Jun 22, 2010

Normand Laprise's new Brasserie T! opens Friday at the Quartier des Spectacles

by Alexandra Forbes

I've already written this here, but it's worth repeating: the two restaurant openings of the year here in Montreal are the twin places owned by top restaurateurs Normand Laprise and Carlos Ferreira at the Quartier des Spectacles, the mammoth public space that the city has built to host all its many festivals.

Both spaces are identical in size and shape: two aquarium-like boxes that sit between sidewalk and street, strangely but pleasantly voyeuristic and open to the public spaces, as shows this P.R. shot:

Ferreira will open next Tuesday June 29 his Bar F, which you can read more about here.

But today was Laprise's day: he and partner Cristine Lamarche finally announced to the press the name of their new place: Brasserie T! 

Below, you can see the T! stamped on the huge window that opens onto the promenade that will be home to the Jazz Fest starting this Friday.

But more exciting than the name and the location is the food. We had a taste of the new menu - which will be composed of brasserie classics, most very reasonably priced.

The man in charge will be Normand's right-hand guy, Charles-Antoine Crête, who is not only cute and very fun (a fact I discovered watching the great documentary film Durs à Cuir) - but also an ace.

I like how they brought back something most quebecers find démodé: devilled eggs. These weren't just any stuffed eggs. Just a little over soft-boiled, the white was firm enough to hold the unctuous mayo-like filling, but still tender and ever so wobbly:

They totally hit the spot with the assorted terrines and sausages featured on the menu. As celeb-chef Daniel Boulud can attest, judging by the wild success of his two Bar Bouluds (one in N.Y. and another in London), haute charcuterie is the food trend du jour.

I like that Normand and Charles chose to serve a Québec-centered assortment. There's even a phaesant sausage which they chose to call Montreal Sausage, just in case clients feel queasy about ordering something so different from the usual pork or veal varieties. And, of course, there's creton, too, in all its fatty, meaty glory (pictured at right, meatier than the common ones, and less spiced) and head cheese (at left):

And here's a quintessential bistro classic that we don't see all that often but that is delicious in its simplicity: asparagus with sauce gribèche:

Chef Charles was all excited about the cheese and pastry cart, which he calls his "DJ booth du manger", or chariot de l'amour. It looks super modern, despite all the vintage mistmatched cups and serving utensils which they bought at garage sales. The slices of tree trunk that double as cheese platters were made by - gasp! - mr cute chef himself (and a little help from his dad).

It sits in the middle of the aquarium-like space and features wheels of some of Québec's top artisanal cheeses, as well as sweets like a marvellous strawberry and rhubarb tarte (trottoir aux fruits) on which they pour a concentrated strawberry sauce tableside.

There are also fun meringues with clusters of little "flavour bombs" such as spearmint or whisky or Ricard which Charles has dubbed "sputniks":

Oh, and how could I not mention the oh-so-soft chocolate cookies?

Brasserie T! opens this Friday and will serve dinner only until the end of July.

The restaurant will only get its liquor license on Monday July 12.

1425 rue Jeanne-Mance (corner of St. Catherine), tel. (514) 282-0808