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Restaurant Bonaparte

January 22, 2015

When it came time to plan our Eastern Canada trip, one request I had for my husband was that we plan at least one nice meal at a fancy restaurant in Montreal.  In advance of our trip, we had our hearts sit on a particular restaurant located in Old Montreal that was owned by a celebrity chef.  Unfortunately, this particular restaurant only took reservations 30 days in advance of the day you wanted to dine there, so we patiently counted down the days and waited.  When 30 days exactly came on the calendar, I furiously tried to make reservations online (the only way they take reservations), but kept getting an error message.  I tried calling the restaurant to no avail.  Then, I thought perhaps I needed to wait until exactly 30 days, down to the hour that I wanted to make reservations and then maybe the spot I wanted would open up.  Again, still no dice.  A few hours later, I checked again, and next thing you know, the restaurant’s website said that the date I wanted reservations for was completely booked.  What?!?!?  How could that be?  In an attempt to try to book a reservation at this restaurant, my husband took advantage of his credit card’s personal concierge service that was made to help their guests make difficult restaurant reservations, secure tickets to shows and sporting events, and arrange for gift delivery for special occasions among other items.  My husband explained our predicament to the concierge and she promised to do her best to try to get reservations.  By now, I knew it was a lost cause.  Within 24 hours the concierge contacted my husband back and explained that indeed the restaurant was completely booked the night we wanted to go.  Trying to be helpful, the concierge gave us recommendations for several other restaurants in the area that she could help us book a table at.  In her notes to my husband her #1 recommendation was a romantic, traditional French restaurant a few blocks from where we wanted to be that she thought would be perfect for what we were looking for.  After looking into this particular option, we decided to go for it and asked the concierge to secure us a table.

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Located on the quiet, cobbled back alleys that Old Montreal is known for, Restaurant Bonaparte is almost like stepping back into time.  As we wandered the these cobbled streets on a Sunday evening as the rain began to fall, my husband and I almost felt like we were transported to the streets of Paris, France.  As we stepped into the venerable, classic French restaurant that prides itself on serving “exquisite cuisine with French savoir-faire…showcasing the finest fresh regional products” you feel like you’re stepping into an old French aristocrats house.  With a full bar, dim, intimate lighting, the restaurant feels like someone’s living room.  A meal at Restaurant Bonaparte is like an experience to be savored, much the way you would with a glass of your most favorite wine.

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Upon being seated, our waiter explains to us that dinner is either served a la carte or part of 2 different tasting menus.  My husband, being one who wants to experience as much as possible knows right away that he’ll be choosing one of the two tasting menus.  Myself, a little bit more selective (or shall we say picky) a palate decides that a la carte would work for me just fine.

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For my first dish, I chose the classic French onion soup.  However, in an ode to using fresh regional products, and considering we are in French Canada and not really in France, Restaurant Bonaparte’s caramelized onion soup is made with maple syrup.  Honestly, I couldn’t taste the maple syrup in the soup and it was hard t tell if the soup was actually any sweeter than you’d normally get French onion soup, so I’m not sure what effect the maple syrup may or may not have had.  Instead of a small soup bowl where the entire bowl is dominated by the bread and melted cheese that you normally see for French onion soup, at Restaurant Bonaparte, the French onion soup is served in a large, shallow bowl and resting lightly atop the bowl is a crostini of crusty French bread with melted cheese atop it.  I actually prefer the former, rather than the latter, presentation for French onion soup, but that doesn’t mean that this wasn’t any less delicious.  The soup was rich and flavorful and piping hot on this rainy Sunday evening in Montreal.

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As part of my husband’s tasting menu he started off with a bowl of lobster bisque enhanced with ginger.  My husband is more the lobster lover than I am, but he’s definitely not a soup type of person.  However, he really did enjoy this lobster bisque.  I’m not sure if it was because it was lobster bisque, or if it was due to the ginger, which he loves, or if it was just the perfect start to our nice French dinner, but he finished off his bowl of lobster bisque in record time.  I didn’t even get a taste of it.  So, I’m going to assume that he thought it was pretty awesome.

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My husband’s next course was homemade smoked salmon served with truffle oil.  I know my husband was really looking forward to this dish because he’s a huge fan of smoked salmon.  Any time he can get his hands on some smoked salmon, he’s all over it.  And recently, he’s gained a newfound appreciation for truffle oil, so it’s a no brainer when you combine smoked salmon and truffle oil together that his mouth would be watering.  The smoked salmon was so artfully arranged on the plate with some hers, capers and diced peppers, it almost looked like a rose.  What else would you expect from a high end French restaurant?  My husband loved the smoked salmon.  Homemade smoked salmon is always the best because you know its fresh, and he could definitely taste the truffle oil, which he said just enhanced the flavor of the smoked salmon.

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For my next course, I opted to order the lobster salad with hazelnut oil and maple syrup dressing.  I know I said I’m not a huge fan of lobster, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like lobster, especially if its done right.  Again, as an ode to being in Canada, the maple syrup dressing was intriguing.  I was surprised by just how much lobster came with the salad.  I was actually expecting a big plate full of greens and small chopped up pieces of lobster meat that I could barely see.  Instead, this was more like a whole lobster tail poached and set aside next to a small mound of mixed greens and shredded carrots.  I couldn’t believe how much lobster there actually was, and it was good.  The lobster was perfectly poached, slightly sweet and perfectly tender.  The salad was delicious and the maple syrup dressing added just a touch of sweetness which matched well with the lobster meat.  A delicious lobster salad.

