6230 St Hubert St, /between Beaubien & Bellechasse
Telephone: (514) 903-6230
Cost: $ 85.94 (tax/ tip included for 1 person)
Chef Hats: 5
Plaza St Hubert is an unlikely place and an odd choice to open up a new restaurant amidst shops selling bridal wear, shoes and knick knacks. But not when the owners and chef happen to be eccentric Charles Antoine Crete and his partner Sheryl Johnson, both former chef de cuisine and sous chef at Toque. After their fourteen year stint in one of Montreal’s Top Fine dining establishments, they have chosen this location to branch out on their own and create their own pied-à-terre. They found the neighborhood cool, interesting, and full of life and decided to totally renovate the old and defunct Bistro Étoile and make it their own space.
What I like about St Hubert Street, besides it being my old stomping ground is its illustrious past. Over the years its deterioration has turned it into a mish mash of empty storefronts. Part kitschy, part weird, it has remained and has survived by constantly trying to reinvent itself. Word is on the street that it will experience a sort of revitalization soon by getting a new $50-million glass awning that will completely encase the street. It is trying to reinvent itself once again with a new found reputation as a great shopping & dining destination. Now the neighborhood will be lined with a mix of shops, old-school and family run eateries, hip bars, and the emergence of places like the classy Montreal Plaza, to cater to a new type of clientele. All that being said, it`s revitalization is imminent.
Le Montreal Plaza is now two years old, opened in September 2015 it has not only garnished great reviews but has amassed quite a strong clientele, which has allowed them to expand into other ventures this year with their new restaurant Food Chain . Both talents in their own right, Montreal Plaza are a sounding board not only for Mr. Crete whimsical nature but also serves as a canvas for is artistic flair, great cuisine and energy.
Montreal Plaza is totally the future. The space has been beautifully renovated by Montreal Top Restaurant designer Zebulon Perron. The feel is very French Bistro with its black paneled windows, high ceilings and white walls and frosted glass lighting fixtures which run the length of the restaurant. The room is a mix of furniture from banquettes, wooden tables and chairs, even picnic tables for larger groups and private rooms. Montreal Plaza is very popular with the in crowd, yet the restaurant is not pretentious or snobby. Service is impeccable, respectful and very accommodating. The food is exceptional and creative; they serve classic French bistro fare with fresh, local market cuisine at its best. The wine list contains lots of private imports and is carefully selected with dishes on the menu.
We were a group of seven this evening, who arrived at different times. We found one of our friends at the bar enjoying a drink before we were escorted to our private room for dining. For some people in our group, the private room was not to their liking. I liked the privacy of the small room and at some point even closed the door to shut out the buzz of the main dining hall. A contrast to the beauty of the rest of the restaurant, the private room was filled with empty crates strewn on the floor, a refrigerator, and a mish mash of furniture, an aquarium and a television. We discovered that it doubles as a staff meeting room when the restaurant is closed. Many of us still felt the room was not appropriate for fine dining. I tried to make the best of a situation.
Be forewarned, for large groups it is recommended to take this room and the tasting menu to make it easier for staff. Nonetheless, the service was consistent, even if we were tucked away.
Most of us started our meal with a Reisling from Clemens Busch –Moselle, a dry white wine from Germany for $ 14.00. Light and crisp, not at all sweet, it paired well with our entrée of fish, vegetables and pasta.
My partner in crime Barbie and I shared our meal and split the cost, allowing us to try five items on the menu, in lieu of the two or three. We started with the Crispy Fish Tartare for $ 18.00. This consisted of Arctic char, crispy quinoa with lettuce in a Dijon mustard cream sauce. I loved the textures of this dish with the crispy quinoa; generous portions of Arctic char came buried under leaf lettuce. The fish was very flavorful, fresh, not overcooked and a perfect combination. The dish was more of a salad than the usual tartare in presentation.
For our next dish we sampled the Stuffed Zucchini Flowers for $ 16.00, which I suggested, as these are one of my late summer favorites. The dish consisted of two mini zucchini and their flower. The flowers were stuffed with a cream cheese and seasonings, then floured and deep fried. It came served with a cocotte/bowl filled with plenty of white cream sauce topped with pesto garnish for dipping. The zucchini were deliciously filling. The difference with this dish was that usually most restaurants only serve the flower .Whereas here after eating the flower; I discovered a mini zucchini attached at the base for further savoring. The zucchini was just as tender and flavorful and an added bonus.
Our third dish was Morrell Majestique for $ 18.00. Sautéed Morrell mushrooms, atop toasted homemade bread with lettuce and topped with grated parmesan cheese and drizzled with honey mustard sauce. I liked the dish, but not more than that. Even if I am not a big mushroom fan, the dish was palatable, I found the bread a little burnt and the presentation left much to be desired.
For our main dishes, we had the Cavatelli with Foie Gras for $32.00. Perfect pockets of flavorful tender gnocchi sized pasta, with generous portions of Salty buttery Foie Gras, seared to perfection, with spurts of fresh peas and chives as garnish. I could not get enough of this dish and could have eaten a whole portion by myself. One of the best Cavatelli dishes I have had in a while.
Our beautiful Lorena had the Lobster Salad for $23.00 as her entrée. It came hidden inside a lobster shell, with a mound of leaf lettuce on side. Upon opening shell she discovered a flavorful mix of lobster with cucumbers and vegetable in light lemon sauce. She liked it but found it heavy on the dressing.
As her main she ordered lamb with bread cake, tender pieces of lamb in a stew with peas, carrots, mushrooms on puree of potatoes. She found this very flavorful, tender and used the extra bread she received to soak up the flavorful juices.
Anne Marie and Brian shared the Whelk Gratinée in Miso Butter for $ 13.00. This dish resembled classic Escargots in Bourguignon, but instead it was made with large Whelks, cooked in Miso butter. Whelks are a species and a common name for sea snails. Anne Marie found them to be flavourful and tender, not at all chewy or fishy; if overcooked whelks can be quite chewy. The dish also came with three pieces of cake bread for soaking. The Miso butter was an original concept which not only complimented the saltiness of the seafood , but creating a light and mild broth that was not too overpowering , and great for those who do not like too much garlic.
For dessert, Lorena had a citrus fruit salad, that was a great palate cleanser and Barbra and I had the Raspberry Feuillette that was big enough for everyone. Our dessert was delicious, a light puff pastry smothered in whipped cream and fresh raspberries. Decadent!
We completed our meals with tea, coffee and more drinks. We were allowed to stay for as long as we wanted and lingered later than expected. I enjoyed the Montreal Plaza, and I am already planning my next visit there in conjunction with my next shopping spree. Silently I am hoping that Plaza St Hubert will become a restaurant Mecca like Prince Arthur or Duluth Street used to be. This would be just fine with this foodie.