Brunoise

I started out trying to write just a few lines about Brunoise as part of our Montréal Guide, but found I couldn't resist sharing more details of this, our top pick restaurant in Montréal and a place I can only dream of having less than three thousand miles away.Brunoise is an elegant little restaurant done up in muted earth tones on a sleepy street off the beaten path. We made a reservation about a week in advance and on our Tuesday night visit all 13 tables and 8 bar seats were filled with chic, mostly middle-aged Québécois. All dinners at Brunoise are served as a three course mix-and-match prix-fixe: prices (all in the price range of $42-52 Canadian) are listed next to each entree and include the appetizer and dessert of your choice. Our dinner started with an elegant amuse of onion velouté with hazelnut and chorizo. Everything in the bread basket that followed was delicious. Our appetizers were even better: a composition of rare king's earing mushrooms with sundried tomatoes, a gelée, and microgreens that was an unreal mix of flavors and textures and a rabbit confit with chickpeas, chorizo, peas, onions, radish, and mint that was out of this world. The most telling assessment I could give at this point in the meal was that everything was as close as I had found to the caliber of the food at French Laundry, though less ornately assembled and in more substantial portions.My entree of seared scallops with caramelized fennel, celeriac purée, caviar, and something else I have forgotten had pure sea and earth essence and was just as good as the appetizers. Oren's entree of beef and veal cheets with polenta and asparagus was still good, but less impressive than the rest. Same trend with the desserts: the evening's special apple tart was tasty but nothing too out of the ordinary; the signature panna cotta with basil and passion fruit, however, was amazing -- truly delicious and perhaps one of the best desserts I've had. The petit fours were also excellent .In addition to the top-notch food, Brunoise has fantastic service. Most of the staff has been with the restaurant since it opened and they truly know and love the food. The wine list is a scant two page, but includes some very unusual selections and a few wines by the 250ml pour.Brunoise is closed on Sunday and Monday nights or we would have gone earlier and gone often. We actually tried to convince the owner that he should open an outpost on the Peninsula, where we would promise to visit at least weekly. Brunoise3807 St-André, Montréal514.523.3885

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Explanation of ratings

Attire: Chic elegant -- this is a place where quality counts for more than flash.