When mother called me earlier this week to ask if we were still related, I knew I’d been missing in action for a bit too long. To make it up to her, I immediately booked her for dinner this Saturday. Perfect timing: we were just in time to catch the last week of Le Chop Montreal.
Le Chop is a gastronomic event during which five restaurants offer their Table d’hôte at a fraction of its regular price. One of them, L’Atelier d’Argentine, has been on my radar since Naomi told me about her own mother-daughter outing there. That made the choice easy, so I called and reserved for 6:30pm (yes, mother eats and sleeps early).
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by Alexandre, the Maitre d’. Turns out, he used to work for Raymond Blanc – yes, le Michelin-starred Raymond Blanc. Quite a promising introduction. Alexandre left us in the hands of the moustached waiter (reminiscent of Buenos Aires in the 20s?) who successfully convinced mother to start with a Caipirinha-Passion-Fruit-&-Maracuya-Argentinian-twist. I resisted, thinking it would be best for me to go easy on the alcohol tonight and stick with my one glass of wine. But oh my, taking a sip of her drink almost made me regret my sensible ways. Fresh, fruity and not sweet at all – the drink had a real presence.
For appetizers, we picked the coconut and shrimp soup, which had a pinch of coriander, lime … and spiciness! There is nothing that makes my Asian mother happier than a hint of hot spices – so kudos to the chef for that. It was a bit lukewarm for my liking, but I’ll take the blame for that (I should’ve spent less time admiring myself in the ladies’ mirror).
For mains, mother chose the grilled salmon steak while I satisfied my meat craving with the grilled rib eye. I was initially going for the short ribs, but the moustached-waiter kindly suggested that I switched to a tender piece that still had a tasty rim of fatty fat. The meat, medium-rare, was good. It came with Chimichurri, a potato tortilla and broccolini. I’m a big sucker for broccolini, so that was a big win for me, especially since they were roasted in garlic.
Portions were generous, so we were pretty full by the end of the second course. If it wasn’t for Alexandre who came back and provided a mouth-watering description of the desert options, we would have skipped it (and made a serious mistake). Mother picked the chocolate-biscuit cake paired with coffee Semifreddo, and I took the apple crumble. The portions were delicate, yet more than sufficient. The Semifreddo was a real delight, with a strong and satisfying smell of roasted coffee beans. Mother finished the meal with a tisane from Camellia Sinensis and I with an espresso (corto). I didn’t think much of it until later, when it was 2am and I was still as sharp as a regional spelling bee champion. Great coffee indeed.
All in all, mother was very content with her evening. Knowing how picky she can be, this proves that le Chop is a good option if you’re looking to impress without leaving much of a dent in your wallet. La Table d’hôte at L’Atelier d’Argentine is offered until this Friday, February 28th @$23/person (+drinks+tax+tip+$14 if you’d rather have the rib eye like I did).
Note on their happy hours: Cocktails are $5 from 5 until 7pm, with live drums on Wednesday and Thursdays.
Note on their Grill Pop Up at Montreal en Lumière: Serving Empanadas and other exciting Argentinian treats until March 3rd!