900 JEAN-PAUL RIOPELLE PLACE, MONTREAL, QUEBEC
SOMEWHERE NEAR THE MIDDLE OF YOUR MENU DÉGUSTATION, THE SEARED LOCAL DUCK FOIE GRAS, PLATED WITH EARTHY PUFFED BUCKWHEAT, WARMED QUEBEC BLUEBERRIES AND AN INVIGORATING SPRINKLE OF TARRAGON LEAVES, GIVES WAY TO A PLATE OF TUNA BELLY, THE FISH HEATED JUST ENOUGH TO LIQUEFY ITS FAT—BUT NOT TO SHED IT—AND DELIVERED IN A SHINY, TRANSLUCENT POOL OF LEMON THYME-INFUSED VEAL JUS, PAIRED WITH A SUCCULENT LOBSTER MUSHROOM.
And after a single bite it seems suddenly obvious that the best time of the year to visit Toqué! has got to be the autumn, when Quebec’s bluefin season overlaps with the tail end of summer produce and with local mushrooms. But what about spring, when chef Normand Laprise’s playful, light touch matches that fresh and delicate new wild harvest so perfectly? Or peak summer, when Quebec’s peerless bounty is showcased here like nowhere else? The truth is that all days are good days at Toqué!, where for close to a quarter-century now, chef Laprise has been finessing a culinary pas de deux with the seasons that is all but unmatched in its spontaneity, range and grace. The cooking here is modern, inventive and emphatically Québécois.
It nods to the best of French tradition but dispenses with its dutiful structures and formalities. Chef Laprise calls his ingredient-driven style “une cuisine de produits,” and many of the ingredients he launched here—from cerf de Boileau to Gaspor suckling pig—are now mainstays at the best restaurants here and stateside. Laprise likes them to star on his plates undisguised, highlighting their natural qualities with playful and unexpected contrasts of flavour and texture. His compositions are often whimsical and always colourful. The wine list is deep. Service is professional and discreet, running like clockwork under the watch of business partner and front-of-house manager Christine Lamarche.
Tuesday to Friday
11:30 AM until 1:45 PM
Tuesday to Thursday
5:30 PM until 10:00 PM
5:30 PM until 10:30 PM
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALLEN McEachern