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The next course in my husband’s tasting menu was the mushroom ravioli perfumed with fresh sage.  Not being a mushroom fan at all, I thought to myself, better him than me.  However, it turns out my husband absolutely loved this ravioli dish.  While he eats mushrooms, he doesn’t go out of his way to order mushrooms.  But in this case, he said these were so good and rich and delicious.  He was glad this was a small portion rather than an entrée-sized portion because he said that the mushroom ravioli was so rich that having an entrée-sized portion would have been hard to finish.  But 4 raviolis was just the perfect size to get a good taste of the creaminess of the sauce and the buttery flavor well cooked mushroom ravioli.  My husband thought that the combination of the ravioli sauce and the mushrooms themselves made the perfect pairing that he just had to clean off his plate.

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As part of the tasting menu, my husband also received a palette cleanser serving of a pear and tarragon sorbet finished with prosecco.  Served in a martini glass, the palette cleanser looked more like a fancy cocktail.  The pear and tarragon sorbet was so smooth and refreshing that my husband asked me to take a little sample of it even though he knew I wouldn’t like the prosecco portion of the dish.  I scooped up some of the sorbet and could immediately see why he wanted me to taste it as it really was quite refreshing and worked quite well as a palette cleanser to prepare the mouth for the next course to come.

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For my main course, I ordered the peppercorn and cognac seasoned beef filet mignon.  All of this was served with fresh seasonal vegetables.  The filet mignon was tender and cooked to perfection.  The peppercorn and cognac sauce to finish off the filet was beautiful with the right peppery notes to the sauce.  I’m a meat and potatoes kind of girl, so this kind of dish is right up my alley.  At a restaurant of this quality, you’d expect that they know what to do with their beef and they didn’t disappoint at all.  I devoured my filet like I hadn’t eaten all day.

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My husband’s main course in his tasting meal was the breast of duck flavored with maple syrup and wild berries.  In the past few years my husband has become quite the fan of duck and takes every opportunity to sample duck in different ways whenever he can.  He loved this particular duck dish as he thought that the wild berries really helped to finish the dish and paired together quite well with the perfectly prepared duck which was tender and flavorful.  For him, this was the perfect ending to a wonderful well-prepared French meal.

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As this was the final meal of our Eastern Canada sojourn and we weren’t in a hurry, my husband and I decided to indulge ourselves in some after dinner drinks to go with our desserts. I opted for the latte and my husband a cappuccino.  I love hand prepared latte drinks that come in the tall glasses where you can see the layers of the milk, the shot of espresso and then the foam to finish it off.  And of course, with a cappuccino, it’s always fun to see what kind of coffee art can be created using the steamed milk.

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My husband’s tasting menu came with a dessert offering of a symphony of homemade desserts. The symphony included creme brûlée, chocolate cake, a strawberry cake and a cheesecake.  With his tasting menu, he didn’t have an option to get any other kind of dessert, and while the dessert symphony was good, and he finished off the plate, the desserts were nothing special or spectacular.

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For myself, I chose to order the chocolate souffle.  I was warned that the soufflés are made-to-order so that it would take a good 15-20 minutes before the souffle would be finished.  I was fine with that as we weren’t in a hurry.  When the souffle was brought to the table, I was a little surprised as generally a chocolate souffle is usually chocolate-brown in color.  This souffle came out looking like a plain souffle instead of a chocolate one.  However, I was floored when I discovered that what they meant by chocolate souffle was that there was chocolate chips in the souffle batter that had been melted inside during the baking process.  This was the most amazing chocolate souffle ever.  The inside was sweet and chocolatey, but not overpowering since it wasn’t made with cocoa powder.  This was exactly what a chocolate souffle should be.  There wasn’t even any sort of a chocolate or creme Anglaise sauce to go with this souffle, but it didn’t even need it as the souffle itself was perfectly sweetened without the necessity of any sort of finishing sauce.  I’ve had a lot of soufflés in my life, and honestly, this was the best souffle I’d ever tasted.  My husband who had to have a couple of spoonfuls of my souffle agreed that the taste of this chocolate souffle was heavenly.

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While Restaurant Bonaparte wasn’t our first choice for dinner on this night in Old Montreal, it turned out to be a fantastic restaurant for our last full day in this wonderful city.  It’s funny to think that my husband and I were slightly disappointed when we couldn’t get reservations for the restaurant we really had our heart set on, and when the personal concierge service recommended Restaurant Bonaparte as a restaurant in the same neighborhood that had amazing food and a romantic ambience and something we might enjoy, we almost felt like we were settling for the second best restaurant.  However, by the time our meal at Restaurant Bonaparte was over, we didn’t feel like we had settled for anything.  This amazing French restaurant served delicious and beautiful classic French dishes with classic flavors and presentations.  As every course progressed, we were more and more impressed and absolutely smitten by the time dessert arrived at our table.  We couldn’t have asked for a better classic French dining experience in this, the heart of French Canada.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 22, 2015 11:44 am

    Oh my god, that mushroom ravioli and lobster salad look AMAZING!!

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