Gastromic French cuisine on St-Viateur
Several weeks ago, I had the absolute pleasure of accompanying a friend and a classmate to Les Deux Singes de Montarvie for a tasting. The distinctive restaurant name immediately intrigued me. Nada, the current owner of the place explained the story behind the unique name: the original founder of the restaurant, Merlin Lambert, had previously traveled around the world by bicycle and upon arriving in the region of Montarvie in France, had the opportunity to stay with a family who owned two friendly monkeys. After spending some time with the creatures and establishing a relationship, he decided to name his restaurant after his extraordinary experience there when he arrived back in Montreal. Surreal, right?
From the moment you set foot into this restaurant, there is an almost tangible sense of intimacy and charm. Dimly lit by beautiful vintage style glass lamps, the place is a sleek palette of dark and tan browns with the occasional burst of cool silver from stainless steel tools used in the open concept kitchen. Rectangular blackboards displaying the wine selection and the day’s specials line the upper walls, high ceilings and exposed brick walls secure its place in the trendy restaurant world. With a prominent display of x-ray photographs of a monkey’s head backlit by white light, the element of commemorating the namesake of the place is not forgotten.
Starting off with a glass of Sauvignon semillon, we began with an amuse-bouche of a fried dumpling that came accompanied by a salty dark sauce. Following that, we had a beautifully plated carpaccio of red tuna à la Niçoise. Garnished with a heaping pile of colourful toppings, the raw meat underneath was hammered to a thin, tender texture that almost melted in your mouth it was so delicate. Needless to say, it disappeared faster that you could blink.
The caramelized endive salad over a goat cheese mousse with citrus suprême and roasted walnuts came to us next. The endive was the main player on the plate, lying overtop the majority of the other components. The sweetness deriving from the caramelization technique nicely balanced the salty flavours from the cheese, while the crunchiness of the walnuts and the tanginess of the citrus served as the fresh aspect, making the dish really ‘pop’.
The duck ravioli was placed on our table soon afterwards. Submerged in a thick, creamy Périgourdine sauce, the single ravioli hid at the bottom of the dish. Drizzled with a little bit of oil on top, this dish actually proved to be one of my favourites. It just tasted really, really good. Wrapping the duck in a warm embrace (literally), the ravioli tasted freshly made and was just delicious. With the option of ordering it as a starter or a main, I would be game to order this next time in the bigger portion.
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