That's what I call being on-trend: chef Normand Laprise and partner Christine Lamarche (pictured above) have re-done the bar at their famed Toqué! restaurant, and turned it into a "gastro-bar" where clients - even solo ones - can sit down for a casual, relatively inexpensive dinner.
The menu available at the bar - starting December 1 - will be much shorter than Toqué's regular menu, but also less expensive. "We think that's what people want these days, convivial dining without any fuss", says Laprise.
Another big change: Toqué! is now open for lunch, following a six-YEAR hiatus! And what's best: at great prices. The main course prices include a choice of one of the appetizers, plus coffee and mignardises. What's not to love?!
I recently tasted some of the dishes on the new menu and can safely say they're SO worth the $25-28 dollar price tag. Take the smoked salmon, for example: could have been that boring old plate of salmon, capers, onions and toasted bread, but it actually had one or two plusses. Tiny segments of lime gently "harvested" to keep their gentle skins intact, were sprinkled on top, nearly invisible, making the citrus tang pop in the mouth at unexpected intervals. Fried bread crumbs gave the whole a welcome crunch, while the crème fraiche played bass in the whole tangy ensemble.
Not all smoked salmon platters are created equal, didn't you know? (Although one would hardly guess it, from looking at this blah photo...)
Also excellent: the desserts. A well-known magazine editor, sitting beside me, swooned over her chocolate pot-de-crème which was a symphony of textures: crunchy meringue, bubbly mousse, toothsome brownie bits, nuts, froth, everything!
My own dessert wasn't far behind. An apple crumble that wasn't really an apple crumble. The fruit and the topping weren't baked together, as we do at home. Fat apple wedges which still had crispness and a pleasant acidity sat under a blanket of bits of crumble topping, which clearly had been cooked separately for ultimate crunch. The ice cream was, of course, speckled with tiny dots of vanilla. The real stuff....
My verdict? Go. Now.
Midis Toqué! 11:30 am to 2:00 pm – Tuesday to FridayDinner: 5:30 pm to 10:30 pm – Tuesday to Saturday