1690 rue Ontario | Montreal
Metro - Papineau (then a short walk)
This is the last place on my "must eats" for this trip so I am lucky to get a table. I tried to get here as early as possible today to be sure I I didn't miss the opportunity.
I was pretty surprised that this highly recommemnded place is in such a non-descript neighborhood. With it's laquered storefront, globe lighting, thick venetian blinds and awnings, the exterior stands out in the neighborhood. It really looks like a Parisian bistro.
Au Petit Extra iis recommended by many guidebooks and forums on the net. It was also personally recommended to me by the Montreal foodies
The interior at Au Petit Extra is beautiful. It come with all the French trimmings. Creamy ochre walls, wood floors, huge blackboard menus, bistro firniture, schoolhouse lamps mixed with big chandeliers and large ornate mirrors. It's the perfect "last dinner" for my Montreal adventure.
The blackboard menu has no surprises except for that it is completely in French. If you don't read French I am positive your waiter will be happy to assist. I am actually impressed that I can read almost the entire menu.
The menu starters range from C$6.25 to $9.75, main courses go from C$18 to $24. Everything seems like a good value considering the beautiful preparations and atmosphere.
Tonight no duck in this bistro will be safe. Why? Because I am doing one of my vacation favorites...
For my starter I splurge and order the Foie Gras Maison aux Pommes. At C$14.75 this is a Toys R Us bargain. I've seen this on other menus at $20 or more. The Foie Gras starter is beautifully presented. It come with three small, thick slices, toast wedges, sauteed apples and currants. This is the worlds most decadant dish. Poor duck. The foie gras was very rich and creamy and perfectly matched to the trimmings. One thing I didn't really like was the toast they served with it. I thought it was a bit too think and I perfer it to be more bland since the toast is just a vehicle to get the foie gras to your mouth.
Along with my foie gras I ordered a glass of muscat wine which is a sweet wine to compliment the foie gras. It's very nice but I don't finish it all and save some for dessert.
Along with the meal you are also served your choice of a gazpacho (?) Or a salad. I choose the salad. It a nice simple mixed green salad with a tasty vinagrette dressing topped with cucumbers and delicious spiced & candied mixed nuts. I think they were spiced with curry. I just want a bag of those nuts to take home.
For my main course I order the Magret de Canard aux Cerises. That's duck breast with cherries. Once again the dish is beautifully presented and at C$23.75 I consider it a good deal. The duck is sliced and cooked medium with a reduction made from cherries. It was very well prepared and I don't think I ever remember having such tender Magret de Canard. It was nice because it had just a slight layer of delicious fat, even thought I opted to cut some off. The duck was served with a few wedges of roast potato (too dry) and sauteed cabbage slaw which I thought was a bit weird. Regardless of the strange sides, the duck was worth it. I think I will send them my roast potato recipe.
Along with my main course I ordered a glass of grenache-syrah which was from Australia. It was decent but not in the French style, definitly new world wine.
Time for another decadant treat, cheese course. How could I leave a real French bistro with ordering the cheese course? The cheese hert is served at C$1.50 per 10 grams. I don't know metrics but that doesn't sound too bad. I just want a little bit so since it's by the weight I will see what they can work out.
The cheese plate prepared for me had 3 varieties of cheese, a morbier, camambert and a goat bouchon. The goat cheese was the best but the cambembert wasn't so tasty. The cheese was served with some crisp toasted french bread. In fact it was too hard and crunchy considering how thick the toast was. I think I would have preferred some standard soft baguette. One note, the chesse was served way to cold and not brought to a higher temperature after leaving the refrigerator. "Fromage" at Au Petit Extra" is charged by weight and my small plate of cheese costs only C$6
My next test is creme brulee, then I promise I will stop eating. The creme brulee here is C$4.75 but it's not a very large portion. The "creme" is as smooth as silk and creamy like soft butter. It was very well made. It's too bad that the crispy sugar topping was way over browned and left a burnt taste in my mouth (as did the service).
Au Petit Extra is really a Parisian treat right here in Montreal. Once again I am transported away to Paris after entering the doorway. My service was professional and friendly, but questionable. When I arrived it was fast and attentive but it quickly became less personal and slow once the place got busy. My waiter passes by many times without acknowledgement or a glance. Somehow, at one point I felt forgotten. How sad. (They don't know I am sitting here reviewing them on the spot).
Wouldn't a simple, "I'll be right with you" have helped? A good meal can be distroyed by bad service.
For atmosphere and food I would give them an easy 4 hearts. For service they bombed and get 3, but on the shakey low end. They seem to need more help. My experience here went from exceptional to questionable.
I guess if you are hanging out, eating, laughing and drinking with friends, slow service may not be such an issue.
My total bill this evening was C$70.17 (US$56), considering how much food I ate and the 2 glasses of wine I drank I guess that's not too bad.
As I departed I did not even get as much as an "au revoir".
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