No. 11: Montréal Plaza
THE UNASSAILABLE CREDENTIALS OF PLAZA’S MAIN PLAYERS— FRONT-OF-HOUSE MANAGER SÉBASTIEN BLANCHETTE, AND A PAIR OF TOQUÉ! ALUMNI, FORMER SOUS-CHEF CHERYL JOHNSON AND THE 14-YEAR VETERAN AND LONG-TIME CHEF DE CUISINE CHARLES-ANTOINE CRÊTE—MEANT THAT THIS RESTAURANT OPENED WITH GREATER FANFARE THAN ANY OTHER IN RECENT MEMORY.
Expectations can be a burden. But Plaza surpassed them and, now in its second year, it has settled into a uniquely creative groove. Plaza’s design is striking, elegant and contemporary. A closer look reveals flourishes of eccentricity: a goldfish bowl taking up valuable space on the pass, say, or the dollhouse dangling over one table, upside down and rotating slowly, like a chandelier in a weird dream. The food is exuberantly original, occasionally busy with competing ideas, and best enjoyed shared (especially in the form of the shared tasting menu, a steal at $80 per person). Crête, widely admired across the industry, is known as an improvisational virtuoso in the kitchen with an outsized personality to match.
Johnson provides an enabling balance. Together, they push boundaries and give every indication they’re having lots of fun with food that happens to be unique and seriously good. Culinary references are far-flung and from the past. For example, Plaza’s take on escargots à la bourguignonne is local whelks bathed in miso butter. The menu runs from yakitori, to a slow-cooked confit of Arctic char with smoked cream, to a foie gras sandwich. Salmon tartare packs the crunch of puffed rice. Who else serves boudin noir with onion rings, or duck with squid? Exactly. Service, meanwhile, is attentive and professional, and the wine list, quite dazzling and rich in deals. It is one of those rare restaurants that would rather see you drink a great Burgundy than make a lot a lot of money on it. Best to take advantage.
Monday to Sunday
5:00 PM until 11:00 PM
PORTRAIT BY CARLOS GUERRA, ALL OTHERS COURTESY OF THE MONTRÉAL PLAZA