Montreal Dining: Classic Versus Trendy
Food - Some people see it as source of nutrients in order to survive, others like Antonia Till sees is at an area of infinite pleasure and delight. It is raw, licensed sensuality, a physical delight which will, with luck - and enduring taste buds, last our life long. Personally, I am food lover and I enjoy every aspect of the restaurant experience, so this week I decided to compare two different types of five star restaurants: the classic and the trendy. It was tough to choose two restaurants, especially here in Montreal where food is superb, but let's face it, gourmet restaurants are not cheap, and I am on a budget. Since I already had a reservation made to a trendy one, Garde Manger, my selection process was a bit easier. I chose Garde Mange for my newcomer, trendy restaurant, and I chose Le Club de Chasse et Pêche as a forever classic restaurant. We'll see what type you prefer at the end. I have my personal opinion, but I will mention it at the end to not spoil the fun ;)
First, let's talk about how hard it was to get a table in both restaurants. I decided to go to Le Club de Chasse et Pêche on a Tuesday night with a good friend who is as much a foodie as me. I thought reservations wouldn't be a problem considering it was a working day; however, to my surprise there was only one table left at 8.30 and this one next to the kitchen. You might be thinking, just like I did... "Next to the kitchen? This does not sound good", but the restaurant assured me this would not be a problem. I doubted for a couple of minutes but ended up accepting the only table left. On the other hand, the reservation experience for Garde Manger was very surprising. I had to make reservations two weeks in advance to get a table. I think it was too much.
In terms of service Le Club de Chasse et Pêche amazed me since the moment I arrived. You had the option to take off your shoes; of course, they asked for our jackets, and we were followed to our table. Not even two minutes later, a server approached us with the wine list and his recommendations, which we ended up not following but we appreciated.
Along with the dinner, service was great; food was on time and delicious, breads kept coming; our server was always inquiring if we wanted more to drink, and his recommendations were outstanding in the sense that he included his personal opinion but did not go too far.
Garde Manger's service was disappointing.
We arrived on time and our table was not ready. Bad start. You don't wait
two weeks to go to a restaurant to then wait 15 minutes for a table.
Plus, I ordered a Mojito, which they did not serve, as well as an Apple
Martini. I didn't want to let that influence my decision, so I took note
and continued. It was more disappointing when I read the menu, ordered the Lasagna
as an entrée, and they did not have it. The waitress nonchalantly told me
"I don't know how to tell you this but we run out of lasagna". The menu
is written on blackboards around the bistro, so they could have easily erased
it or told us in advance which the dishes they lacked.
To add perjury to injury, our waitress was always lost, taking too much time to serve us. I waited 10 minutes for my wine, we ordered extra bread; she forgot and finally I had to wait another 15 minutes for the bill. I thought: Is this really possible?
In terms of food: Le Club de Chasse et Pêche
was amazing. They change the menu, or most of it, every week, which
invites you to go often because of the variety, quality and impeccable service.
I ordered a risotto as an entrée, which I shared since the waiter told us it
was big. For main dishes we had the duck and a combined mix of meats. It
was just flawless: perfectly cooked and tasty beyond my dreams. The
dessert menu was limited: only 5 options, but we tried three: a chocolate, a
vegetarian and a classic one. They were a perfect end to a wonderful meal.
Image source: Flickr
At Garde Manger the mixture of flavors was exquisite too. We ordered
Lobster poutine, shrimp risotto, duck and veal.Desserts are a must in this
place. We tried the deep fried Mars bar with ice cream for dessert, and
it was heaven on earth. Finally, I was pleased with the restaurant.
Lastly, but not less important...the ambiance: Le Club de Chasse et Pêche was very calm, proper, with not very loud, music in a
low key. People were serious but having fun; and, in some way, perhaps,
because of the black and grayish walls and the distribution of ambiances, you
could still feel the old men's club vibe, but it was not a turnoff.
Garde Manger, on the other hand, was hyped and super energized. The selection of music in my opinion was the best I have heard in any restaurant. They mixed music of different decades and people would start dancing. For a first timer, I joined people standing up, approaching a birthday girl table and dancing along with the song "it's your birthday" on the speakers. Garde Manger becomes a lounge and a party spot which Le Club de chasse et pêche does not.
So, which one was best? Can we generalize the
experience to every classic or trendy restaurant? We might say... to some extent.
Let's face it: ambiance at new, trendy, expensive spots is always
perfect. I was surprised by the poor service but the food made up for it.
Le Club de Chasse et Pêche, as a classic one, remained an amazing
experience and it became a new restaurant that I will visit often.
Nothing went wrong, so the question is: How many trendy ones will become
classics and last more than 5 years or a decade? Which one would you prefer?
Personally, I go with the classic. Yes, trendy ones have more ambiance, but if
I wanted ambiance I would go to a lounge. Wouldn't You?
St-François-Xavier, Old Montreal
Hours: Tue - Sun 6 pm - 3 am
Payment: Cash, Credit Cards
Cuisine: Seafood, Mediterranean
Phone: 514- 861-1112
Hours: Tue -Sat 6 pm - 10:30 pm
Payment: Cash, Credit Cards
Cuisine: Classic French