407 place Jacques-Cartier (Old Montreal)
Tel.: 861-5731 .
This restaurant, located off the main promenade in Old Montreal, draws a large tourist crowd. The interior space is quite stunning: four sides of the restaurant have walls but theres no roof. They have big umbrellas for bad weather but this night the weather is good and the sky is visible. On a Friday at 8:30 pm theres a line-up that moves quickly. I am seated facing the nights entertainment, a four-piece jazz band (dont you just love live music in a restaurant). They sing a mix of French and English songs and are quite entertaining.
When my waitress finally notices me, I order a Kir Royale (champagne and crème de cassis). The menu is pretty evenly split between salads, crêpes, pizza, and pasta. I have eaten here before for breakfast and had the hugely decadent Nelson crêpes with apple-pie-filling, bacon, and cheese which was lovely and terribly rich at the same time. At brunch on the weekends they have a live classical music ensemble to serenade you.
The paper placemat menus are printed on either side with both official languages. This evening I scan both sides and consider my choices. The Cartier salad has pasta, spinach, mango, avocado, sundried tomatoes, and olives and is served warm ($12.50). (I should have ordered that.) Or the Argenteuil crepes with asparagus, ham, cheddar cheese and something mysterious called Sauce Nelson ($12.00). When I was here for breakfast my sisters boyfriend ordered the Tex-Mex Pizza with chicken and kidney beans, hot chillies, and tomatoes ($13.00).
Instead, I order Lasagne de Saumon ($14.95), which is just like the last meal Ive eaten here: lovely and terribly rich at the same time. Theres a large serving of Atlantic salmon covered in sauce, broiled cheese, a little bit of spinach, and two lonely lasagne noodles.
And while this girl from Vancouver perhaps isnt used to all the bits that make up Montreal table service and I know its more relaxed here than Im used to the service this particular night was terribly slow and non-communicative. I know the place was busy because it was a Friday night. But I think they got the dishwasher to come out and serve tables to help out during the rush. And I think she was my waitress.
Reviewed by Shelley MacDonald