Le Bremner: Chuck Hughes’ Cool New Resto

August 24, 2011 · 2 comments

in Restaurants

It was a hot and sticky summer night. The heat wave was in full effect and the last thing I wanted to do for dinner was cook. At that point, the buzz around superstar chef Chuck Hughes’ new restaurant, Le Bremner, was just starting. I didn’t know much about the food, but what I did know is that the dishes are meant to be shared, kind-of like a tapas style, but bigger portions. Perfect opportunity to experience this new place and dine with my good friend @habsnation.

It took us a couple minutes to find Le Bremner since just like Chuck’s other restaurant, Garde Manger, there’s no sign. It’s located across the street from Marché Bonsecours, and all it says is “Restaurant” which is actually quite charming. You feel like you’re going into a place nobody knows about. Nothing wrong with feeling like an exclusive member. After walking down a few steps below street level, the cool bar on the right was populated by a few people enjoying some mixed drinks, while the dining room on the left was buzzing with people of all ages. We sat at what I can only describe as an “Old Montreal style terrace” in the back that had a small bar and maybe 5-6 tables. A cold beer was definitely needed to cool off during this heat wave. I was happy to see their selection of beer that evening was Hue Beer from Vietnam, as opposed to the traditional beer-on-tap. I’m not sure if that’s what they serve all the time, but it was a good fit.


The menu is quite interesting. Instead of being sorted by appetizers, mains, and desserts, it’s organized by type of dish such as, “from the broiler”, “from the outside”, and “bread and cheese”. We began with the bacon cheddar focaccia, garnished with some green onions, parsley, and chive salad.  The sharp cheddar wasn’t overpowering, and the small salad offered a nice fresh contrast to the salty smokey flavor of the thick hand-cut strips of bacon. The dough was nice too. Then we opted for the now very popular lobster parfait. Served in a large sundae glass, the layers of lobster claw and tail chunks were nestled within the lettuce dressed with a creamy avocado dressing, and topped with a gratuitous amount of caviar. No skimping out on the lobster in this dish. The lobster was expertly cooked and went great with the dressing. At times, I felt it was a bit rich, but hey, it’s a lobster parfait! The plate was clean either way.

 

 

 

Since the dishes are meant to be shared, we figured 3 plates between the two of us for our mains would suffice, which it did. I’m a sucker for seafood, so the gratinéed garlic mussels immediately caught my eye. A dozen or so mussels on a half shell, oozing garlic with bubbly cheese on top were amazing (breath-mint essential). The naan pizza was recommended by another friend who dined here a few nights before, and did not disappoint. The fluffy crust was topped with a few thin slices of scallops, scattered kalamata olives, a couple large basil leaves, and shallots. I loved picking it up and munching on the large scallop slice while the bottom of the naan bread was nice and crispy. Good contrast in textures. Finally, the tender lamb meatballs were accompanied by some dollops of ricotta, a few bits of roasted cauliflower and peppers all smothered in fresh tomato sauce, then garnished with a fresh parsley and red onion salad. The meatballs were tender, the sauce was fresh, and the vegetables were very nicely roasted. Overall, a good dish with vibrant flavors.

 

 

We ended our meal with the “tollhouse” cookies, which came with a light strawberry milk. The cookies are baked to order, so expect to wait about 15 minutes for them. It’s worth it. Not many places bake cookies for dessert, let alone to order. They were hot and gooey, and were devoured in seconds. The strawberry milk tasted great, but after a couple beers it didn’t really sit right. I wish I could have enjoyed it more.

 

 

Over the last few weeks, I’ve heard mixed reviews of Le Bremner. Some say the service wasn’t up to par, some say it was fine, and others praise it. While I was there, I didn’t notice any flaws, and our waitress was friendly and did a great job. However, everyone pretty much agrees on the same point: the food is amazing, but it’s pretty expensive. I would have to agree, but it didn’t turn me off. Expect to pay around $75 per person after tax and tip. The food is great, the service was very good for a place that was only officially open for a couple weeks, and the decor is rustic and cool. I don’t mind paying for that, if it’s worth it. At this point in Chef Hughes’ budding career, you have to expect prices to be somewhat higher than what we may be used to in other places. You just hope that all aspects are well covered. From what I saw and experienced, Le Bremner is a very cool place, and everything proved to be great. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Chuck. Now if only I could figure out what “Bremner” means…

Le Bremner: 361 St. Paul East, Old Montreal, Quebec H2Y 1H2; (514) 544-0446

Le Bremner on Urbanspoon

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jess August 25, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Good post! I was looking forward to reading your thoughts on Bremner. I actually went back a second time and also tasted the cookies. Delish!

BTW, I heard they came up with the name when they found an old sign with “Bremner” on it in the course of renovations.

Take care

Jess

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foodguymtl August 26, 2011 at 10:49 am

Thanks for reading! Now I know how they got the name. thanks!

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