Le Garde-Manger Restaurant408, St-Francois-Xavier (Corner St-Paul)
I was fascinated by this restaurant and admittedly by the restaurant's celebrity chef, Chuck Huges.
The restaurant looks cool, sounds cool and the chef has tattoos of his favorite foods!! Yeah! He's got lemon meringue pie on his arm!! That's my favorite dessert too!
Anyway, I was introduced to this restaurant because I was watching the food network (no kidding) and I stumbled upon this show called "Chuck's Day Off", which is filmed at the restaurant. He makes great looking food seem so effortless to make. Doesn't hurt that he's kinda' cute too. -That was it, after one show, I had to go to Le Garde-Manger.
It wasn't easy..for a party of 2 on a Saturday evening, we were looking at about a month long wait. That's crazy...I told the girl on the phone that I was flexible with the time..so she said brightly, "OK! We have space in two Saturdays from now, at 10pm, at the bar" Urrhhhhh!
I finally ended up going with my sister at some point, after collecting dust and cobwebs.
We were so excited, we loved the ambiance. We were seated right away and it didn't take us long to notice the great music playing. The restaurant's play list is awesome..We were singing along the whole evening - lots of older songs including Led Zep - loved it!
It seems to be a hot spot for the 5 a7 crowd. Very nice-looking patrons too, business people and some "city people" as I call them..it was a healthy mix. The feel was vibrant and a little bohemian. I wanna say "shabby-chic" but don't know if its the appropriate term.
To start we, of course, tried the Lobster Poutine - so Quebecois and so good. The fries are similar to McDonald's in size, the gravy- a veal reduction sauce. They were very generous with the cheese and the lobster. The lobster was so tender - no chewiness whatsoever. I cannot even describe how good this was- it rocked. We were fighting over the last bits. We also tried the tomato salad with avocado. When my sister proposed this..I thought it would be ordinary but these were the best, freshest tasting tomatoes ever :) They tasted as if they were straight from the garden. Besides that, there was such a great combo of flavors in this dish. We couldn't pin-point what it was that made this salad so special and the waiter suggested that its the dill - "it makes all the difference".
For my main I chose the short rib, which was very tender, falling off the bone, saucy and so tasty
However, this is where the celebration and cart wheels ended. I found what I thought was a piece of clear plastic in my plate..I picked it up, examined it..I tried pulling it apart to see if it was a piece of onion. It wouldn't break. In a braised meat dish, if it had been an onion , it would have fallen apart right away.
I told the waiter and he brought it back to the kitchen straight away..I could see right into the kitchen. (they have an open concept kitchen , which I like, where you can watch the crew of young and hip looking chefs do their thing. They wear a modern black "uniform", with caps rather than traditional chef headgear) Anyways....
I saw a group of them peering over my plate at the plastic/onion. Minutes later the waiter returned without my plate and told me that it was an onion - for sure! He asked if I wanted my plate back..at this point I was a little turned off and said "no" I was positive that it wasn't an onion. (for the record, my sister didn't think it was an onion either)..I was further turned off when they didn't even offer anything, not even a drink or at least ask me if I'd like to have something else. Maybe I shouldn't have expected anything, I don't know.
My sister had ordered the Bavette with fries. She found that the meat was tough and said it was mediocre at best. Too bad.
I did not try the fried Mars Bar but I hear its the best thing there..That, and the seafood platter.
I decided to give this place another chance, thinking that over all, I really had a good experience , except for that one little, itty-bitty incident. I'm a forgiving person. :) So, I went back with my fiance, Andre.
I told him we had to have the Lobster Poutine. Sadly it was a disappointment..the portion was smaller than the last time..not much of anything..lobster or cheese. He loved the tomato salad though, couldn't stop talking about how fresh the tomatoes tasted..lol..Those freakin' tomatoes...the most consistant thing on the menu.
For Andre's main, I struck out once again. I told him to try the short-rib dish..sans plastic
It tasted boiled..no flavor. I know that its common practice to boil ribs to tenderize them and then bake them, basting them with sauce. My guess here is that they boiled it but did not baste long enough..
For my main I had...hmmmm...I can't remember. That can't be good.
Unfortunately, the only way I'll go back at this point would be for a 5 a7 to enjoy the music and ambiance and I would share a bunch of the appetizers with friends. Hey, I still haven't tasted their famous seafood platter.
Hey Chuck! I hear you're never at the restaurant anymore - maybe you should be.
Sadly, I give this restaurant 2.5 stars, until Chef Chuck comes back to us.
Seriously, I see Chuck here, I see customers...when the heck was this taken??