2077 Rue Stanley/Sherbrooke St.
Cost: Sunday Brunch Buffet: $ 17.95 (tax & Tip $ 24.95)
Chef Hats: 3.5
It has been over 30 years since Mr. Vinod Kapoor first opened Le Taj Restaurant. It is now considered a landmark restaurant not only for its many years of service but for its good food, great ambiance and withstanding the test of time in a volatile and competitive market of restaurateurs.
Back in the heyday Le Taj was considered Fine Haute Indian Cuisine, if one can phantom that. For the Montreal Foo Foodie, Indian food has always been a source of comfort food. Over the years I heard many positive things about Le Taj, it has always come highly recommended, but somehow it has eluded me. I wrote it off as not being in the stars for me to dine there up until now when a friend suggested we dine there for Sunday brunch and she literally drove me there.
Our day started off effortlessly, no traffic, parking in front and no reservations. We walked in and were greeted by Mr. Kapoor himself, who is still manning the podium (at times). He was not too happy to see us arrive without reservations this morning and the look on his face said it all. He did not look like a happy camper this morning ,but his could more because I hear that he is having some financial issues with some property he purchased in Little Burgundy of late, than with us. There was plenty of room for us, even though they were very busy and almost full. We did manage to get a lovely seat near the window on this bright Sunday morning, overlooking the construction zone and orange cones permeating Stanley Street.
I sat down and admired the wonderful decor for a moment before we were served water and given the menus. On display were a phletora of tasteful Indian and Tibetan artefacts and panels. Some I heard coming from the Indian Pavilion at Expo 67, after its dismantling. What a perfect way to celebrate Montreal 375th birthday and pay homage. The decor at Le Taj is modern and chic and very different for an Indian restaurant. The decor is still very classy with its crisp white walls, glass floor to ceiling wine cave and dark wood tables and flooring. Yet it still commands a fine dining status due to its white table cloth service. Le Taj is still holding its ground after all this time and is a beautiful space to dine in.
Our waiter returned again to ask what we wanted to order and we opted for the buffet immediately and began feasting. We started with a Dahl soup, thick with a puree of lentils and chickpeas. The soup was deliciously good and a great way to start the meal, comforting with its spiciness and subtle flavours of curry.
In same sitting we also took some Vegetable pakora and mini Samosas with chutney and mint yogurt dip as an entree with a suggested side of spicy pickled julienned carrots; a staple at a lot of Indian restaurants. The Samosas were okay but lacking in flavour, no hint of coriander or spice. The pakora had been sitting out under the lamps for a while and were a little dry.
For my main meal I chose Tandoori Chicken and Lamb Jalfarezi, no Butter Chicken was not to be found in this buffet. The Lamb Jalfarezi made up for it and was delightful and packed with flavours, this was my favourite. The Tandoori chicken was overly dry as always in a buffet. A side order of Basmati rice and Naan bread complimented the lamb dish and helped scoop up the flavours.
The next items taken from the buffet was the Dahl Mahkni a stew of black lentils, sautéed onions and tomatoes with hints of curry which was delicious. Also sampled was a sweet mix of gourds with okra which was good and worthwhile and another vegetable dish which consisted of a mix of carrots and mushrooms that I found flavourless and generic.I found Le Taj to be more vegetarian than anything else. The buffet also was limited on choices, but then for $ 17.95 I did not expect too much, so I got what you pay for!
For Dessert, I had the Honey balls- with some fruit and corn bread cake, which is also a classic staple in Indian Cuisine. They had a yogurt based pudding which did not look interesting and I did not sample, more because of my lactose issues than anything else. My stomach was already churning as I find Indian food and the heat to be hard on the stomach first thing in the morning. But nothing was too overly hot at Le Taj, which pleases the masses.
Service was friendly and very accommodating and we had plenty of water when required.
I loved the Le Taj more for the decor and price then for the food. While lining up at the buffet to pick our food, the wall doubles as a window where you can witness the chef prepare fresh Naan bread in a Tandoori (clay oven). I thought this to be a nice element that many Indian restaurants do not offer. The Naan bread was really fresh and deliciously warm. It was soothing for the soul and much required on this Super Soul Sunday.
Would I venture downtown again for Indian brunch, not unless you can wow me with super delicious food, aside from decor at Le Taj, everything served today can be had elsewhere for environs the same price. If you live downtown it’s a different story.