Eating Our Way Through Montreal: Restaurant L'Express

Thursday, November 05, 2015

One of the primary reasons for visiting Montreal is to eat.  This city loves to eat and you can see it in the way your waiter describes his favorite dessert or when the chef presents his plates to you.
Quail with wild rice at L'Express
Quail with wild rice and Hanger Steak with shallot butter and fries

The first day in Montreal, May - Mei and I walked down Rue Saint - Denis on the hunt for lunch. We looked at several restaurants until May - Mei spotted a table of older women in full view behind a large window. We wandered over and looked at the menu and I noticed it was L'Express and explained to her that it's one of the most famous French restaurants in Montreal.  I asked her if she was ok with the price point since it is more on the expensive side for lunch and she was more than happy to oblige.

We entered and were immediately greeted in French by the host but all I can muster was "bon jour" and a meek smile as I switched over to English and asked for a table for two.  The hot said he'd have to check for a table and went over to his computer to look.  We waited for about five minutes when hecame back and explained that today we were lucky as there was a cancellation.

He led us to the back and as we walked through the restaurant, it was definitely packed with older, well dressed guests.

We were seated near a family of six and as we sat down, our host provided us with English menus but the specials were in French.

I read the menu in French and it was fun to decipher what everything meant then looked over to the English menu to see if my translation proved correct.
Cafe au lait

May - Mei decided to order the Quail with wild rice and I definitely wanted something hearty so I ordered the hanger steak with shallot butter and fries.

When the plates arrived, I was impressed by the presentation of the quail as it was artfully placed on the plate to represent a blooming flower.  We were provided with a full jar of cornichons with chopsticks to pick them up.  I'm not a fan of pickles so May - Mei had the whole jar to herself.

We shared our plates per our usual custom when we eat together.  Quail is usually not a favorite dish of mine but I absolutely loved the hanger steak!  It was juicy, tender and the shallot butter on top provided enough flavor.

I was full by the time we finished the meal and to my surprise, May - Mei wanted dessert.  Usually, I tend to ask my friends to look at the dessert menu but this time May - Mei  wanted a full meal.

We pored over the menu then asked our waiter for recommendations.  What was interesting to notice was he was happy to take the time explain four to five desserts to us.  He explained that the creme caramel and orange was the one of the best sellers.  However, the dish that was the most appetizing was the apple pie. He explained that when the apple pie is being prepared, the apple pie is flipped over and baked.   May - Mei and I consulted each other and decided to share while she ordered a cafe au lait.  I didn't think much about coffee at the end of the meal but when the apple pie arrived with the cafe au lait, I went "whoa."

Apple pie at L'Express
Apple pie at L'Express
Everything that L'Express executes is an art form.  The service is warm and attentive and you can truly see the waiters love their job.  What gives it the added charm are the pictures of the whole staff that were taken each year since their inception in 1980.  It was great to see certain men age throughout the years.

It's definitely a place I would return to when I am in Montreal.  The meals are delicious, the place is good for dates and families and it's just a wonderful way to spend an afternoon or evening sharing with people you love.

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