Every town has its share of culinary stars who attract buzz- in New York, it’s Daniel Boulud (Daniel, Bar Boulud, etc.) and David Chang (Momofuku Ko, Ssäm Bar, etc), in Paris, media darling Iñaki Aizpitarte (Le Chateaubriand) gets that honour. In Montreal, the crowd favourites are David McMillan and Fred Morin of Joe Beef fame, and Hubert Marsolais and Claude Pelletier of Club Chasse et Pêche and their much buzzed-about new venture, Le Filet…
So it comes as no surprise that Le Filet, the fish-and-seafood version of Chasse et Pêche, has been packed since day one. Working in their favour, besides keeping the flagship resto’s cooking steadily excellent over time, are the relatively low prices and the novelty factor of speacializing in things from lake and sea in a town not known for that.
If you like extra-attentive service, white tablecloths and a certain sense of occasion, stick with the always classy and romantic Chasse et Pêche, which, at its Old Montreal address, is easier to get to for most out-of-towners. But if you love the loud hum of a popular new place and prefer your dinners easy and informal, Le Filet should be on your must-try list. The place, with a long bar and an open kitchen, is always hopping with a hip-and-youngish crowd, decibels bouncing off the metallic wall panelling.
And the food? As expected, on the night of my visit, it was stellar. Pelletier and Marsolais have had help with that: chef Yasu Okazaki, also a partner, is the whiz manning the stoves. (A fourth partner, Patrick St-Vincent, is a sommelier who really knows his stuff and put together a very impressive wine list.)
If Club Châsse et Pêche built its reputation partly on the always excellent surf’n’turf dish, at Le Filet, too, they play that card to great effect. The heavenly, buttery and golden black cod came with tiny chorizo croutons. An oh-so-crispy scallop sat atop a melt-in-your-mouth chunk of pork shank oozing its juices onto the silky polenta that served as a base. The lobster and breaded sweetbreads were nearly as delicious, their textures a slight bit too similar to stand out.
As we head into spring and the days grow longer, one good idea is to go for an afternoon stroll around the Plateau neighbourhood (the restaurant sits across from the public tennis courts and a short walk from both Mount Royal Park and Saint Laurent Boulevard), and leisurely make it to Le Filet on foot or by bike for an early dinner (the place doesn’t open for lunch).
Le Filet, 219 Mont-Royal West, (514) 360-6060