As reported in our latest top ten list (#4), the new and improved La Montée de Lait is one of our new faves. When they opened last year they had a pretty strong gimmick in place. As their name suggests, not only was dairy figured prominently, it was a featured part of each and every course. I remember hearing about La Montée de Lait from Michelle for the first time. I could see how the gimmick might work, but the thought of having dairy with every course still seemed a bit much (even if that probably isn't all that uncommon with, say, your average butter, milk, and cream-rich French meal). In recent months, the management at La Montée de Lait has ditched the gimmick and they've also renovated and redecorated, and, the reviews, which were already generally positive, have tended to turn into raves. I resisted going for a long time--mostly because of the unfortunate name (not particularly clever, not particularly funny)--but Michelle's lobbying efforts got stronger and stronger, more and more persuasive, until I could resist no longer. And am I ever glad I finally capitulated. We had one of the best meals there last week that we've had in recent memory.
The concept these days at La Montée de Lait is based on the tasting menu format. La Montée de Lait certainly isn't the only restaurant to have taken the tasting menu and tried to make it more approachable while maintaining its allure, but it's definitely one of the best. The basic formule is four courses for $40, and you then have the freedom to choose whatever you want from their selection of seafood dishes, plats salés, meat dishes, cheeses, and desserts (and I do mean freedom: apparently, some have been known to fall for a dish so strongly that they've scratched the next dish they had coming and ordered a repeat performance instead). The menu is inspired and is filled with all kinds of thoughtful touches and unexpected surprises: a zesty creamed garlic sauce and truffle oil came with two generous pieces of pan-seared bluefin tuna, oignons confits were served with a chèvre chaud-adorned eggplant pancake, their incredible selection of cheeses (both French and Quebecois) numbers in the twenties and portions are served with roasted almonds and stewed sultanas. They also have a very good selection of wines available by the glass. With the exception of a squash course, which lacked some cohesiveness, we were blown away by virtually everything we had. Hell, even our cheese course, which included an absolutely phenomenal Baragnaudes Roquefort--the best Roquefort either of us had ever encountered--wound up being breathtaking). We also got very attentive service, and we loved the intimate yet exuberant ambiance.
The next thing we knew, La Montée de Lait was on our top ten list.
La Montée de Lait, 371 Rue Villeneuve E., 289-9921 / 1 (888) 281-9921.