Toqué is ranked as the best restaurant in Canada by Canada’s 100 Best. Since I started the intensive french program, I hadn’t had a chance to take the advantage of lunch fine dining. Thanks to the Easter long weekend, I had the chance to visit during lunch time!
The décor is simple, with red, purple, and white as main colored-theme. Situated near the Old Montreal, it’s quite spacious. The high ceilings with lamps hanging down from the top. My friend and I were seated right next to the window. Though the restaurant got quite packed, but the tables are well-distanced with each other that we were able to carry on a conversation without having to raise our voice or accidentally ear-dropped other’s conversation.
That’s probably my favorite corner of the room. Anyhow, Toqué follows the philosophy of “creating a restaurant based on market-fresh cuisine, where the emphasis is placed on local products”, which is a concept that the majority of the restaurants in Montreal is following nowadays. However, they are one of the very few restaurants that list all their local suppliers on the website.
The lunch is served in table d’hôte style, which includes an appetizer, a main, and coffee or tea. As soon as we ordered, the waiter brought the bread. They were really crunchy and dried. It was the first time that I didn’t finish the bread.
My friend opted for the venison terrine, which she has been eye-ing on it before our visit. It was served with oak leaf lettuce, dill, marinated huckleberries, and toasted bread. The bread was nice and crisp outside, and soft inside. I wish the complimentary breads were as good as this toast!
I opted for the suckling pig flank, which was served with radish leaf purée, beet, radish, king eryngii mushroom chips, and meat jus vinaigrette. The meat was tender and moist. However, I found the sauce too concentrated and salty, which override the natural flavor of the suckling pig.
My friend and I shared the main courses. This is the guinea fowl breast, which was served with celeriac purée, pearl onions, carrot, shittakes, and poivrade sauce. The portion was very generous! The guinea fowl breast was tender, and the skin was crisp. The layer of fats in between wasn’t too greasy as well. However, I found the garnishes way to salty again. It seems like they were soaked with concentrated soy sauce. There were two pieces of meat (we suspected that it was the thigh) that were completely coated with the sauce. I had to drink a lot of water…
The other main that we chose was cavatelli served with king eryngii mushroom, fennel, goat’s cheese, and tarragon cream. I had this before the guinea fowl breast. The cavatelli was cooked to al dente. It was creamy, but not too thick. However, I wished the taste of goat’s cheese could be stronger.
After the meal, the waiter asked for our preference for tea, and brought these two almond cakes. They were good! Not too sweet, and moist inside. The dessert isn’t included in the table d’hôte, but my friend and I couldn’t resist to skip desserts.
First up, the verjuice meringue pie with cacao nibs ice cream. I loved this! Verjuice is a highly acidic juice made by pressing unripe grapes, crab-apples or other sour fruit, and in this case, it’s unripe grapes. The meringue was different than I expected too. It’s ooey-gooey, like melted marshmallow. The acidity of the verjuice perfectly balanced out the sweetness of the meringue, and the bittersweet cacao nibs ice cream was rich in chocolate flavor.
We went a bit overboard as we didn’t know that the portion of their desserts are quite big. Nonetheless, this is the cheese cake with rosehip purée, strawberry and lemongrass sorbet. The cheese cakes came in three little cubes, and served like crème brûlée, which has a layer of thin caramelized crust. The cheesecake is in-between classic New York cheesecake and Japanese-style souffle cheesecake. It’s dense, and smooth yet not too heavy. I loved the pairing with rosehip purée and the strawberry-lemongrass sorbet. The acidity definitely lighten up the dish.
Overall, the desserts outshine the savory dishes. The portion of the main dish was very generous. The service was good. The waiter definitely knows the menu by heart. An interesting thing that I’ve noticed was that they placed the utensil diagonally. Why? It’s just their signature (according to the waiter).
900 Jean-Paul-Riopelle Place, Montréal, QC