, that play it safe. At Laurea, they too are playing it safe, but perhaps not so obviously 😉 What I mean is, they incorporate certain ingredients that you may not be familiar or don’t eat often but that just work, that are a slam-dunk every time. Also, do not fear that these elements will be too exotic for you. It seems they are careful about that.
I hope you try this restaurant.
Photo of the beef carpacio which was also very delicious. See the crispy bits and tasty puree?