Wednesday, April 20, 2005

dinner at O Thym

Maisonneuve and Amherst in Montreal.

Restaurants with blackboards always have a certain charm. I love the slight slide towards the informal. The hint that the menu can change at any time, that the chef allows a bit more spontaneity to his food. God knows, he may never change the blackboard, but the illusion is there.
The room is calm, immensely high ceilings, a banquette, muted pale beige and natural wood with a few tasteful pictures. Hard wood floors. The makeover is nice, this place used to be a café that roasted it’s own, used to be a bit grimy, in a charming way.
Upon seating myself, I’m immediately presented with the ‘water menu’. I’m sorry. I just find this a bit farcical. They have turned a bring your own wine restaurant, and decided to make a profit on water. I mean some of these waters are 9$ a bottle. That’s one mean mark up.
The service is good, professional, friendly. I order a 7 up, because I havn’t had one in so long (years), and because the idea of turning down their over priced water and ordering cheap pop gives me a hard on. But hey, props to them if they can find the suckers to pay for the water. I’d be filling up the bottles in the basement.
L shows up, we havn’t seen each other in about a year, and she’s bringing the wine. Later we’ll settle on a really nice 2003 Saumur; she’s brought a selection, so we can choose.
After humming and hawing, (ok L hummed and hawed, I never know what I want. I know what I don’t want and then let the other person order first, which cuts down my choices even more. Then I make a snap decision when they ask me.) we settle on a trio of smoked Quebec seafood for me, and a leek salad for Mlle. For mains we’re going to have the tuna, and for me the confitd ham hock with black berry sauce. But first the apps..
The leeks are nice and crunchy. We are both a little taken back as usually, for leeks in vinaigrette, you cook the shit out of the leeks to make them soft. These leeks are sliced into ½ inch rounds and placed atop a salad. It works well, with a nice vinaigrette and the toothsome leeks.
The trio of smokes seafood consists of: cold smoked scallops, pretty flavourless with a hint of smoke and a texture that is a little more flaccid than delicate, but in no way offensive. Hot smoked salmon, again, a bit less intense than I would have liked and pretty forgettable. Hot smoked mackrel. Now here we have a winner. I don’t know who is crafting this little lovely but they have a winner. The fish is full flavoured, with a creamy layer of fat. Absolute heaven. Probably better than the smoked herring from Normandy, no just different. Must be the mercury that makes it taste so good.
Mains: the tuna is extremely rare, too rare for L, so she sends back. She says the rice is nice, a medly of wild and white. I get to try the tuna at the end and it’s pretty characterless, texture says it may have been frozen and thawed, and the portion is easily over 220 grams. Nice little sauce.
The veg on both plates are really nice. Some golden beets, a little pattypan, green beans and some sautée red cabbage. They are pretty much perfectly cooked, which is rarer than you would think as veg often get the short end of the stick. Kudos to the veg chef.
The confit’s jarret de porc is beautiful as well. Not too much fat, crispy skin. That will be the skin we eat when they succeed in crossing a pig and a chicken and then roast it. The meat is tender and in no way dry or abused. The sauce tastes like a basic demi-glace based sauce, and there are a few what appear to be previously frozen blackberries strategically placed around the plate. Neither of us can finish our protein, but we both finish our veg. More veg please chef!

We haven’t finished our wine but my glass has disappeared. Oh well. I have a crème brulée a l’erable. The texture is beautiful. The top, covered in what was once maple sugar tastes like the outside of a burnt marshmallow. The maple flavour of this maple brulée is strangely absent.
Sumum: L: “ Well, it wasn’t bad, but I don’t think I’ll be rushing back”. I agree.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a totally different experience. Our dinner was amazing, from start to finish. Service was expert and gracious, in spite of that fact that it was very busy. Can't wait to go back!

3:06 p.m.  

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