No. 37: L’Express
WHO, IN 2017, WOULD POST A PHOTO OF SOMEONE SMOKING ON THE OPENING SCREEN OF THEIR WEBSITE ?
Well, L’Express does. The French restaurant embodies all the romantic ideas about Montreal being a pseudo-European city where good food and good wine are far more important than political correctness. It was founded in 1980 on Saint Denis Street, before it became chic and, more recently, fell on hard times again. But L’Express shrugs off the years, trends and fads without changing much. All this thanks to a timeless French brasserie decor created by the late architect Luc Laporte, a menu filled with well-rendered bistro classics, and ultra-professional waiters and bartenders (like the legendary Claude Masson) who know how to make regular customers feel like family.
The kitchen is now run by Jean-François Vachon, who revamped the Crescent Street bistro Thursdays but actually cut his culinary teeth here at L’Express under original chef Joël Chapoulie, who retired in 2012. The new menu is a delicate balance of continuity and change. There are new international touches like le thon tataki and burrata salad. But many of the original classics remain. Like bone marrow with coarse grey salt—no, St. John in London did not invent the concept—as well as the croque-monsieur, the chicken liver mousse with pistachios and the warm goat cheese on green salad. Guests are still greeted with the same crisp baguette with an elastic crumb and a big jar of sour gherkins. The wine list is impressive and the markup is very reasonable. And what has made L’Express such a crucial crossroad for actors, journalists, lawyers, chefs and other business people with crazy schedules has not changed: it’s still serving great food almost whenever you need it. For those who fancy a steak frites or a céleri rémoulade instead of poutine after midnight, this is the place to go. Bon appétit.
Monday to Friday
8:00 AM until 3:00 AM
10:00 AM until 3:00 AM
10:00 AM until 2:00 AM
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROGER GARIEPY