Sooo I just came back from my first restaurant invite ever, courtesy of L'Atelier d'Argentine, and it was simultaneously exciting and terrifying, since I generally have no idea how these things go down. I kind of felt like a country bumpkin entering the city. But enough of my deep-seated social anxiety issues... This is a food blog, and food is what you're here for, right?
I know there's some kind of unwritten food blogger code where you're supposed to try restaurants anonymously in order to get an accurate review, and since this was an invite, this will be more of a restaurant feature post than my regular grading review, mmkay?
Okay, I'm a bit in love with the ambiance of this restaurant. It's located in the Old Port, so it has the European stone building look going for it on the outside, and it has a very clean and modern look on the inside, classy without being gaudy.
|Outside the restaurant|
|Our seat, and one of our views.|
As you can expect from a restaurant of this caliber, the service was exceptional. Of course, it could be because of the invite, but due to a little hiccup that came up at the end of the meal, I have the feeling that there was a mix up, and that the waiter perhaps didn't know we were invited. If that was the case, then the service is very profession, courteous and attentive without feeling intrusive. When we asked for recommendations, the waiter explained the entire menu in detail, and offered his personal preferences as recommendations, which we took and ended up enjoying very much.
There was one sour note in the evening that came with the aforementioned mix up. Another waiter had come to ask us to pay, which I didn't mind doing, but since I was invited and was told that the bill would be taken care of, I didn't want there to be a mix up. So I told the waiter the name of the Sales and Marketing director who had invited me, and he replied with: "Am I supposed to know this person?" He probably could have been a bit more tactful, but hey, beggars can't be choosers! It all worked out in the end, with an apologetic manager coming in and smoothing the situation out.
|Pimm's Cup cocktail|
|Terrina de Pulpo|
|No, unfortunately, it's not a square octopus.|
|Crudo de Corvina|
I don't usually order lamb at restaurants, for fear of it tasting too gamey, but I have to admit, this is probably one of the better lamb dishes I've had so far. The lamb flavour was subtle, and more fragrant than overpowering. The lamb chop had a nice sear on the outside, and was tender and pink on the inside, just the way we like it. I thought the roasted veggies were pretty phenomenal too, with the caramelization bringing out the natural sweetness of the vegetables. My only complaint was that the braised lamb was a little on the dry side.
If you're hardcore, though, you could probably do with eating the steak as is. The perfect medium rare cook, the freshness of beef, the sea salt seasoning, and the smokey char on the steak already lend plenty flavours to the steak. The meat was also incredibly juicy. One slice of the knife had the steak bursting at the seams and juices spilling out all over the plate (as shown in the picture above), giving it a tender, melt-in-your-mouth texture.
|Flan de Papa|
The dulce de leche gave the dessert a certain decadent salty sweetness, while the honey roasted wallnut and burnt sugar brought a nice crunch to it. My friend likened the dessert to a banana crepe and creme brulee in one. The semifreddo was also light and airy on the outside, and denser and more creamy towards the middle. It also had a hint of coconut. I'm a total sucker for desserts, and dulce de leche is probably my kryptonite, so this dish definitely made my evening.
Price - $$$
Soooo I realize now that we probably unintentionally ordered all the pricier items on the menu, which I'm feeling a little guilty about. The Pimm's Cup would have been $10 each, the Terrina de Pulpo $14, the Crudo de Corvina $12, the Cordero $31, the Lomo $34 and the Panqueques $8. That being said, most of the appetizers are around $12, the mains around $25, and the desserts around $8. So for a restaurant in its location and of its stature, I'd say it's pretty affordable. I mean, in the old port, I've seen a lot worse for a lot more. But seeing as how I'm still a student (thus poor, and without class), I'll probably be too intimidated to be returning anytime soon.
Even though the circumstances of my visit was due to an invitation, I have to say, I was genuinely impressed with L'Atelier d'Argentine. The restaurant has a great ambiance, and is great for business dinners, or even a night out with friends or loved ones. The food is nicely presented and original, with some really memorable dishes, like the steak and the Panqueques. The prices are reasonable, given its location and class, but still out of my price range (well, what isn't?). An excellent experience overall, even if there was a slight mix-up.
And finally, I'd like to thank L'Atelier d'Argentine and Mr. Head of Sales and Marketing of Tom Nacos Group (can I say his name? Probably shouldn't...) for giving me the opportunity to try and write about your lovely restaurant! It's been a blast. :)
355 Rue Marguerite d'Youville, Montreal