Last weekend I had the pleasure of eating at La Fabrique Bistrot, a fusion restaurant in the Plateau that blends upscale gourmet food with a quirky, low-key ambiance – the antithesis of the typical bistro. I read great reviews of the place and I was dying to try it myself. Needless to say, I was blown away. Not only was the food delicious, but the atmosphere was perfect for a casual night out. I grabbed dinner with my mom, who was visiting Montreal for the weekend, but there were all sorts there – canoodling couples, a group celebrating a birthday and even a bachelorette party. It was loud, but didn’t have the deafening roar of your typical bistro. The kitchen was right in the middle of the restaurant, completely open for guests to see their meals get whipped up right before their eyes.
We sat at a table up against a wall of warm wood that had cool art-deco swiveling chairs. The bubbly waitress brought whipped butter and warm grilled bread to our table wrapped in a brown paper bag and then hung up in a cute hanging basket – an unconventional touch that made this place so unique. We were also served a ginormous jar of pickles and pickled ginger.
The menu consisted of a variety of starters that had everything from apple-Sezchuan gnocchi to duck foie gras, with tastes and flavours from all over the world. This made me hesitant, as such a variety of options usually translates to boring pre-fab dishes. Fortunately, this was hardly the case. To start, I opted for one of the “bowls” on the menu that read “Beet, cheddar, pears, fresh and preserved, goat cheese, nut vinaigrette, old Xérès vinegar, and tarragon”. I really didn’t know what to expect, but I’m glad I ordered it because it was superb. The flavours were as impressive as the ingredient list. The goat cheese was arancini-style, coated in bread crumbs and deep fried, allowing the cheese in the middle to become warm and soft. I always love the combo of goat cheese and beets, but my homemade version of cold goat cheese crumbled on a salad is quite sad compared to this. I love when restaurants put a spin on something classic – it really takes it up a notch.
Beet, cheddar, pears, fresh and preserved, goat cheese, nut vinaigrette, old Xérès vinegar, and tarragon.
My mom was modest and opted for the mixed green salad (which she said had a nice vinaigrette that wasn’t overpowering), but I didn’t blame her because she needed to save room for her main course, the special of the night. This was lamb ravioli with peas, asparagus and roasted red pepper, drizzled in a buttery jus asparagus topped with a seared scallop. It was the fanciest, most complex “surf-and-turf” meal I had ever tasted. I snuck a bite of her meal and then another…and then another. The lamb was melt-in-your-mouth and the ravioli was delicate – a sign of a good pasta, as the dough was soft, rather than dense and chewy.
Lamb ravioli and a seared scallop with peas, red pepper, and jus asparagus.
My main course was just as tasty as the appetizer and I still can’t decide which was better. I ordered the “cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, arancini, basil, caper, Padano with extra scallops” – clearly I was in the mood for scallops. I didn’t realize that this dish also came with arancini (deep-fried cheese) and was disappointed when I saw it again – as we all know it can’t be good for your figure. Well, I threw that idea out window pretty quickly. The second arancini was with Padano, a really flavourful Italian cheese that is comparable to Parmesan, but not as strong. Now, you can’t be afraid of flavour if you order this dish, as there is lots going on. The chef managed to make plain veggies like cauliflower and Brussels sprouts the centrepiece of this meal. The scallops, as delicious as they were, were not even necessary. This could be a stand-alone top-of-the-notch vegetarian dish without those juicy morsels seared to perfection.
Cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, arancini, basil, caper, Padano with scallops.
We didn’t get dessert, not because we weren’t enticed by the menu (boasting fleur de sel French toast and a homemade Joe Louis), but because we were so satisfied by our entrees. Just when I thought the night couldn’t get better, the waitress brought
mints cotton candy with the bill. I managed to find room for that sugary, fluffy goodness and left the restaurant well-fed and feeling like a kid again.
This will definitely be a place I visit may times because I have to come back to try the pulled pork burger (with fries cooked in *gasp!* duck fat) and the rabbit vegetable stew.
Cotton candy that came with the bill — my night was complete!
Images are the author’s own.