No. 38: Pastel
Pastel is undeniably a restaurant made for the Instagram age. All the dishes are intricate and pretty—some are decorated with flower petals—and they always seem ready-made for smartphone photos to be displayed on social media.
But fortunately, this new place in Old Montreal from chef Jason Morris and the hospitable Kabir Kapoor is not only about images—it’s also about flavours. A tiny cone made from the thinnest slice of roasted Jerusalem artichoke fills the mouth with a delicate mousse of the same root topped with a drop of lemon jelly and a sage flower, evoking summer feelings even if it’s freezing outside. Foie gras finds itself in perfect crunchy and sweet company with beets, Asian pears and hazelnuts.
The chef tries to take us outside the box while relying on classic combinations of acidity and fat, and it works well. He also plays with techniques and takes risks, whether that means creating a modernism-inspired tomato “sphere” or presenting a multi-course menu of small, delicate dishes in a city where the popularity of shared plates and tapas is undeniable. With its white tablecloths, sophisticated wine list and small details such as pastel-coloured chocolates served at the door as everyone is leaving, Pastel is obviously aiming for tthe fine dining crowd. And their response has been enthusiastic.