No. 31: Montréal Plaza
No new Montreal restaurant in recent memory has opened to such heated anticipation as this one.
The reason is the track record and calibre of its 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.
The latter is widely known in the industry to be an improvisational virtuoso in the kitchen with an outsized personality to match. And while Plaza’s design is striking, elegant and contemporary, a closer look reveals the flourishes of an eccentric. (Say, a goldfish bowl taking up valuable space on the pass, 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. Plaza’s take on escargots à la bourguignonne is local whelks bathed in miso butter. Giant BC oysters get slivered and stuffed back in their shells with broccoli and sauce mornay.
The new duck a l’orange is tender slices of magret tossed with tender confit of duck gizzards, duck hearts, sautéed squid and popcorn—all drizzled with orange sauce. The service is attentive and professional and the wine list is short but boasts great range and a commendably modest markup.