Restaurant Le P’Tit Plateau – Montreal, Quebec
Hungry for some dinner and wanting to try something French (I mean we are in French Canada, after all), we referred to Urbanspoon and settled on Restaurant Le P’Tit Plateau. When calling to make reservations, they reminded me that they are a BYOB restaurant, meaning they don’t sell any alcohol but have a special license to allow for patrons to bring in their own wine. It’s a new concept to me and I immediately loved it—I mean why pay the 200 to 250% markup on a bottle of wine when they encourage you to bring in your own straight from the wine store? One thing to note, like the US, Canada seems to regulate their alcohol sales by province. For example, in Ontario, you could only purchase alcohol at state-run (?) stores; in Quebec, they appear to be a little more lax with the laws, selling some beer and wine at grocery/convenience stores (albeit terrible grocery store quality). To get the good stuff, you’ll still have to go to one of the state run stores (SAQ). They really do a good job with selection, knowledgeable staff and are big, bright open stores.
Needless to say, we had to do some Google Mapping to ensure we walked past one of these on the way to the restaurant.
With cheap bottle of red in hand, we finally got to P’Tit Plateau. The place was more or less empty around 8:15 p.m., which was a little surprising because the hostess/server sounded shocked when I suggested 9 p.m. at first—insisting it was too late. I saw why shortly: people eat later in Montreal. Around 8:30p.m., group after group filed in, slowly filling the small, cozy restaurant.
We had a terrible time deciding what to order, everything sounded so good. We started with the SALADE (included with entrée) & MUSHROOM AND LEEK SOUP (included). The salad was dressed with a homemade dressing, but wasn’t anything special– just a spring mix with dressing; sort of bland but a good starter in preparation for a feast.
I preferred the soup that McCown ordered. It was a mildly creamy, light soup with sliced mushrooms. Not too salty at all and rather refreshing. Again, a good way to start off.
For an appetizer to split, we ordered the CASOLETTE D’ESCARGOT (10 CAD). It wasn’t at all what I expected and came out looking more like a salad than anything. Fresh-tasting snails were piled high in a shallow dish over a bed of shredded lettuce, tomato and croutons – all tossed in a watery, ranch-like dressing. Not anything like the escargot at Rue de Jean (link), but still quite tasty.
The neighborhood itself was pretty cool. The small and cozy restaurant (clearly owned by the family that was serving the food) had open windows all around, and we sat right next to the windows open to the street. No sight of a/c, just about a dozen ceiling fans and the open windows. When a storm rolled through halfway through our meal and we had to shut the windows, it got really stuffy in the full restaurant.
Even with the storms, the student protest was still going strong. They came tearing down the street right next to our window and, for approximately 15 minutes, we couldn’t hear a thing except for the banging pots and pans.
Next up was the MAGRET GRILLE (35 CAD), which was absolutely amazing. They took a duck breast, stuffed it with duck confit, prunes and foie gras, then grilled it to a perfect medium rare. All of the flavors going on added up to perfection— the fatty rich flavors of the foie gras complemented the magret excellently. Make sure to get a dip of the dense, sweet sauce and a bit of prune, and you have your perfect dish. It was also with a vegetable “cake” of sorts—diced carrots, broccoli, corn, scallion onions and a grain, possibly couscous. Don’t worry, as you can tell from my plate, there was ample sauce to get a full taste with each bite, making eating these vegetables nearly addictive.
McCown agreed to get the CASSOULET (30 CAD), which was one of my personal favorites from my time in Bordeaux. This, again, was absolutely amazing. The cassoulet (like a paella) (review to Barsa here) has origins as being a cheap dish that the peasants would make when eating was less of a hobby than as a way to wake up the next day. So far as I could tell, le P’Tit Plateau made their’s in the most traditional fashion (I mean, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?). This slow-cooked casserole featured white kidney beans, sausage, pork and duck confit. I don’t even know where to begin— the sausage was super plump and tasty and the duck confit was falling off the bone it was so tender. Overall, the dish has a stew-like consistency, but it’s so insanely rich that you can’t expect to ever finish more than half.
Although the desserts sounded delicious (and, based on our entrées, we’re sure they would have been), we couldn’t fit it in and decided to skip.
BOTTOM LINE: A fantastic French meal in a quiet little neighborhood with a BYOB kind of attitude.