Some friends were visiting from the west coast so we celebrated their last evening in Montreal by dining at a restaurant that was recommended to our group of six. Having recently relocating to this historic city (June 18th, 2012) I’m fortunate to have been introduced to Restaurant l’Express (Near Station Sherbrooke in Le Plateau-Mont Royal ). A place I would quickly understand to be one of Montreal’s ‘landmark’ bistros. (Zagat Guide)
We hovered on the sidewalk wondering if we were at the correct address. No sign, no address… just a menu posted outside the door. We skimmed the page, heard the clanking and hubbub from within and opened the door to be greeted by alluring aromas and enticing atmosphere.
We were completely famished from an exhausting day sightseeing (On foot… Ouch!) and devoured 2 baskets of bread while we looked at our menus. I’m sure it was good, but I could have eaten cardboard at that point and been satisfied. I read the descriptions of dishes on the multilingual menu. The traditional bistro fare offered a well-rounded choice of appetizers and entrées that delighted everyone at our table. I started with a refreshing ceviche followed by a warm goat cheese salad. I couldn’t even consider any other entrée once I discovered they offered Risotto au Homard (Lobster) as a special.
I was in heaven. As each dish arrived there was a flurry of forks being passed about to sample followed by resounding approval of each item. We ordered a bottle of red wine, Domaine Perrin Nature Syrah Blend 2009, which was lovely but had horrible sediment. The bottle was about 80% finished when the waiter noticed and swiftly lifted my grit filled glass and removed the bottle from the table. With all honesty, I fulled expect him to return with a replacement but as time passed by I realized he had craftily averted what he judged to be potential trouble. I don’t think he was aware I had observed the entire “cover-up”.
I choose not to mention it to my dining companions since none of them seemed affected and there was no need to spoil what was otherwise a perfect meal. The ambiance was cheerful yet classically elegant. The service was relaxed but efficient. Despite the fact that the room was at capacity (hopeful diners drooling on a wait-list) our reservations secured a no rush, leisurely meal.
The highlight of the evening came after the main course. We selected a variety from the menu and were warned by the waiter who stood in awe of our indulgent requests, “That’s a lot of dessert!”
When the sugary treats were delivered to our table the surrounding customers gasped, oohed and awed! Mine was the most amazing of all, Ille Flottante avec Caramel. A mountain of meringue floating in vanilla crème and topped with crispy glaze of caramel. Absolutely, hands down, the best dessert I have ever experienced. I was stuffed to the point of anguish by the time we waddled out into the muggy Montreal night.
There are few meals I’ve eaten that have prompted me to rave and reminisce let alone post a review. L’Express offered a challenge that will be hard to beat. Superb food, delightful ambiance, impeccable service all highlighted by fabulous table companions. Benny, Joanne, Martin, Karen and Atoosa… same time, same place, again next year?