Le Vin Papillon is one of the three brothers of Joe Beef and Liverpool House, locating right next to each other. To stand out from the other two, a different approach must be taken for sure. When a non-drinker dine at a wine bar, is the food still good without any pairings with wine? On verra (we’ll see)…
You must be wondering why am I here when I don’t drink? Because it was quite an impromptu dinner that I couldn’t get a reservation at Liverpool House, but perfect that Le Vin Papillon is first come first serve, and my mother and I eat early dinner, so perfect for us! We didn’t have to worry that we have to wait in line when we arrive around 5 pm. Surprisingly, the restaurant was already quite occupied and busy! Nonetheless, we still got seated right away.
The menu is written on a black board, which could be a bit inconvenient as all the customers have to go stand in front of the board or you can do be like me, who just took a picture of the board with my phone and went back to the table to discuss with my mom. We started off with the clams from Prince Edward Island, seasoned with vinaigrette and mixed with quinoa and cucumber. The clam was plump and juicy. The crunchiness from cucumber and the amount of vinaigrette were perfect balance.
The other starter we had was the famous “7 layer dip” with smoked shrimps. It’s served with potato chips and romaine lettuces on the side. This was my mom’s favorite, and I can also see why it’s a crowd pleaser! You get 7 kinds of flavors either all at once or you can dig it in layer by layer. I didn’t expect it to by spicy, but it was a pleasant surprise! The smoked shrimps were such a delight. They were earthy and smokey, but the spiciness enlightened the palate.
Sea urchin for $5? I just had to order it without any second thoughts. Fortunately, it didn’t disappoint. It was a mix of uni cream and fresh uni. The uni is from Quebec. Since the cream part has been seasoned, it helped with eliminating the aluminum taste that ones might get from the sea urchin. As sea urchin is a seasonal ingredient, if you see it, get it.
Enough for the cold dishes, for hot plates, the waiter recommended the smoked sturgeon with fried gnocchi. As we were sitting in front of the kitchen, I saw these gnocchi fritter came out of the fryer, and straight to our table. It was another impressive dish (approved by mama too)! The gnocchi weren’t oily even when we used our hand. The smoked sturgeon wasn’t fishy, and it was quite a smooth spread.
Last but not least, the Vin Papillon cauliflower. When it was served, it was a whole head of cauliflower! Since cauliflower itself is quite bland, the seasoning is essential. At le Vin Papillon, it’s quite a sophisticated cauliflower that they have. There are kale, lemon zest, capers, and bits of crispy chicken skin! These salty flavors harmonically complemented the hint of sweetness of cauliflower.
Overall, it was a memorable experience. Le Vin Papillon definitely lived up the hype (food-wise)! I can’t comment on their wine, but I can assure that non-drinkers will enjoy the food as well without a glass of drink. Normally, I would expect the food to be saltier and more richer if they are meant to be enjoy with a glass of wine. However, these dishes were perfectly seasoned. I also liked that the restaurant is vegetable-centric, which not only means that they menu changes seasonly, but also, somewhat, healthier. The plates are meant to be shared, which allow customers to try more dishes too. Though the restaurant has the no reservation policy, but it’s still more accessible than scoring a table at its brother restaurants, Joe Beef and Liverpool House.
Le Vin Papillon
2519 rue Notre-Dame O., Montreal
Tel: +1 (514) 439-6494