I first went to La Fabrique Bistrot over 2 years ago, when my parents were visiting Montreal for work. I had actually been obsessively researching the area (Mile End/Plateau, in particular) and had in mind some other fancy restaurant with local ingredients or fusion cuisine. Notorious for dragging my family halfway across whichever metropolitan city we were visiting by foot, I was determined to find that perfect “new hip place”. This time around, I was headed for St. Denis.
Of course, as goes with my shenanigans, the restaurant I’d found online -and had death marched my parents 45 minutes for- had ceased to exist. Slightly taken aback, but still relatively unscathed, I opted to stroll back down St. Denis, in the direction of Old Port. My parents followed.
We managed to stumble upon La Fabrique Bistrot: a walk-down restaurant with a warm, vibrant setting and comfortable atmosphere. It was just what we needed. It also helped that the menu was absurdly creative and tantalizing.
Our table was right next to the kitchen (and, before you panic, then kitchen is smack dab in the centre of the restaurant), where I was stoked to see the whole process in motion. These chefs looked like they could be performing some sort of well-rehearsed dance.
Even now, I remember being entranced with the food, and was determined to go back someday. I grabbed their card, and stuck it in my wallet, where it resided for 2 years.
Just this past weekend, I dropped by Fabrique again, and was comforted by that same welcoming, relaxed atmosphere. It felt like a dinner party, which is something I don’t really have time for hosting anymore.
After I ordered, the waitress came around with freshly grilled toasts with thinly sliced house pickles and a basil whipped cream. How’s that for bread and butter?
I opted for a light meal -just two appetizer type dishes, because I like to have room for dessert. The first dish was this wicked salad composed of Israeli couscous, fig, grape, fennel, mango, apple, dry banana, herb, pine nut, and popcorn chicken.
The way the chefs put the salad together gives the impression that it is art they are creating, which they are. You’d think with all the fruit in the salad that it’d be too sweet, but it was just right. It had a great array of textures and flavours, and was all around incredibly refreshing, thanks to the herbs.
Next, I dove into was the salmon tartare. This one had apple, daïkon, mayonnaise, tarragon, and sweet potato. It came with crisp toasts and -get this- duck fat fries and house made ketchup. I can’t complain.
For dessert I chose the chestnut verrine. Layers of lemon foam, Calvados, creamed chestnut, and preserved chestnut pieces. Pure bliss. Also a must try is their Pain Perdu, which comes with a quenelle of fleur de sel caramel and quite literally melts into your mouth. It’s translated to French Toast on the menu, but it out does any french toast I’ve ever tried in my life.
As far as phenomenal restaurants go, La Fabrique succeeds on all fronts: they have a vibrant yet relaxed atmosphere, a clever layout, and a spectacular menu.