Last visited: November 5, 2011
Location: Montreal, Quebec (Old Montréal)
Address: 479 Rue St-Alexis
Subway stop: Square-Victoria
Price Range: $30-50+ ($28-30 mains)
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
Food: 4.5 (based on what I tried)
- Canadian-French cuisine
- Former owners of Garde Manger
- Local favourite
- Hidden gem
- Exotic meat & game
- Fresh seafood
- Seasonal menus
- Moderate-higher prices
- Popular for cocktails/wine
- French & English menu
- Daily from 6pm
- Friday-Saturday open until 3am
I was invited on a Van Houtte Coffee Getaway in Old Montreal, and our itinerary was pre determined with a whole bunch of fun coffee related food activities. One of the events was a wine pairing pre-dinner, which would help us to discover more about our flavour profiles and eventually lead us back to our coffee choices. We were taken to L’Orignal for this dinner, and although this restaurant has no associations with Van Houtte, I personally really enjoyed their restaurant choice for the event.
It was another restaurant I would not have discovered on my own. It’s tucked away in an ally and somewhat located in an underground basement much like celebrity chef’s Chuck Hughes’ restaurant Le Bremner. I was actually surprised to discover that Monika Terlecki and Travis Champion, former owners of Chuck Hughes’ Garde Manger (located just around the corner), were the ones behind L’Orignal. It’s kind of the secret hot spot for sophisticated drinks and food and it’s literally more down to Earth… and wood, than either of Hughes’ restaurants.
I’ve never felt so “non-Canadian” until I visited Quebec. L’Orignal means “moose”, and the restaurant takes on a Canadian theme. Being in Montreal a Canadian theme is always a French Canadian theme or a “Quebecois” theme though.
The menu embraces game and exotic meats as well as seafood, and although I only tried the chef’s tasting courses, it was enough to convince me to come back here on my own. It may not be representable of what the restaurant can actually do on a regular night, but it left me wanting to explore the menu more. I took a look at the regular menu and it sounded crazy good, especially if you’re an adventurous eater.
I really did come back here on my own on a separate occasion and the place was full of locals, and it just felt like a locals’ spot without the hype. Mind you it’s not a restaurant that hasn’t been discovered yet either and it was named one of the “Top 25 Must Go Places in Canada” by EnRoute Magazine in 2008.
The rustic and refined ambiance was representable of the menu. I know this might sound odd, but it felt more Canadian than a “Canadian” restaurant in Vancouver, BC. I’m stereotyping right now, but it’s just how I see things. When a Vancouver restaurant is “Canadian” it seems more farm to table, whereas this just showcased Canadian cuisine as a bite of decedent wild life. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised with the “wilder” side of Montreal though.
Anyways it was a pre–arranged mini 6 course wine and food pairing and the purpose was to do “blind” wine tastings to help us discover our flavour profiles. I was quite skeptical of how it would work because I wasn’t confident that my wine choice would relate back to my coffee choice.
After taking the Discover Your Coffee Profile quiz on the Van Houtte website, I discovered I was “Fruity and Velvety”. I questioned my belonging to this category, but after my blind coffee tasting and cupping session at the Van Houtte factory I was still in that category. Nonetheless I still wasn’t quite convinced of its accuracy and I was really curious to see how my wine profile would match up.
I wasn’t blindfolded during the wine tasting, but I wasn’t told the name of the wines either. I kid you not, but the wine I selected as my favourite was in the same category as my coffee profile (Chenin Blanc), which is again “fruit and velvety”. To be specific, I actually selected both of the “velvety” wines as my favourite (Chenin Blanc and Merlot), so I know texture plays an importance on my palate.
I found the exercise quite an epiphany and it was enough to fully convince me that I am fruity and velvety through and through. I’ll stop challenging the quiz. I was surprised to discover which wines I actually like and don’t like, and I found the whole experience an eye and palate opener. Sometimes it’s not necessarily the brand or quality of the wine I don’t like, but sometimes it’s just not suitable for my tastes, and the same goes for coffee!
Note: I’m not going to comment on the food, due to the circumstances of the event, but I will say the sommelier here is fantastic, and she’s actually from BC! Woohoo!
On the table:
Flavour Profile 1: Mellow & Fruity
Flavour Profile 2: Velvety & Fruity
Flavour Profile 3: Bold & Fruity
- The regular menu offered a version of this as an appetizer, and it sounded even better.
- Foie gras and piglet heart parfait, pistachio “Pain de Genes”, bergamot creme fraiche, banana and butternut squash salad, and honey tangerine $18
Flavour Profile 4: Mellow & Woodsy
- The regular menu offered a version of this as a main.
- Boileau Venison with foie gras emulsion, cauliflower, Medjool dates, shiitake mushrooms and Marcona almonds $30