Dear gourmets, Le Pastel is THE gastronomic table that you should absolutely add to your list. And put it at the top! The two partners Jason Morris and Kabir Kapoor, creators of the restaurant Le Fantôme in Griffintown (also on your list!) join forces with chef Louis Deligianis to sign this new escapade to the culinary country. With refined and creative dishes that combine Japanese influences with the treasures of Quebec's terroir, Pastel easily juggles classicism and innovation.
Pastel is not only a place to eat but a complete experience. When you walk through the large glass doors, you immediately plunge into a world dedicated to the passion for cooking, the central element of the place. To the right of the stoves, a subtly modern bar area, and to the left a more classic dining room. Much like in the theatre, we have fun watching the chefs get agitated, and their creative energy spreads throughout the place.
The site combines the heritage atmosphere of Old Montréal (beautiful space and ceiling height, large windows and brick walls) with a chic and minimalist layout with an almost obsolete charm. But when you look at it, pastel touches have been applied roughly on the brick walls, like a child gesture. The wise powder pink tablecloths are combined with a blackboard and the beautiful natural light is complemented by very stylish luminaires. Announcing the cuisine, the atmosphere is refined, comforting and stimulating at the same time.
The menu also plays with discreet chic, reinforcing the effect of curiosity: No attitude in the names, just the basic ingredients. The unique style of the Pastel is found in the combination of simple products (courgette, lemon, poultry...) inspired by the precise preparation and presentation techniques of Japanese cuisine (tataki, roller, broth...). Recipes vary according to the inspiration of the team in the kitchen and the seasonal products. A food and wine pairing are also available and the drinks menu list is meticulous: a precise selection with many organic and natural wines, which will satisfy you in terms of character and perfume.
Our choice is the three-course menu table d'hôte. Without knowing it, we embark for three hours of tasting and lovely discussions that we will never see happening. My guest and I select different dishes for each service in order to get a broader idea of the chefs' expertise. The experience begins with a delicate appetizer: a fine, crispy courgette flower, nicely presented and reminiscent of tempura (Japanese donut), with the sweetness and melt-in-the-mouth flavour of vegetables. The tone is set.
The first service will allow us to taste the scallops with morels, mashed Daikon (Chinese radish) and an emulsion of buttermilk (buttermilk). The medallions are cooked on the edge to help caramelization, and it is a success, it is firm and it melts in the mouth. All the ingredients are perfectly balanced in terms of taste and quantity.
On the poultry side, we are on more forestry flavours: Cannelloni of duck cut with a knife, accompanied by chanterelles mushrooms, beans and an emulsion of foie gras for the finish, poured directly into the plate by the waiter. Here too, the presentation is meticulous and the tastes are combined in a natural and playful way.
One of the strengths of our experience is the service. Restaurants where the staff accompany you with such professionalism and kindness are rare. Jonathan took care of our table with real sympathy and a perfect balance between attention, meaningful discussions and discretion. During the meal, other waiters will come to offer us homemade bread, make sure that our tablecloth is clean or introduce the plates. Beyond the food, pastel watches over its guests and ensures that you have a pleasant time, with as much precision as for the dishes.
Now it's time for our second service. For my part, it will be the Fish option. The day's arrival consists of beautiful pieces of monkfish cooked to perfection, accompanied by asparagus, candied lemon, butter and asparagus juice. It is soft, crunchy, fruity and light and I take all my time to enjoy it.
My guest will succumb to duck confit with onions cooked in beer, plancha salad (which gives it a slightly softened and smoky taste), and a sweet mashed carrot. Once again, everything is finely designed, the cooking is impeccable and the cooking juice will be added delicately to our plate. The piece of duck is firm and tender at the same time and delights us with every bite.
The meal ends on a high note with two desserts, each offering a variation on their respective theme. On one side a candied pear stuffed with pear sorbet and rolled in oats (custom-made dessert concocted directly by the chef for those allergic to nuts) and on the other side a strawberry Shortcake: ice cream on a cheese cream with a fruit coulis in the centre and sprinkled with strawberry tiles on top. Crunchy, soft and melt-in-the-mouth: combinations works well and it's still chic and tasty.
After all these combinations of flavours, all our senses are satisfied. But it is not over, Pastel still has delicate attention to close the experience: some cute Mignardises: Brownie and balsamic apple vinegar, Fruit paste, Banana-maple and Dark chocolate ganache and Earl grey. We can only appreciate it!
With its tasty, fine, precise cuisine and meticulous service, Pastel is definitely your next destination in Old Montreal. If the Michelin Gastronomic Guide existed in Montreal, this restaurant would undoubtedly win several stars. The clientele composed of local professionals and gourmets in search of discovery is not mistaken: Le Pastel is like nothing you have ever tried before. The associations are unexpected and it takes talent to take up this challenge with such naturalness. Here again, the chefs prove their know-how, whether in the kitchen or in the creation of an environment with a thoughtful identity. Unwashed chic or channelled creativity, as you prefer to call it, you will come out with a nice smile on your face anyway.