By far the best dining experience I have had in quite some time happened at Toque! in Montreal. I read about the French restaurant before even going to Canada and I had a hunch that it would be a lovely place. When James and I arrived, we were led to a lovely corner table by window framed with sumptuous orange silk drapes.
James tried the Sangria cocktail and I ordered the champagne sampler to start. The wine steward, Samuel Chevalier-Savaria, came to the table and explained the characteristics of two types. Our favorite was the Extra-Brut, Fidele, Vouette et Sorbee, Champagne (on the right). The rose champagne was interesting but not as smooth. Still - it was so much fun to learn about the grapes and sample! The experience was a great way to prepare for amazing food and service.
The champagne sample was served with a gorgeous oyster. It was very fresh, of course, and you can see the size of it here. Lovely herb relish on top...
The chef prepared a dish for the house, complimentary, and we thoroughly enjoyed the peaches-and-cream corn puree. It was simple with only a bit of butter and sea salt but we loved it.
For first course, James ordered the vegetable salad with fruit glaze. The presentation was beyond impressive. The colors of beets, tomatoes, raspberries and curled zucchini meshed to form a beautiful palate.
On recommendation by our waiter, I ordered the foie gras terrine. It was served with corn puree and glaze, fried quinoa and yogurt. Get this - the yogurt was frozen and the tiny orange flecks that you see in the picture are flower petals!! The taste was rich and deep and I had to stop eating at one point to just savor the experience. The champagne went very well with this dish.
For our main courses, James opted for the beef tenderloin. It was served with beets, potatoes, fried leek, garlic confit, beet glaze and bordelaise sauce. He said it was amazing and even enjoyed the beets. At one point I looked over at his plate and there was nothing left. Ha! That's compliments to the chef...
I ordered the duck magret which I had read was one of Chef Normand Laprise's signature dishes. It was served with coco beans, basil, cauliflower puree, wild mushrooms and Madera sauce. Words fail to capture the flavors. The duck was prepared perfectly and I really enjoyed the addition of basil and little raspberries! I too almost cleaned my plate.
We each ordered a glass of wine with dinner and I asked that the wine steward choose one for my entree. Because we still had a few sips left, we decided to go ahead with a cheese platter instead of dessert. The choices were creamy and full of flavor, served with candied walnuts and apricots in honey.
Beyond inventive and delicious food, Toque! presents a luxurious dining experience. The service is top notch and the ambiance in the dining room is lively but intimate. Even though there were other diners seated at tables around us, we almost felt like we were in a private space. Toque! is romantic and would also work well for special occasions with family.