PASTEL IS A SHOWPIECE FOR THE INSTAGRAM ERA OF DINING OUT. Its dishes are always intricate, beautiful and photo-ready. Fortunately, this Old Montreal spot from the ever-hospitable Kabir Kapoor delivers on more than just visuals. The highly creative dishes that make up chef Julien Robillard’s now-standard six-course tasting menus consistently taste as good, if not better, than they look. As always, the offerings change frequently and are seasonally attuned. But under Robillard — Pastel’s third executive chef — there is a new and fervent commitment to sourcing local products in place of previously imported delicacies. A recent winter meal started with a small sunchoke taco (crisp sunchoke tuille filled with sunchoke panna cotta, topped with raw fermented-honey-marinated sunchoke and black truffle) to go with a large slice of roast koji-aged duck breast glazed in coffee shoyu with beet and hazelnut. Warmer weather brought snow crab with smoked potato, kohlrabi and apple in pastis-scented sabayon, and Gaspé halibut confited in snail butter with smoked maitake mushrooms. Summer also now means a patio wine bar with 20-odd seats, where — in lieu of tasting menus — guests can order small à la carte items grilled over binchō-tan. While Pastel was conceived in part to attract fine-dining tourists, it has won over discerning locals too with its refined sense of hospitality.
Photography by: Sarah Dimmock