Just a few hours drive away from Toronto, Montreal has become our go-to weekend getaway city in the past few years. Charles and I finally had the chance to take my mom there this summer during her three-week visit and I tried my best to find local restaurants for her to experience French or Montreal-style cuisine.
L’Express was our first sit-down meal in Montreal. It was not easy to find this Montreal bistro, as there was no obvious sign announcing the presence of this restaurant. Rather, its name was spelled out discreetly in white tiles on the ground at the entrance of the restaurant.
The atmosphere of the restaurant was relaxed but lively. Reservation is a must as it gets crowded fast during meal time.
The menu may not be the most elaborated one in the city, but the selection was decent and changes regularly to incorporate seasonal ingredients.
I wasn’t feeling too hungry so I got the sauteed duck confit with salad. I really enjoyed the salad. The greens and radish were tossed in a very light and zesty vinaigrette. The duck was seasoned nicely. The mellow saltiness of the duck and the refreshing zest of the greens really worked well together.
My mom went for the special of that day – lobster risotto. The risotto came to be a little too watery but the texture of the rice was good – slightly more cooked than al dente but it was very creamy, fragrant, and absorbed the sweet lobster flavour.
Both Charles and my brother Andy had the hanger steak with shallot butter and fries. A hanger steak is a cut of beef steak that receives its name because it “hangs” between the rib and the loin. It is actually part of the diaphragm, which can be very flavourful although not particularly tender. It is usually marinated prior to grilling or broiling, and served medium rare (just how we like it anyway!) to keep its moisture and avoid toughness.
The steak was incredibly flavourful – not sure if it was from the marinate, or from the decadent shallot butter melting on top. The texture was slightly tougher than other cuts of steak we usually have, but still quite juicy. Charles and Andy both said it was not the best steak they’ve had, but it was still a very good steak.
We were all too full to have desserts, partially because we were still working on digesting Schwartz’s sandwiches we consumed a few hours before our dinner. It was a very good dinner. Food was simple but executed and cooked beautifully. Combined with the warm and inviting ambience, and friendly professional staff, this quintessential Montreal bistro is definitely a place we would return to and recommend to our friends.