Every year, EnRoute, Air Canada’s in-flight magazine publishes their exclusive list of Canada’s 10 Best New Restaurants. All new restaurateurs wait with baited breath to see if they make the grade. This year, the only restaurant in Montreal to make the top ten this year is Salle à manger. Since I’d never been there, I thought this was a great excuse to go and check it out.
Like many other people out there looking for their soul mates on the Internet, one of my friends often meets her dates at the bar at the Salle à manger. I had to go see for myself if the ambiance could really lead to some interesting encounters.
Over the years, a few Montreal restaurants have made EnRoute’s coveted Top Ten list and many of them are still around serving up excellent fare: Le Local, Bistro Bienville, and Liverpool House. So, let’s see what the new contenders are like and what they have to offer.
First of all, we are on familiar ground since Salle à manger is run by the former owners of the Réservoir on Duluth. I absolutely adore love their brunch, and since the same chef is in charge of the kitchen at Salle à manger, it’s a very good sign of things to come.
Immediately upon entering the room, I could understand why my single friend likes to meet her dates here. The room is nice and airy and has a lot of ambiance. The clientele is mostly made up of hip locals in their twenties who live in the trendy Plateau neighbourhood. My friend usually has her dates meet her for a drink at the bar first, and then if things go well, she suggests getting comfortable and moving into the dining room. Who knows where things may end by the time the desserts roll around?
The Salle à manger offers contemporary Quebec cuisine with an emphasis on using locally grown produce and high quality meat. Meat lovers will really enjoy their hearty servings. (They even butcher their own their own meat on the premises, so I got to taste an excellent boudin aka ‘blood pudding’). Blood pudding you say? Well, believe it or not a well-prepared blood pudding can be delicious!
My first dish was a beautifully rendered assembly of textures consisting of tender venison carpaccio with a smooth, creamy mayonnaise, crisp arugula and shavings of padano cheese that rounded out the flavours with a nice touch of salt. The main dish was exceptionally tasty — maple roasted roast leg of duck, slow-cooked for seven hours and served with morsels of foie gras and wild mushrooms.
The desserts were beautifully presented in a parfait glass and the chocolate mousse, layered with brownies, coffee-flavoured cream and pear sorbet was a real treat.
Thanks to EnRoute, I discovered a new gem of a restaurant, and as I write these words, I can say that thanks to Salle à manger and the enchanting ambiance, my single friend is no longer single (after a very successful meal that continued beyond dessert and coffee). All’s well that ends well.
Salle à manger
1302 Mount Royal East, Montreal, QC, H2J 1M4, (514) 522-0777
Open everyday from 5 p.m. to midnight
Dress code: casual chic
Reservations are highly recommended
Average bill (before tax, tip and alcohol): $50 per person