It’s freezing outside, and staying warm mid January is everyone’s top priority. There’s only so much your winter boots, jacket, gloves, scarves, and tuques can do. We need food that ensures a healthy “winter layer”. In other words, good ol’ comfort food. I came across a relatively new bistro called Restaurant Brut on St. Denis in the Plateau. Judging from the menu outside, it looked pretty attractive and it wasn’t that busy, even though it was a Tuesday night.
Brut opened up around May 2o11. The decor is all wood; from the tables and chairs, to the exterior, the walls and the bar. It’s warm and cozy. The old establishment, “La Faim du Monde”, served vegetarian and vegan food. Brut is the complete opposite. The menu is meat driven; typical rich dark brown sauces, braised meats, and a small, but decent wine list. Just the kind of food I can get in the mood for on a cold night.
We started with French onion soup, and another dish made up of confit tomatoes, bits of proscuitto and little chunks of feta cheese. There were a lot of onions in the bowl of soup, which certainly sweetened it up. The cheese was bubbly and brown, and the crouton dissolved in the broth. It’s as classic as you’ll get in a good french onion soup. The confit tomato dish was good too. I loved the complimentary flavors with the sweet tomatoes and salty prosciutto bits and feta. Even though this appetizer was delicious, it was oily, which turned me off a little. I was a little unsure how to eat it, since it came with only one long crouton, so I assumed that’s how. The crouton was gone halfway through eating the dish, so in comes the fork. No big deal, just would have preferred a little more.
The mains were classic bistro fare. I ordered their special that night, which was a beef ragu with carrots, turnip, and potatoes in a rich dark brown gravy. A real meat & potatoes dish. The beef was tender, vegetables cooked just right, and seasoned nicely. I ate this one right up. The other main was osso bucco (veal shank) with linguine. I was a little disappointed with this one. Usually, osso bucco is supposed to fall right off the bone. It didn’t, and the meat was pretty tough. What a shame since the flavor was really nice. The pasta could have used a some lubricant since it came pretty dry, and didn’t soak up the sauce as much as I would have like it to. I did get a little marrow from the bone, so that was great. So one hit, and one miss.
The wine here borders on inexpensive to affordable, which is really great. A nice, full-bodied glass of red rounds up this meal nicely. Would I go back? Sure. I’m willing to try this place again. I liked the small, cozy atmosphere, the friendly and helpful staff, and the meal didn’t break the bank. After all, with the bitter winters we have, who wouldn’t want a good meal to warm them up.
Restaurant Brut: 4110 St-Denis, Montreal, QC, H2W 2M3, (514) 419-1068
(Their Facebook page is better than their website: https://www.facebook.com/restobrut)