1249 Avenue Bernard/Champagneur
Phone: (514) 508-5519
Chef Hats: 2.5
Since its opening three years ago, Brasserie Bernard has become a popular local hangout in the heart of Outremont. It is set more in the style of a typical French Bistro than as what we consider a traditional Brasserie. It is quaint, fun, offers decent food and has solicitous service.
I came across it one evening during my walk on Bernard Street after having eaten at Les Enfants Terribles, across the street. I immediately fell in love with the look of the place with its black panel doors, sprawling windows and lovely terrasse. Of course, I placed it on my bucket list of hip and cool restaurants to try, after spotting Denys Arcand sitting on the terrasse with some friends enjoying a meal.
After doing some research I discovered it was owned by the Holder Brothers. Everyone should be familiar with the name by now. If not let me enlighten you, their name is not only synonymous with Holder Restaurant on McGill Street, which many foodies and business people alike have frequented and enjoyed over the years. The name is also familiar to the many fifty something who in their heydays were patrons of the popular club Business and Le Swimming on St Laurent Street. That was back many moons ago when St. Laurent Street between Sherbrooke and Pine Avenue was the epicentre of the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” or the wannabees of the Montreal “in crowd”. It was a cool era when everything was excessive and there was no limit to spending. Access to one of these joints almost guaranteed you were cool and hip or at least you felt the euphoria for a couple of hours that evening.
Times have changed and St Laurent is no longer as popular as it used to be. Those places are gone and the new generation has moved on to different parts of the city. That area of St Laurent has seen such decline in the last decade and is virtually dead, only but a few remain. The Holder Brothers have also moved on and since have had many other business ventures. Some fruitful and some not, but most have been memorable with a good winning formula and their name is synonymous with good quality, Avant- garde and fun and interesting establishments to party or dine at.
This evening, I decided to make use of my bucket list and finally venture back to Outremont to sit on the terrasse at Brasserie Bernard. I organized a small dinner between five good friends. Two of us arrived early and went for walk to visit our usual haunts before heading in. At the door we were greeted by a very charming Maître d’ who was very accommodating by finding us a seat close to the open windows even though he said that all the seating was reserved.
Brasserie Bernard is nicely decorated in shades of black and yellow. The set-up is typical of a Classic Parisian French Bistro, with black tables and chairs, lots of black paneling and a bar that seats around 10 people. The restaurant itself boasts an overall seating capacity of 120 people, that is inside and outside on the terrasse. Quaint and very masculine in look and feel, the restaurant is like a boxed gem, it is spacious but not immense and still cozy.
The terrace is ideal in summer and this is where you want to be sitting. We were somewhere between , so we started our meal with a glass of Classic Soave Sangiovese from Umbria Italy for $ 14.00, while we waited for the others to arrive. We soaked up the last days of summer and the lovely weather, admiring the beautiful people on the terrace and the passerby’s on the street.
Our lovely waitress Andreane, brought us our menu and patiently waited for everyone to arrive. One of our foodie friends was going to be late, not knowing the time of her arrival, it was suggested we start with our entrees while waiting.
I ordered the entrée of Salmon Tartar for $ 14.00. Brian also had the counterpart which was a half order of Beef Tartar for $ 14.00 as well. The Salmon and Beef tartare were edible but a little heavy on the mustard and pepper, too spicy to actually taste anything. Brian and I both agreed we had better and the oomph factor was lacking.
Lily had the Andalou Gazpacho for $9.00, perfect for a warm day, the cold tomato soup was thick in consistency and had a good kick .
She chose as her main meal the Braised Veal Ravioli for $ 26.00, which she equally enjoyed.
For my main meal, I ordered the Papardelle pasta with Lobster for $ 36.00, which was a total disappointment. I had a craving for lobster and found the dish a little on the expensive side, but nonetheless wanted to satisfy my craving and ordered it. It came with two pieces of unshelled lobster tails, chanterelle mushrooms, papardelle noodles and greens. The sauce was a mushroom sauce in lieu of tomato, it was very woodsy and overpowering in flavour and not what I was expecting.The lobster and the chanterelle mushrooms did not pair well in this dish. The pappardelle were also too al dente and almost cold. I had a couple of bites and lost my appetite. Feeling guilty for having spent so much money I asked them to pack the rest. I attempted to try it again the next day and also had a member of my household try it, just in case I was having an off night and it was still not good.
Linda had the Shrimp Spaghetti with garlic flower for $ 26.00, she loved her dish and its flavours, this came served in tomato sauce and white wine, pancetta, pine nuts and arugula. They got this one right. For dessert she had the crème brûlée, which she liked but made a comment that the topping was too hard.
Brian chose from the specials of the day and had the Lamb chops in its jus with copious amount of mustard and a side of slivers of zucchini. He liked the lamb, found it to be tender and very flavourful. He could have done without the mustard and would have opted for lamb in its jus. The portions and its accoutrements were not much to write home about but it was enough for him.
Barbara also had from the special of the day, Swordfish atop a tomato sauce, with broccoli, mushrooms and dabs of lemon sauce. She enjoyed her dish and enjoyed the vibe at Brasserie Bernard. For desserts she had a Strawberry Shortcake with a coffee to cap off her meal.
I found the dishes at Brasserie Bernard lacked finesse, it was just decent for brasserie food. Compared to the other establishments from the Holder Bros. this one needs some tweaking. But then this is my opinion. Everyone liked Brasserie Bernard and had no complaints.
We continued our evening with more drinks and realized it is more of a watering hole than a foodie destination. The company, locale and conversation were ideal. As the night progressed the place got busier and louder. I started to develop a headache and an ill feeling, it could have been the lack of food and too much alcohol. We lingered a little longer than expected and by 10:30 pm. I was ready to call it a night and head home. I was definitely having an off night, but at least we came, tried and conquered. Suivant….