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A friend and I spent the long weekend in Montreal. That gave us two dinners to splurge on. We chose Au Pied de Cochon (reviewed in the last post) and Toqué (pronounced “to-KAY”), which seems to be the dean of Montreal’s fine dining restaurants. We hadn’t reserved in advance, and our hotel concierge was skeptical of our chances on a Saturday night at short notice. However, he managed to secure a 9:30pm reservation, which was just fine for us.

We chose chef Normand Laprise’s seven-course degustation menu ($88). The printed menu doesn’t tell you what you’ll be getting — it’s “an elaborate mystery menu of seven inspired courses.” To the best of my recollection, this is what we had:

  • Amuse bouche of cold tomato soup with a cucumber foam, and a crisp mozzarella stick with a chive running up its spine.
  • Scallop with strawberry foam. This was the one unsuccessful dish, as the strawberry foam totally overwhelmed the scallop. My friend, who doesn’t eat scallops, was given a seafood ceviche instead, which she enjoyed.
  • Tuna tartare on a tortilla, with an avocado puree. This combination of tastes was the second most successful course, after the bass (see below)
  • Grilled striped bass, which my friend and I considered the most successful course
  • Pork belly, served in a sealed glass jar. This presentation was amusing, but frankly the taste of the pork was completely forgettable.
  • Duck breast in a mild pepper sauce, which we noted was an ample sized portion for a tasting menu
  • Goat cheese sorbet, which was excellent
  • Dessert, which I have entirely forgotten

I apologize for the Spartan descriptions, but that’s about as much as I remember after a long and exhausting day. Service was terrific. The restaurant has a strange affectation of laying all the silverware at a 45-degree angle to the diner, and laying knives on their edge. It presents no inconvenience, and it is even a bit witty, but we wondered about the point of it. The restaurant is enormous and well appointed. Tables are both large and very generously spaced.

This was a very strong degustation menu, and for the $88 price a very compelling dining choice for the visitor to Montreal.

Toqué (900, place Jean-Paul-Riopelle, Montréal, Québec)

Food: ***
Service: ***
Ambiance: ***
Overall: ***

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