Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Europea (Montreal) 01/2011

Tre riche, tres riche, tres riche.
But why begin at the end. There are a plethora of interesting dining possibilities in Montreal when one has only a few days available so it was with difficulty that we decided on Europea. They advertised a surprise degustation menu with their chef, Jerome Ferrier, creating dishes with whatever came to mind with products that had been purchased that day. This proved to be unavailable so we settled for the regular degustation (89.50, why not $89.99?) which 60% of customers choose last night. We also had the wine pairing, a selection of five glasses of wine ($64.50) On arrival we got a message from the chef. It was a note in an envelope that read

"Je vous soulaite de passer un agreable moment a la Europea. Bon appetit !! signed Jerome Ferrer
Described as East to West in 10 creations. I have no idea which east and which west they referred to, certainly not the Middle East or the Far East and certainly;y not the Wild West.
The menu was quite intelligible. Before the Mise en bouche, a teaser of lobster cream Cappuchino with truffle shavings .we were presented with a pre pre starter! A lollipop stuck in a bucket of salt. It consisted of a sandwich made up of two thin layers of thin toasted Parmesan within which was some herbed cream cheese.

A second amuse bouche arrived concealed in a neat wooden box.
It contained a bit of olive inbedded in a little pattie of unknown origin.
It gave no hint of the feast to follow. The mise en bouche was a well filled coffee cup with a creamy, buttery white soup redolent with the taste of lobster, barely modified by the super rich soup, This was followed y bass, from the Mediterranean, marinated with yuzu juice and rice lettuce.
A delicate, slightly sweet entree served with a Canadian Niagara Peninsula Riesling, Foreign Affair, 2008. The sweetness of this wine acted as a good foil for the marinated fish. A giant caramelized scallop, Parmesan risotto with a crisp Bearnaise sauce emulsion was next,
served with a much dryer Sante Cruz Montains Clos lLachence, 2006. This was a delicious dish although the risotto was totally different from what we have had before. The rice grains were smaller and quite firm but they were in a wonderful creamy sauce. Rich but definitely a taste sensation with interesting contrasting textures with in the dish. The seared Quebec foie gras with a root vegetable puree, sauteed chanterellles and chip, yep, only one,
was the high light of the dinner. The foie gras left the mouth with an exceptionally smooth rich sensation reminiscent of some of our genuinely fine meals. It was equal to the best. Cornwall chicken was next
moist and fine with a very mild Galanga infusion and shitake vermicelli. The accompanying 2008 Constantia Suddle did nothing for the chicken which was excellent all by itself. The next dish was another rich offering. Fresh ravioli with ricotta, mushrooms, porchini emulsion, grilled portobello and Alba truffle sauce.
Lucky we love mushrooms. The last main was short ribs of Eumatimi beef, crispy galette of root vegetables, braised chippolini, onions and baby carrot with a sweet and sour BBQ sauce in maple wood smoke
. The meat of short ribs is quite stringy and even after being cooked forever.
I don't really think it belongs on a fine dining menu and, as good as this dish was, the meat was too coarse. We ow had a 'selection' of cheeses.
There were two, a semi soft washed rind Quebecoise cheese and an aged Gouda from Holland. After this came the desserts
and mignardise.
one after the next after the next. I didn't take pic's of the last three or four which included chocolate on a stick, meringues and madelaines.
The part of the restaurant we were in was filled with eight large clothed tables each decorated with an Inukshuk.
Set with presentation plates and slender cutlery they were good to look at but not user friendly.
It had bare red brick walls but it felt warm and comfortable. The patrons were well dressed and averaged 50+ They spoke quietly, some barely at all. This was like a place that one came to not only to eat but to pay respect to the food, and the chef. Something like going to church I felt. (Sandra didn't)
The food was extremely rich, reminding me of Paul Bocuse's remark that french cooking is eggs, cream and butter. Whilst a couple of courses were fairly ordinary overall the meal bore the mark of a really excellent chef.
Score 16.75/20

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