Saint-Henri is Montreal's new trendy neighborhood, with a dynamism often compared to New York's Brooklyn. Some great places have been flourishing in recent years, especially on the main street Notre-Dame. The 3734 (from the address of the establishment) is one of those places. It represents the "Bistronome" trend: a perfect symbiosis between a friendly neighbourhood restaurant, elegant and tasty chef's dishes served as a shared plate and accessible prices.
For an outing with friends or a romantic evening, the 3734, open every evening of the week, offers an ideal setting. Relaxed with style, chic without pretension. The place consists of a large fully open room with a high ceiling and a large bay window overlooking the street. The space and its elegant layout evoke both a renovated industrial site and a small modernized Moroccan palace. A large bar with a nice selection of cocktails also welcomes you with open arms. The furniture is graphic and delicately decorated, with touches of wood and a framework reminiscent of Mediterranean countries such as Spain or Portugal.
The atmosphere matches the proposed culinary journey. With simple ingredients, chef Alexandre El Cherif creates refined and creative dishes that subtly evoke these countries flavours. We do not come to 3734 to simply feed ourselves or to satisfy our hunger, but to offer ourselves a sensual and relaxing moment based on food and its infinite possibilities. Each dish will be an opportunity to titillate our senses: visual composition, shades of vibrant colors and a bouquet of warm, tangy or more intense smells.
As soon as we arrive and throughout the meal, we are assisted by a charming, attentive and professional waiter, whose passion for cooking is evident. He takes the time to explain the dozen or so dishes that make up the menu, like so many jewels. The restaurant does not have a speciality but offers a set of dishes to share or not, in a tasting concept.
To put us in the mood, we choose the "Le Max" cocktail, composed of Cava, Rum, Grand Marnier and Mango. The waiter kindly offers us different alcohol alternatives if we want to change the composition. The drink is very pleasant and balanced, and you can see the fresh mango pulp delicately coating the mixture. A perfect appetizer to relax with while waiting for the first dish that will soon arrive.
We start the meal with Butternut Squash, a melt-in-the-mouth piece of squash with feta cheese, pumpkin seeds and grapes. What the menu does not say is that it is placed on a bed of fresh herbs (mint, coriander) and topped with cream which is then topped with angel hair squash. The combination of autumn colours and the caramelized smell make us stop the conversation and focus our attention on this alluring and appetizing dish. We sense the tasting pleasure that is coming: a perfect balance between the roasted squash, the acidity of the vinegar, the freshness of the mint, the sweetness of the cream, all enhanced by a play of textures between crisp, crunchy, creamy or juicy.
This dish alone puts us in a new state of mind. Time has stopped, and we are ready for relaxation and the pleasure of the senses. The R'n'B-lounge music, the diffused light and the cocktail are certainly part of it, and the combo works perfectly.
As a duck breast lover, I was curious to discover how it was prepared at the 3734. I wasn't disappointed! Once again, it is not a question of filling up greedily with duck, but rather of savouring each small piece and letting it melt in your mouth, slowly, to take in all the ingredients that were used in the preparation. The cooked meat is accompanied by a red wine sauce and a playful variation on the carrot theme: raw, fermented, roasted, pureed or in chips. The creamy purée has the effect of a Proust madeleine, soft like grandma’s homemade salted butter biscuit.
The foie gras is offered in the form of a small ingot nicely dressed with apples in ribbons or marinated in red wine, crispy gingerbread, hazelnut purée and raspberry sauce. Far from the usual onion confit, the choice of accompaniment here is rather rural, alternating between sweet and salty, sweet or sour. We begin to imagine the Chef’s different tests to arrive at the final formula.
If the quantities are controlled, we feel satisfied with all these combinations of flavours. However, I can't resist the call of dessert, curious to see how the creativity of the previous dishes is applied to the sweets. We choose to share the "lemon, poppy and meringue". The very visual plate will also be composed of a beautiful variation around the lemon theme: creamy, crumbly, meringue or crispy. Each bite is different and some are accompanied by a subtle hint of pepper that makes the flavours explode.
You must absolutely take note of this montreal bistro’s address for your next trip to St Henri. Skillfully designed and prepared quality dishes, a friendly environment, all at an affordable price. You will come away with beautiful instagram photos, but above all with the feeling of having offered your senses a voyage. Like a good film that you think back to several days after watching it, the flavours of butternut squash do not leave me. Yeah, I could go back to 3734 just for that.