I still remembered my first visit to Restaurant Candide vividly. It was a cold winter day in December, not so long after the restaurant opened. I had a good experience, but it took me almost around a year and a half to return. The food wasn’t just all about consist, yet it was better.
With the summer terrace, it’s definitely more noticeable than winter time. Summer terraces make Montrealers excited, because it’s the only time that we would actually feel like summer. However, it was raining in the morning, so I thought that there’s no chance to dine at the terrace (better lighting too). Luckily, the sky cleared up in the afternoon!
It might look nice, but it was still a bit chilly and windy. Nonetheless, nothing ain’t going to stop us from dining outdoor as we’ve already set our mind before coming!
The menu at Candide is simple – four courses with 2 choices for the main and dessert. Of course, we had one each. The first course was radish, wild rice, and shaved venison. I didn’t expect to get the radishes with its leaves. Upon serving, the waiter told us to eat the radish first (using our hand), then mix the leaves in there as a salad. I really liked this somewhat DIY concept. It wasn’t really a complete dish, but customers are the ones to break it down and consume it. Instead of just chugging down the food, I actually had the chance to focus on this dish and enjoy it than I’ve ever had.
I was visually impressed by this dish when it was served! When I saw “sea urchin” on the menu, I was expected it to be all mashed up and integrated in the sauce, which the taste might be very subtle. But, it was totally the opposite! Rather than blend it in sauce or turn into some sort of paste, chef John Winter-Russel served sea urchin in its original form! The taste of aluminum (a type of preservative for sea urchin) was very minimum too. Served with asparagus and yogurt, the crunch from asparagus and extra creaminess from yogurt, both enhanced the burst of flavors from the sea urchin.
For the main course, my friend had the lamb served with navy beans and pickles. At first, we thought it’s going to be lamb shank or lamb racks, but it’s lamb belly! I’ve had pork belly, but don’t think I’ve ever seen lamb belly.
Lamb belly doesn’t look as fatty as pork belly. I don’t eat lamb, so I tried the beans and the pickles. I loved the combination! Navy beans were cooked through, quite creamy yet a bit grainy, and the sourness of the pickles nicely lighten up the dish.
I had pike, which was served with fiddleheads and bottarga. It was moist and well seasoned with a bit of sweetness.
Half way through, the waiter brought us some bread that came straight out from the oven. Definitely my type of bread, moist and chewy inside, and crunchy crust.
For last course, unlike other restaurants that charge extra for cheese, Candide includes it as one of the choices. This was mannoir paired with endives and cranberry paste at the bottom. I’m not a cheese expert, but the cheese tasted very much like comté cheese. Also, the endives weren’t bitter! The cranberry paste made it a perfect sweet and savory ending for the meal!
The other dessert was rhubarb with service tree and crème fraîche. I could tell how excited and enthusiastic the chef was when he presented this dish. The green leaves on top are wild arugula. It has a more pungent aroma than common arugula. Chef described it as a bit bitter and “crazy” flavor.
The service tree crumble was a bit salty (in a good way). The rhubarb jam and crème fraîche weren’t too sweet. I like it when my dessert isn’t too sweet, especially in the evening. I don’t think I could get this anywhere else in Montreal!
Lastly, chef surprised us with a final treat, wild muscat sorbet, which the muscats were harvested last winter, which made it very sweet by its nature. Not a single drop of water or milk, nor sugar, was added to it. That being said, we were surprised by its gelato-liked texture, not like frozen ice and watery like regular sorbet!
Like I said, it’s been long since my last visit, so I wasn’t sure what to expect after such a long time. I was glad that the overall experience was even better. Service was still impeccable. Looking forward to return in the near future!
551 Rue Saint-Martin, Montréal
Tel: +1 514 447 2717