HVOR, meaning “where” in Danish (pronounced “vor”), brought a new dining concept to Montreal’s food scene. There’s no menu, and everything is up to the chef, hence just like the Nordic “omakase”, where the chef decides what to serve. As the waiter told us that there’s a bit of Japanese influence on chef S’Arto’s creations, I found it, coincidentally, matched with his dining concept!
Locating in the Griffintown, along rue Notre-dame, HVOR can be easily missed by camouflaged behind a wall of greens. My friend and I arrived a bit earlier than their opening hour, but the manager kindly invited us in to wait at the front bar area.
The restaurant adapted the crisp and clean black and white of Northern Europe, and chic at the same time. HVOR is quite spacious, in which it seats 70.
After we were seated, the waiter briefly informed us the concept of the restaurant, and how it works. Thought that changing the menu seasonally is frequent enough for a restaurant, but HVOR chef S’Arto and his team changes the menu weekly using fresh, seasonal ingredients, leading to surprising and innovative results. As the waiter told us that dining at HVOR is just like a “carefree dinner”, which the only decision you have to make is whether you want 3 services or 5 services (it could be one of the toughest decisions too, trust me).
It was our first visit, and wasn’t sure how is it going to be, hence we opted for the 3 services.
To start off with an amuse-bouche, we were presented this delicate, one-bite potato chip filled with white zucchini purée, wild strawberries, and wild flowers from their own garden. The potato chip was very thin, quite refreshing with the zucchini purée, and the strawberries were sweet and sour. It was a good start to wake up our palates, but I wished the chip could be a bit crispier.
After awhile, we were presented a bowl of pure whiteness composed of flan/tofu which have been flavored with prosciutto and radishes. Upon serving, the waiter poured in the almond milk.
The whole presentation was finished with thinly sliced radishes, pear, and little blue flowers straight out of their garden too! I absolutely adore this dish! The flan was as smooth as tofu, rich in flavors and creamy.
Well balanced between the flavors of radishes and prosciutto. Usually, the radishes can easily overpower other flavors, but no in this case.
While the flavors of the radishes and prosciutto still lingering in the mouth, we were presented a plate with whole grilled lettuce, topped with parmesan cheese, bread chips, and a spoonful of tamara-parsley dressing on the side. It was just like a deconstructed caesar salad. Normally, I only like my lettuce raw, but this grilled lettuce was still crisp. The sauce on the side was very flavorful, very seafood-y.
When this dish was presented, my friend and I were wow-ed by the presentation. These thinly sliced “hirame” (aka halibut) and zucchini made up the shape of a fish, with a drizzled of jalapeño oil. The halibut has been lightly torched for “half a second”, as the waiter told us, we found the entire dish a bit unbalanced.
After a bit of confusion, here comes my favorite of the night! I’m still craving for it now. The wholewheat cavatelli with miso-based sauce, clams, and greens, finished with a touch of chili oil and pine nuts has left me speechless.
It reminds me a kind of miso-sesame noodle soup that my mom used to make. The touch of chili oil wasn’t too spicy, but enough to give a kick of the heat. I could totally have another bowl of it.
Here comes the dessert, the “bagel-brest”. A hybrid of Montreal classic, bagel, and a classic French dessert, choux (or aka Paris-brest). As the plate was put down, the waiter took away our utensils. For this one, just dig in and use your hand! The chef wants the diners to discover their “inner child”, so get loose, and get your hands dirty.
This bagel-brest is filled with custard, sprinkled with sesame and gold powder!! The sesame is so fragrant after baked, the custard is not overly sweet.
Another item that I, normally, am not a fan of, but I totally loved this. My friend and I even cleaned the cream from the plate with our fingers.
Thought that was the last dish? Nope! The waiter told us there was one more “surprise”. The final mignardise is the cherry claufoutier with avocado mousse and cinnamon. The cake was so moist and dense but airy (if you get what I mean….). It reminded me of a childhood snack that I had a love-hate relationship with.
After the meal, the manager showed us their urban garden, where it has over 2000 plants, including vegetables, lettuce, herbs, spices, fruits, and flowers, which are rotated seasonally and picked at perfect maturity, and served on your plates.
Overall, it was a great experience. As I am terribly indecisive when it comes to what to order, I wouldn’t have this problem at HVOR (unless you count the struggle of choosing 3 or 5 services…). The waiter was attentive, and friendly. I can also felt that the chef is passionate about what he does. He was in and out of the kitchen throughout the night, explaining the dishes to the customers by himself. HVOR has redefined the farm-to-table concept by harvesting through their own garden.
1414 Notre Dame W. Montréal
Tel: +1 (514) 937-2001