538 Place Saint-Henri/ rue St.Jacques
Phone: (514) 316-7234
Chef Hats: 5
Cost: $ 176.55 (2 Persons cocktails, wine tip & tax included)
I am in love with H4C and its chef Dany Bolduc, so this review is biased. I fell in love with the food and the ambiance of the restaurant on my first visit. I love the way his mind works with his representations of culinary creativity. I love the way he is so meticulous, ingenious and original when it comes to choosing different produce and placing a multitude of different flavors on one plate. To some, it may seem too much to palate; but I love the explosions of different flavors that I get with every bite or morsel of food. I love the fact that I cannot or even try to replicate an iota of what I ate at H4C. This is what makes going to H4C not only and adventure but a worthwhile experience and different from many fine dining establishments.
I took advantage of this during last November Montreal à Table to try H4C and sample a three course meal for $ 41.00 per person. At this price it was a steal and such a worthwhile trip out to St-Henri.
H4C is relatively obscure to many unless you a real foodie, but it has been around since August 2013. H4C is the inception of Chantal Paradis and Marc-Andre Vallée the founders of the Architectural firm Dimension 3. Together they had a vision and created H4C. They enlisted the help of Dany Bolduc, who at the time was the chef at Reservoir and together set up shop in an old Post Office in Place St Henri.
The transformation of the restaurant in this old greystone building is not only quaint but charming.
It is not a large space, seating only about 60 people but it is functional and always full. The ambiance and décor is soothing, inviting and elegant; especially in the evening with its subdued lighting. I found it to be romantic, even though we were seated close together and the noise level is loud with its tall vaulted ceilings. It is a little gem of a box with its exposed brick walls, black leather banquettes and wooden tables, which add natural elements to the space. The old bank safe doubles a cool wine cellar and you have a bar at the far end of the wall that can accommodate those who just want to go for a quick bite or just cocktails. The service is very professional and the food is exceptional.
The wine list is impressive with mostly private imports and their cocktail menu although short has some interesting drinks like Darth Vador. We started this evening with a drink called Jean Davant for $ 13.00 each, which is H4C version of a Mojitos, but better. It was very refreshing and had a kick of bitters and Vodka. With my meal I ordered a Rose Bohème- Languedoc 2015-Julien Peyras, a mix of Grenache and Mourvèdre by the glass for $ 14.00, a bottle is $66.00. A really good wine to go with any meal of fish or game, it was light and not overpowering.
We were starved and could not wait for food, so we ordered the Fresh Baked Bread with Country Style butter for $ 3.25 to wolf down with our drinks. This was worth the price if you need bread with your meal, but not necessary as the food here stands alone and bread is really not necessary. The bread was served warm and we found it was very good.
Along with that we were immediately served our amuse bouche on a flat slate plate; sitting alone on this large plate it consisted of a perfect shaped rectangular turnover stuffed with cooked cheese, like a tiropita. It was delicious and the perfect teaser, but we wanted more.
Next we had a choice of six items on the menu; we chose for starters the pancetta of duck on a papadum, with smoked onions and curry, and dabs of lime coriander sauce and tamarind. A good mix of Indian flavors, the papadum was crispy and the duck sublime. This was a first for my dining partner who is not much of a duck fan and was having it for the second time. The duck pancetta was fashioned -bacon style, thinly sliced atop the rectangular shaped papadum. The duck was tender and complimented with the onions and spurts of tamarind and lime. The papadum was crispy underneath and when mixed together the flavors were just heavenly. We loved the textures.
The foodie chose, for her appetizer a Gnudi Mtl for an additional $ 6.00. The ricotta Gnudi has been on their signature menu for some time and is a must try. Very original in concept, it is basically more of a soup than a plate of pasta. It is a powerhouse of flavors. It is an intricate creation which consists of a flavorful based onion soup topped with a creamy dollop of gruyere infused cream and fried rice cracker croutons. Hidden underneath the cloud of crema were three little gnocchi style pasta pockets. How ingenious mixing a fusion of three classic recipes in one French, Italian and Asian flavors. I loved this and would have wanted more, it was so smooth and velvety. The flavors were outstanding.
For Mains we both choose the Tandoori style Octopus on a sweet bed of coconut basmati rice, with red onions on the side stuffed with a caramelized yogurt and topped with crumbled cashews. This dish a first in my many years of fine dining blew me out of the water. Not only was it gorgeously presented, the mix of flavors just melded together perfectly. It contained the perfect mix of sweet and savory.The octopus was perfectly cooked and tender. The rice sweetness enhanced by the coconut flakes.
The two sides of red onions stuffed with yogurt were delicious, they were soft and creamy mixed together with the octopus it enhanced the flavors tenfold. The crunchy cashews added the perfect texture to the overall dish; if you do not have nut allergies. I can eat anything and this is what I look for when dining out. I admire creativity, structure and technique that is unattainable personally.It takes many years of experience and professional training to achieve this. This is why I like dining out at places like H4C.
Everything sampled tonight was not only fresh and delicious; it added a whole new level to dining out experience and it did not end there. Dessert was still in tow, and I will try to describe it as best as possible. It is all about deconstruction at H4C, another mix of flavors. Like creams, quenelles and small square triangles of deliciousness.
I had my proverbial favorite a lemon meringue dessert, with cucumber and gin. A wonton crisp atop a light lemon custard sauce, topped with a dollop of baked meringue and green onions. Served alongside a quenelle of cucumber sorbet. Who would have thought, such a mix of sweet and summer freshness was going to be so delicious and so so refreshing.
The second dessert ordered was Squash gelatin like squares with grated crumbled black Sapote, which a tropical fruit from the persimmon family, better known as chocolate pudding fruit, a pain d’epice, served with three quenelles of vanilla, mango ice cream and dabs of crème fraîche. No explanations needed here. Let your imagination go wild.
We loved H4C, but it was short lived as we ate and left. The line up at the door was growing and this is the disadvantage of booking a first sitting. Our table was needed, but we were not rushed out and after completing our meal, we decided to have our coffee elsewhere. If the bar was not full we would have sat there and had a digestive all night. H4C is just the type of place you want to stay and linger.