Toqué! have recently been awarded best restaurant in Canada, so my family and I decided to give it a try to celebrate a birthday.
For people that are not familiar with this restaurant (which we weren't at all!), it claims to use local ingredients and tries to keep as much as their natural flavour as possible, while combining them to create a unique experience.
Something else important to note, Toqué! detain the five diamonds rating, which means the service is more than impeccable. As we do, we ordered the tasting menu. It consists of 7 surprises courses - Yes! Surprise, which means you have no idea what is coming for you. Be prepared, this post is going to be a long one.
Ready or not, here we go!
The price for the tasting menu is 122$ per person, not including taxes, tips and alcohol. You can opt for the 5 or 7 wine pairing but we decided to order a bottle of red wine that our waiter kindly suggested. I unfortunately do not remember the name and I'm definitely no expert, but it was excellent!
First thing first: the bread. I don't know about you, but I LOVE bread. Needless to say, I was expecting warm, fresh and delicious bread from the best restaurant in Canada. However, I was very disappointed as our first batch was served cold. They give you two kinds of bread: Ciabatta and country sliced bread. Both were cold and the Ciabatta was so hard, I had to use my hand to open it in order to put some butter on it. The few other batches were warmer, but still, we were expecting more.
Pre-course: Stripped bass mousse
Before starting our 7 courses meal, they brought us a small stripped bass mousse to start the dinner. It was light in texture and had a strong taste of bass. I personally do not enjoy strong fishy taste, so for me, it was just OK.
First Course: Raw Flounder with radish, cucumber, shallot, lemon juice and grapefruit mousse and sweet clover
Our first meal was a sashimi course of flounder. I've never tasted this fish before but it had no particular taste in my opinion. It was accompanied by fresh ingredients which made the dish very refreshing and a good way to start our dinner. However, I thought it was just missing a little more of something to make it more tasty.
Second course: Razor clams with artichoke, mashed potatoes, camelina and razor clams juice emulsion
This dish must have been one of my favourite! I love razor clams and I find it rare to find them in restaurants in Montreal. The mashed potatoes were excellent and the artichoke gave it a small kick of acidity. The emulsion made the dish all come together, giving it a smooth texture. Definitely a 10/10!
For the third course, we had a choice between fish and Foie Gras.
Third course Option 1: Halibut served with fennel puree, carrots, mushrooms and dandelions
I personally didn't get the chance to taste the fish because I chose the Foie Gras option, and also because this dish was so good my mom ate it so fast i couldn't get my hands on it! If you love fish, this is a must try apparently!
Third course Option 2: Foie Gras served with gel and gallet buckwheat, sesame tuile, apple syrup Maple, shiitake mushroom and nasturtium .
Another thing I love in life is Foie Gras. Foie Gras au torchon? Heck yeah! I love it even more than poêlé (pan-fried). However, this plate was served without any kind of grilled baguette, but rather a very tiny small amount of buckwheat gallet. Altough very good, we had to ask for some more bread in order to eat our two big chunks of Foie Gras, which none of us finished because the portions were really generous!
Fourth course: Lamb with mashed rose hips, pied-de-mouton mushrooms, roasted cauliflower, water chestnut gnocchi and gravy
The lamb was cook in a very particular way, which ended up taking away a lot of the meat flavour. It seems like it was boiled or steamed. It was served with water chestnut gnocchi, delicious mushrooms and a gravy sauce which tasted a bit like fancy ketchup. In my opinion, this dish was very unique and it resembled nothing that I've ever eaten. However, I think I would have enjoy the dish better if the lamb was grilled, the gnocchi were just potato based, and the gravy was traditional. Sometimes, when you try to hard, it just doesn't work.
Fifth and Main course: Venison served with mashed black trumpets, mashed parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes, chanterelle tube and pepper sauce
The venison was cooked to perfection and was perfectly accompanied. Before this dish, I've never ate a Jerusalem Artichokes, which taste a lot like a crunchy potato. Very yummy! I love discovering new dishes and ingredients, so this was a big plus for me. This dish also included a sausage made out of deer. Never mind the razor clams, this was my favourite dish and it was the main dish so the portion was bigger - win for me!
For the sixth course, we had a choice between a pre-dessert or a cheese platter.
Sixth course Option 1: Bercail and Royogourt served with pistachio, camelina seeds and vinegar reduction
This option consisted of two cheeses. One was yogurt based, which made it very light and creamy, and it was sprinkled with pistachio. It was delicious and very unique. The second one was a hard and very strong cheese. Just by cutting it, you could smell the very strong flavours, kind of like a blue cheese. However, when in the mouth paired with a cracker and the sweet vinegar reduction, it is actually very tasty!
Sixth course Option 2: Fried Rice ball pudding with fennel seeds, white chocolate ganache and lemon, lemon cream, gel pastis and coffee crumble
With the sweet tooth that I have, I obviously took the pre-dessert. It was basically an arancini (fried bread crumb rice balls) and the rice was cooked in coconut milk. Personally, It wasn't my cup of tea. I don't think the flavours came out well together. I didn't really care for the coffee crumble either. The white chocolate with lemon was good. This dish was my least favourite.
Seventh course: Rhubarb mousse, Bavarian cream cheese, thyme meringue, lemongrass gel, and strawberry and lemongrass sorbet
We ended our 7 course meal with a sorbet and mousse dessert. I really enjoyed the meringue, which melted in my mouth. The cream cheese balanced the sourness from the rhubarb, lemongrass and strawberry. However, I would have enjoyed having more of it since it was quite a sour mix.
After dinner candies: Maple fudge and whiskey chocolate
Our waiter surprised us with some whiskey chocolate and maple fudge. They were excellent, I have never eaten a maple fudge that was so creamy and rich.
Four hours later and a much lighter wallet in hand, we had a wonderful experience at Toque!. The service was great as they warmly welcomed us in their restaurant. Throughout the dinner, we received an impeccable service filled with small attentions such as pulling out the chair for the ladies, serving the ladies first, folding back our towels when in the washrooms, etc. The list goes on!
However, (yes, nothing is perfect!) the food left us hanging as it was less than what we were expecting. All the ingredients were great and fresh, but the combinations of flavours were not our favourite. Additionally, we made a reservation for 7pm and ended our meal at 11pm, so take into consideration the time it will take to go through all your meal when booking a reservation.
Conclusion: It was a great experience, but for that price, not sure we would come back.
(only because we had to wait quite a bit between some of the dishes)