I recently went to Marconi, located in Mile Ex, for dinner with my friends on a Friday evening to get a head start of the weekend. However, the experience was like a roller coaster ride, but mainly just going straight down.
After being absent from Montreal’s food scenes for around 5 years, the former chef of Au Pied de Cochon, Mehdi Brunet-Benkritly, decided to move back to Montreal from New York, and opened Marconi along with his wife in December 2016 on the border of Little Italy and Mile Ex.
The restaurant has an open kitchen, but they definitely did a great job on ventilation. It has a bistro-vibe, and used a lot of woods on decor, from the wooden bar counter, tables, chairs to old wooden floors!
Though I don’t drink, but seems like they have quite an extensive selections of alcoholic beverages. The bartenders barely get any breaks throughout the night. The restaurant filled up quickly as soon as a bit past 6 pm.
The waitress informed us that the plates are meant to be shared, and also suggested the number of dishes that we should order in order to be satisfied. To start off, we had the pork confit tartine. It was quite good! I was expecting more of like pulled pork texture, but it was like a terrine, smooth and rich.
We ordered two appetizers to share. This beets dish was beautiful, served with spiced walnuts, raisin, celery and yogurt. The presentation wow-ed us. The beets tasted like they were pickled. It got the nice crunch and the acidity. I liked the ribboned celery, it made them less rubbery, and more tender. The combination seems quite balanced, not overpowering each other, yet it didn’t leave much impression like the other appetizer.
Though brussels sprouts season is already over, but it’s one of my favorite vegetables. The description of the dish seems quite intriguing, because we saw kimchi! It’s also paired with buffalo mozzarella and basil. The pairing sounds very interesting, but quite a bit disappointed. I liked how the brussels sprouts are nicely charred and crisp, but the kimchi was very bland, just like boiled cabbages with a hint of saltiness. The addition of basil should be quite fragrant, but unfortunately not. It was more like a garnish.
We each ordered a “main”. Why in quotation marks? Because portion-wise, this pork shoulder steak was the only one that would be qualified to be called a main course. It was served with cabbage, smoked apricot, and guajillo (a variety of chili from Mexico). It was on the tough side for the meat, but the flavors were quite good, especially the smoked apricot puree.
I was quite speechless and shocked for the portion of this duck dish. It was just 3 small pieces with an average of 4 cm, served with pink peppercorn (more just like for decoration…), honey, pepitas, squash, and ramps. It was thick, but I was glad that the meat wasn’t rubbery and overcooked. I really hope that the portion could be bigger for how much they’re charging.
My other friend had the lamb sirloin, served with olives, white beans purée, pomegranate, fresh mint, and fiddleheads. The meat was quite tender, but still very gamey.
Now, here’s a shocking anecdote about our experience. Everything was going very well until we found a hair in the plate. My friends and I double checked to make sure it wasn’t our’s. It was relatively short, but brownish under the light. Girls have long hair, and none of us dyed our hair, so we decided to inform our waitress. The first thing she said was “okay, so what do you want me to do?”. We were confused. For the very first time, we were being asked of what do we want them to do instead of knowing how would she handle it. To avoid troubles, and don’t want to leave an impression of just want freebies, we said it’s fine, we’ll keep the plate (didn’t want to waste time on waiting the new plate). She came back few minutes later, and said that no one in the kitchen has dark hair (was she implying that it’s our hair?) But I told her that the hair was in fact brownish under the light, and it was already coated with sauce, so if it was one of us, it would’ve just been on the surface, and come out quite clean. She left without saying anything again, and came back with words of offering free dessert.
When it was dessert time, my friend clarified with the waitress asking if what the chef offers will be one of the three on the menu, and she said it’ll be whatever that we didn’t choose, which was quite confusing as if like we had to order a dessert before she brings the complimentary one. Anyhow, we ordered one, chocolate with honeycombs, olive oil and salt. It was surprisingly good! Smooth, not too sweet, and a bit of salty aftertaste.
This panna cotta, topped with graham crackers and sea buckthron syrup, was the complimentary dessert offered by them. It was very good too! Not too firm to be like a pudding, but creamy. Both desserts outshined the savory ones.
Not even the end of the meal, another taboo of customer service. Half way through the dessert, she already came over to ask us how do we want to split the bills. We weren’t even done with the dessert! I would totally get it if she asks while taking away our plates or there are people waiting at the door (there weren’t). However, don’t get me wrong, the waitress was nice and friendly, checking back on us frequently to make sure everything is alright and explained the dishes. But, the way that incidents are handled? I think it can be better. How would you react in this situation?
45 Avenue Mozart Ouest, Montreal
Tel:+1 (514) 490-0777