It’s once again that time of year when cupids are busy letting loose arrows in preparation for the most romantic day of the year! Yet, the fact is, it is more likely the pants-wearers, if I may, who are those truly burdened with all the arrangements. These poor folks would like nothing better than to give their significant other an evening they’ll never forget – be it out of affection, or because they’d otherwise be facing the wrath of their significant other.
What to do? Where to go? Well, what better place to treat your date than La Grande Dame itself, which recently reopened its doors after a multi-million dollar restoration? Regrettably, the cheapest room at the Ritz-Carlton is currently going for $425.00 plus tax. Fortunately, the gem of a hotel situated on Sherbrooke West, between Drummond and Mountain Street, is also home to one of Montreal’s finest restaurants.
Daniel Boulud was born in Lyon some 57 years ago. After working throughout France and Copenhagen under renowned Chefs, he went on to become the private chef to the European Commission in the US capital. 20 years ago Boulud opened his very own restaurant in the Upper East Side of Manhattan called Daniel. Three years ago, Daniel was awarded three Michelin stars, the highest possible rating for a restaurant. Less than a year ago, the acclaimed restaurateur with 14 different restaurants in such cities as London, Singapore, New York and Miami brought his magic to Montreal.
If interested, book your tables ASAP because this is a tremendously hot venue on any day of the week, never mind Valentines Day! Opened this past spring within the newly restored Ritz-Carlton, Maison Boulud is simply astounding and Montrealers are well aware of the hype. Boulud has managed to create and maintain an atmosphere of elegance and comfort, while axing futile opulence and thereby avoiding any accusation of being ostentatious. Upon walking in through the inviting front doors to the restaurant, just right of the hotel’s storied entrance, you are greeted by gracious – and often gorgeous – hostesses who’ll quickly take your coats and get your party seated. As far as seating is concerned, you’ve got some pretty tough choices. There is of course the more casual lounge to your immediate right, followed by the well-stocked bar (capable of inducing Saint Valentine himself to alcoholism), the immaculate dining room, and of course the Jardin du Ritz with its famous duck pond – unfortunately, the garden is not accessible in the winter months.
Alcoholism is however, the least of the sins you should concern yourself with whilst at Maison Boulud. It is in fact gluttony, which is bound to get the better of you. From my own experiences and those of my friends, it’s quite safe to say that there are few dishes at this restaurant that are anything short of exceptional.
As far as the appetizers go, the Duo de Saumon Sauvage has completely won me over. Wild salmon is served using two distinct approaches, both equally delicious. The main course, the Lasagnette de Homard brings new meaning to delicacy. The lobster is impeccably prepared and the whole dish just goes together marvelously. For those who prefer red meat to God’s gift from the sea, the Rigatoni Au Jarret Dagneau Braise shall not disappoint. It is truly some of the best braised lamb I’ve ever tasted.
Moving on, no trip to Maison Boulud can be complete without a plate of their mouthwatering desserts. Whether you get their Tarte Mont Blanc or an assortment of their delicious sorbets, you’re in for quite a treat – the sight of it, the smell of it and the taste of it! Although I’m usually happy with a scoop of chocolate and another of stracciatella come dessert time, if you’ve still got room, the Chocolat Coulant is well worth filling yourself up with. Just think of chocolate, liquid caramel fleur de sel and caramelized milk ice cream all perfectly coming together on a single lip smacking plate!
Although the restaurant has a fine wine list, with especially good brunello di montalcinos, do try out a drink or two from the cocktail menu – the comme à la maison in particular!
Going out for a nice dinner on Valentine’s Day has become an annual tradition for couples around the world. If you want to make sure your date has an unforgettable evening, and ensure you have an unforgettable night, Maison Boulud is the place to go.
Appetizer: Duo de Saumon Sauvage – 17
(wild salmon, olive oil rillettes)
Main: Lasagnette de Homard -34
(Lobster lasagnette, cipollini, wild mushrooms, coral emulsion)
Dessert: Chocolat Coulant – 13
(Chocolate Coulant, Liquid Caramel Fleur de Sel, Caramelized Milk Ice Cream)
*Please note that menus at restaurants will vary on and around Valentines Day. If you do not wish to take the pre-set Valentine’s Day Menu, call ahead to make sure à la carte menus are also available. *