November 12, 2009

I tried L’Appartement a few years ago on lunch time, when it had just opened next to my work. The place was well decorated, good attention had been to put to the bathrooms (it might sound superficial but it really changes your bar/restaurant experience from my point of view) and the food was well done. My first visit made it clear that it was a restaurant that would take its place in the Old Montreal even though a bit expensive, it was offering great flavors and a neat service.

Now for my second visit tonight, years later, things have changed a little (or a lot?) for L’Appartement. First of all, depending on the night you show up, you will probably be led downstairs to wait.

The basement has been turned into a wannabe dancefloor with dj booth, bar and lounge area. A bit too dark knowing you’re waiting to have a meal and a bit sketchy, knowing that the supperclub concept does work in Montreal but what about when the dancefloor has been completely separated from the dinning area? The basement doesn’t get to be the primary spot so it gets a little old to have to wait in there knowing the real action is upstairs.

But once you get seated to your table, which has quite a comfortable set-up, it’s time to enjoy the food! From my experience, I’ve always been satisfied with the food I got at L’Appartement.

For tonight, I started with an artichoke and parmesan velouté. The portion might have been a bit too small but it tasted wonderful. The velouté was creamy but not too rich - just perfect! Nothing else to add - soups rock.

As for the entrée, I went with the salmon. The fish was contained in plantain sheets, covered with a slice of red pepper, spices and probably a layer of miel & dijon mustard to be cooked as a papillote. The salmon was accompanied by a side of basmati rice and some plantain slices. I did not care at all for the sides on the dish. The rice was way too under seasoned and the plantain slices were too big to offer any lightness. It felt like bitting into an undercooked potato.

But the salmon itself was quite amazing! I have no idea if the plantain sheets had anything to do with it, as I’ve only had papillote salmon cooked in lime sheets before, but the texture was amazing with a perfect balance of sweet and salty. I just wish a bigger piece of fish would have been offered instead of filling the plate with unnecessary components.

I have to admit I was still hungry after a two meal course. The food was well presented but not rich enough to be served into such small portions. For the price featured on the menu, I think it’s a bit of a rip off to be charging that much after seeing customers around me order extra dishes to feel complete.

L’Appartement has (had?) great potential in the culinary world but it decided to focus itself on a clubbing crowd. The music is way too loud, the bar is too integrated to the dining room and the clients are more here to pick up then to eat, which is a big deception and shock seeing I tried the restaurant on a Wednesday evening.

I sadly have to compare it to a fast food restaurant that makes the clubbing crowd pleased after partying all night. Except that L’Appartment is the predrink spot to grab a (great) bite, look fancy and get your drinking on. It’s frustrating to show up in a restaurant and deal with this type of crowd when all you want is to discover good food.

Conclusion: L’Appartement makes great food but has the wrong crowd unless you’re going out to pick up. The smartest way to enjoy this restaurant is to try it for lunch, even though it has a restricted but good table d’hôte. Evenings can be great too, but get ready to pay (unless you’re two girls on a Wednesday night and willing to split a bottle a wine for two free table d’hôtes - ladies night!) and deal with the noise. Also, you might meet ‘celebrities’ from Loft Story. Seriously.

L’APPARTEMENT ADDRESS: 600 William PHONE: (514) 866–6606 HOURS: LUNCH MON-FRI FROM 11h30 A.M. – DINNER TUE-SAT FROM 16h00 P.M. ALCOHOL: Yes, with a very affordable wine list VEGETARIAN FRIENDLY: Yes CREDIT CARDS: Yes PRICE: 60$ for a two-course meal with a drink (or 20-25$ on ladies night!)

Written by Sofia Shendi who lives and works in Montreal, as the CTO of Tastet. Join me on Twitter

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