Friday, April 12, 2013

French Extravagance: L'Autre Saison

I've long associated "going all-out" with French cuisine. The delicate presentation, the number of courses (at least two more than I am used to), the expenses, the sheer fanciness of every single aspect --  French food really makes me want to put on a monocle. Oui oui, Monsieur. Oh, and the fact that they try so hard at pushing you into buying wine, or in the very least, fancy water. Oui oui. 

So imagine my delight when I found a Groupon offer for a French spot that is so accessible. L'Autre Saison is on Crescent, just up the street from Concordia metro station. The online reviews  always check them before purchasing a Groupon/Tuango/Teambuy voucher – were actually okay, although many people did complain about the service of one individual in particular. Hmm, I thought. Looks like a good place.

After much much procrastination, M and I got an early reservation just a day before our voucher expired. We totally got all dressed up and everything!

Thankfully, we didn't get the fellow who suffered much slander from Internet reviews. Our server stiffly took our coats and seated us. M later told me that being stiff and awkward was a thing in many French restaurants, a tradition originating from long, long ago, when aristocrats would get offended if servers spoke or behaved like regular people. The more you know, right? 

We were the first ones in, so we looked around and twiddled our thumbs once the waiter took our orders. The decor, as you've seen, was very fancy and rather over-the-top. In the main room, the walls were lined with glass cabinets crammed with little antique statues and the sort. Compensating for something? I hope not. 

The server provided us with some olives and rolls. I'm sure that it was my first time having anchovies, on olives, no less. I liked it a lot. The rolls were piping hot in the centre.

My appetizer was the duck confit with raspberry vinaigrette ($12). Warm and delectable, this dish really starts off the meal! I was surprised at the size. Add some rice or potatoes, and it could work as a full meal. The fat was not at all overwhelming, a pleasant surprise for a dish that was literally preserved in its own fat. 

M had the smoked Atlantic salmon ($12) to start. It may look like a lot, but it's really just a few slices of salmon on top of endives. Pretty boring, and quite salty. It really didn't wow either of us, and it certainly doesn't take much effort to just throw some stuff on a plate. Not worth it. 

His main course, however, looked a lot more satisfying! Entrecôte sauce dijonnaise ($26) was simply massive. They sure don't believe in tiny portions here. M ordered medium-rare, but it was a bit tougher so opt for rare if you want to try the steaks. The sauce, light and spicy, paired superbly with the meat, and it was quite the satisfying main course. 

Now, I've heard that this place has Montreal's best rack of lamb ($32), and the waiter also reminded me of that claim. I do love me some lamb, so challenge accepted. Crusted with breadcrumbs and light Dijon mustard, the juicy, tender meat blew me away to tastebud heaven. Seriously, the seasoning is to die for! I'm drooling just thinking about it. I don't know if it's the BEST in the city, but you've definitely got some competition if you want to one-up this restaurant. 

For dessert, M had the house special tarte tatin with ice cream ($14.50). Tarte tatin is an upside-down pie, usually apple like here. It's great by itself, but fantastic with ice cream; the hot gooey apple goodness melding with cold vanilla... The result is apple sugar sticking to your teeth. This dish was quite lovely, try it!

I finished the meal with chocolate crème brûlée ($12.50). I was disappointed when my spoon dipped in without breaking any caramel crust. I've long associated that lovely sound with good crème brûlée. Instead, the topping was simply burnt and bubbly. The custard, however, was very creamy and almost liquid on the inside, with swirls of chocolate sauce at the bottom of the ramekin. This dish is kind of controversial; it really depends on how you like your crème brûlée. One thing is for certain though: this places has really expensive desserts. 

All in all, we had a really good time. The restaurant filled up quickly, and halfway through our meal, a violinist began to play in the dining room. Our food cost quite the pretty penny though (even with the discount), but the table d'hote is a lot better with prices, so I think we will come back for that. 

2137 Rue Crescent
Montreal, Quebec
(514) 845-0058

L'Autre Saison on Urbanspoon

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