Sherman's Food Adventures: Mon Lapin

Mon Lapin

So when you are named the #1 restaurant in Canada according to Canada's 100 Best, there are some pretty high expectations.  Well, shortly after this was announced, I made sure to get a reservation as soon as I was able.  We were going to be in Montreal anyways and of course I was going to see for myself what all the fuss is about this wine bar that has transformed into something bigger, literally and figuratively (restaurant has gotten bigger and their menu has leveled-up).

Seeing how it was a nice day and not too hot, we decided to sit outside in their quaint patio.  We ordered a good selection of items including the Razor Clams with fava beans and ham.  Simple, yet elegant, this dish was all about pure flavours.  We had the sweetness of the clams nicely accented by the mild saltiness of the ham.  Beyond the colour, the fava beans provided an earthy sweetness.  We doubled-up on this dish since it would usually only come with 2 servings.

My favourite dish was the Radish Parfait with chicken liver mousse and a supplement of Fried Chicken Oysters.  Oh look at those beautiful fresh-from-the-farm radishes!  They were so crunchy, bright and earthy with a bite.  Dipped into the creamy, sweet and airy mousse, it was divine.  Let's not forget about the chicken oysters as they were crunchy on the outside while revealing the unmistakable tender juicy little nuggets.

Sure, the next item was not the sexiest thing we had, but who wouldn't want some Bâtard with "bon beurre" (good butter) and La Villana EVOO?  Well, the bread was fantastic with a crust exterior giving way to soft chewy insides.  That butter was really good being creamy and nutty with enough saltiness.  The star was the EVOO as it was super flavourful with hints of pepperiness and bitterness.

Moving on, we had the Scallop Crudo with rhubarb water, sorrel and buckwheat butter.  This was simplicity at its best since there was not much in the way of overpowering items in the dish.  This let the sweetness of the buttery scallops be the highlight.  Light acidity, sweetness and nuttiness complimented the scallops.  This was a truly a refreshing dish that was perfect for a summer day.

Now for something a bit different, we had the Le Croque Pétoncle.  This reminded me somewhat of Chinese shrimp toast, but with scallop mousse instead of shrimp mousse.  This was well-prepared with evenly toasted buttery bread with spongy sweet scallop mousse.  These ate quite well and were a textural delight.  This was served with a classic rouille in the middle that added an aromatic creaminess.  Once again, this was a double-order of this dish.

Yep, we had to double-up our order of the Gnudi di Ricotta as well since we all wanted one of everything.  So this consisted of ricotta gnudi with deceptively similar balls of white turnip and garnished with turnip leaves.  The dish was finished in a very green pesto, so combined with the leaves, this was basically monotone.  It didn't taste that way though as the creaminess of the gnudi came through and it was seasoned enough to stand on its own.  However, the pesto was cheesy, nutty and herbaceous.

Hidden underneath a slice of mortadella (I moved it so we could see underneath), the Whelks were finished with fennel and herbs.  Nothing too complex about this dish as the whelks were the star being briny and sweet.  Texturally, they were like bigger clams and had a tender chew to them.  Loved the tender fennel as it provided classic licorice notes and the mortadella added some saltiness.

One of the most unique preparations was the Sourdough-Crusted Chicken (yes with foot still attached) with potatoes, Manila clams and yellow wine.  Well that crust was amazing with a firm crunchiness that gave way to super tender and juicy meat (even the breast).  Yep, I ate the chicken foot too...  The wine sauce was slightly briny due to the clams and was savoury with some sweetness.  Those potatoes were tender and creamy in the middle.

Our final savoury dish was the Aged Pork with crispy pig ears, pork fat morels and eel sauce.  That fatty pork was cooked perfectly with just a touch of pink.  Hence it was tender and juicy with a heightened "porkiness".  Those earthy and luscious morels were complimented the pork beautifully. Can't forget about those crispy pig ears!  They were gelatinous, fatty and yes, crispy.

For dessert, we shared the Pannacotta with Quebec strawberries, elderberry gelee and elderberry flowers.  This was super refreshing, light and full of floral notes.  The pannacotta itself was perfect as it was creamy and fully set without being too stiff.  This was a light and fruity finish to a solid meal.  Mon Lapin has not only delicious share plates, their wine list is extensive.  Great place to share a bottle or 2 or 3 while dining on small plates.  The question is it #1 in Canada?  Personally I would say no because I like Published on Main in Vancouver more, but I can't deny that Mon Lapin is a pretty good too.

The Good:
- Fresh and delicious share plates
- Extensive wine list
- Knowledgeable and professional staff

The Bad:
- Main dining room can be warm
- Your bill can get up there if you are hungry and thirsty


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