To say that L’Express does not change much year to year is an understatement. You could easily order lunch or dinner there today from a menu you nicked from the place as a souvenir back in its opening year of 1980. Why the old formula still works so well is complicated. Part of it is that this classic bistro embodies the fantasy of Montreal being a pseudo-European city, where great food and wine and joie de vivre trump all other considerations. Another factor is that the late Luc Laporte’s design for the place—classic brasserie with industrial finishes—was so inspired that even now, unchanged, it remains undated. Around it, St. Denis Street has fallen back on hard times, but L’Express soldiers on, buoyed by its loyal team of ultra-professional waiters and a menu of well-rendered bistro classics, now executed by Jean-François Vachon. Yes, that still includes poached marrow bones with coarse grey salt, saumon au cerfeuil, steak tartare (bien relevé, of course) and those perfect frites. The francophile wine list is replete with reasonably priced treasures.
Photos: VALÉRIA BISMAR