The Hochelaga district continues to surprise us with new shops and restaurants and its rejuvenating energy! There are more and more trendy places that give this area of Montreal a boost. Thanks to these new restaurants and bars, Saint-Catherine Street East becomes an increasingly interesting gourmet destination. The restaurant Le Flamant has just added to the list of addresses to remember if you are looking for a good place to eat in Hochelaga!
It was during their first official opening week that we went to try the unique experience they have to offer.
When you enter the restaurant, your eyes are immediately drawn towards the bar. The menu is displayed using colourful magnetic letters reminding us of how we used these magnets as children to create words on the fridge. This playful side of the decor already plunges us into the somewhat nostalgic culinary environment that Le Flamant has to offer.
There are not really any other accents of this kind in the restaurant, the rest of the decor is more sober, but still quite comforting. The furniture was chosen with care, we see that the cool looking design was an important aspect of the decor. The various lighting fixtures that delimit the different sections of the dining room are very nicely arranged, it would have been nice though if the light was dimmed a little more to create more privacy in between each table.
We were guided to the back of the restaurant to have a cocktail while our table was being prepared, we immediately notice the splendid cuisine. We all know places where we can experience the concept of an open kitchen, Le Flamant pushed that concept to its maximum by giving full access to the kitchen. We find ourselves literally in the kitchen, with the cooks, installed at the small ledge along the wall; it's really great to see them at work and to be able to interact with them!
Then, at the back of the restaurant, you will find a large wooden table that gives you a front row seat to all the action that takes place in the kitchen. This is definitely the kind of place where it is nice to settle with a group of friends. It would be nice if, in the future, some décor could be added to make that area even more welcoming and friendly, because the large table seems a little lost in all that space.
After enjoying our first cocktail, we went to our table and comfortably seated ourselves to start the meal. Speaking of cocktails, the menu does not present many choices, but each of them were created with care and meticulousness, there is something to please everyone. We opted for a revisited version of the classic Margarita and French75.
Regarding the wines, they offer a nice selection of red and white at very affordable prices.
The food menu offers several options: choose from dishes "à la carte", according to your desires or you can trust the kitchen staff and choose one of their sharing options according to your appetite. Choose from a 35$, 55$ or 75$ menu. The kitchen will prepare a sharing menu according to the amount per person that suits you best. We chose to take the 55$ menu, which allowed us to try about 7-8 courses including dessert. There were three of us and it was just enough for a good meal. The 35$ menu is a better option if you want to nibble without eating too much. The 75$ menu is the gourmet option par excellence, which allows you to taste almost every item on the menu!
We first receive the pork liver mousse, beautifully presented like an "éclair", the classic French pastry. The unctuous mousse was found in between a flaky dough, its texture was velvety and its taste rich. A grape jelly as well as fresh grape pieces decorate and pair with the dish perfectly. Chrysanthemum flowers and shiso leaves added some freshness. We would have clearly eaten more than one serving, as this dish was carefully executed and absolutely delicious.
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The next dishes we received were the beef salad, homemade braided cheese and culurgiones. The beef salad surprised us a lot, tender beef strips served with grilled dandelions, finely sliced mushrooms and mint and shiso leaves. The meat was tender and full of flavours, each element that made up the plate had its place and made it all very tasty.
The homemade cheese was amazing, its texture was absolutely incredible! We also found on the plate some date chutney and a cashew purée, the sweet taste of the chutney and the creaminess of the nut puree perfectly accompanied the cheese. Nigella seeds, related to the cumin family, gave the dish notes of very interesting spices.
We were then served the culurgiones, a classic ravioli recipe from Sardinia, an island in the Mediterranean Sea. These potato stuffed ravioli were covered with a parmesan and hazelnut cheese sauce in addition to grilled hazelnuts and freshly grated parmesan cheese on top, resulting in a rather hearty and gourmet dish. The sauce was rich, the taste of the hazelnuts is perfectly complemented with the cheese.
Up next, the main dishes! A cavatellis tourtière, linguini carbonara and a Cornish game hen. We greatly appreciated the fact that the pasta was homemade. It was fresh and al dente as it should be. The cavatellis were so comforting, you automatically get nostalgic for your grandmother's food as soon as you take the first bite. The real taste of the spices that you find in a tourtière, mixed with pork, some mushrooms and old cheddar cheese, that is a winning pasta recipe!
The linguini, meanwhile, respect the traditional carbonara recipe, made according to the rules of the art. A creamy sauce made from egg yolks, some salty pancetta and a good amount of parmesan cheese; nothing more, nothing less, for a highly appreciated result.
We finished the meal with the Cornish Game hen. A colourful plate, composed of several pieces of carefully grilled chicken, accompanied by pozoles (white corn kernels), radish, jalapeño, coriander and avocado. A very savory sauce made with tomatillos filled the bottom of the plate. The chicken was juicy and tender and the garnishes enhanced the dish with some fresh and tasty flavours.
We finished that delicious meal with two very unique desserts. A coconut milk fermented cake and some sfogliatelle, an Italian pastry. The texture of the cake was very interesting, soft and spongey, at the same time. Under the piece of cake, there was preserved ginger, lime zest and a crumble. The mix of textures and flavours was quite successful.
As for the sfogliatelle, the chef proudly pointed out that she was one of the few people who could make this puff pastry by hand. This Italian dessert was stuffed with a white miso and tahini paste, and placed on a creamy maple sauce.
Our experience at Le Flamant restaurant was very pleasant. The staff was attentive and we felt welcomed from the moment we arrived. Our food expectations were definitely surpassed, we can not wait to go back!