As a fan of Daniel Boulud’s innovative cuisine, I jumped at the chance to try his Montreal restaurant, Maison Boulud, this weekend for a Valentine dinner date with my husband. How did I like the meal? Let me count the ways.
The restaurant is large yet cozy. A beautiful fireplace near the restaurant’s bar helps you forget the blowing snow right outside the Ritz Carlton hotel, where the restaurant is located. The service is exactly what one hopes it would be for this level of dining. Prompt and courteous, the professional staff made us feel comfortable from the start. The only minor annoyance was when the hostess placed us in a smaller secondary dining room even though the larger main area clearly had vacant tables, and I had reserved weeks in advance. I politely asked the hostess to move us to the main area and she agreed. It might be a good idea to mention table placement when you reserve at Maison Boulud.
On to the star of the night, the meal. My major fear coming into the restaurant was that I would be disappointed by the experience. My expectations were so high, I felt it was inevitable. I could not have been more wrong, and this was just further proof that I really do worry too much… As an appetizer, our waiter suggested we order the fried artichoke hearts with aioli along with our cocktails. They came promptly and were still crackling hot. The artichokes were cooked and seasoned to perfection, and contrasted beautifully with the creamy aioli. A perfect starter to open up our appetites. My next course was the baby beet and Ruban Bleu fresh goat cheese salad with candied pistachios and watercress. Generously garnished with herbs, yellow and red beets of varying sizes are placed over a long strip of goat cheese. It was delicious and a feast for the eyes, with lovely color and texture.
For the main dish, I chose the salmon confit, with cauliflower puree, romanesco, capers and lemon. The salmon is served slightly pink and is moist with flavor. Romanesco is a cone shaped and mild flavored Italian cauliflower with spiraling florets. It worked very well with the fish, and the capers and lemon added the perfect amount of saltiness and acidity to the dish.
To end the meal, there were many enticing options to choose from. Would we try the baba au rhum with a grilled chestnut mousse? Or the caramel confit apple with poached quince and maple sponge? In the end we were tempted by the chocolate coulant, with a fleur de sel liquid caramel center, and caramelized condensed milk ice cream over a chocolate sable crumb. This is their most popular dessert for a reason, the caramel filling is sweet and salty, works perfectly with the chocolate and the ice cream, divine.
This restaurant is a perfect addition to the lively Montreal culinary scene and left me wanting to come back soon to try other dishes. I may even ask to get a tour of their kitchen next time to observe the masters at work.
Note: Roastedmontreal.com has interviewed Daniel Boulud about his Montreal establishment, you can see the article here.