The second night of our trip to Montreal we decided to check out the restaurants on Rue Crescent, the street recommended by our waiter the night before. We strolled the down the street checking out the bill of fare of the various eateries. As we happened upon the restaurant L’Autre Saison, we seemed to be fixed on their menu a bit longer. As the name conveys, it was indeed a French restaurant and my eye was fixed on one dish in particular.
However, neither of us were dressed for such a place, wearing very casual clothing of jeans and a long sleeved shirt. Regardless, the very kind waiter warmly invited us in to dine. I’ll be honest, I felt really underdressed for such a place. I commented as such to the waiter but he insisted that all was fine. The restaurant appeared very refined and seemed more apropos of a place I would be thrown out of rather than actually dining in. It consisted of a two level dining area, a pianist lightly regaling diners with classical music, and a highly detailed warm decor.
We started off with an appetizer of oysters, which apparently has become a requirement for me while in Canada. While they were indeed fantastic as usual, the real treat was the main course, Rabbit Confit. I’ve heard over and over from my mother how delicious rabbit is. My mother has told me numerous times about rabbit dishes prepared by her mother, my Babci (grandmother), from when they lived in Northern France. And even though my mother will no longer eat rabbit due to the cuteness factor, her description of it has long left me curious.
The dish itself was Confit de Lapin (rabbit confit). Once I saw it was on the menu, my mind was made up. Oddly enough, we had been to Southern France a few months earlier and did not see rabbit at any of the restaurants we dined at. So, at this juncture, there was no other option for me. Though I did not know it or care at the time, a trusty google search reveals that confit refers to meat cooked very slowly over a low heat in grease, oil, or sugar water. In this case, it was cooked in duck fat and was also stuffed. To this day, I don’t know what the stuffing was. It could have been a simple herb stuffing, it could have been sweetbreads, again I didn’t care. The end result was possibly the most delicious meat I have ever eaten. Tender, lean (very lean), immensely flavorful. It was simultaneously new and different, yet still familiar. It was like a cross between chicken and veal, only a thousand times better. Without a doubt the cooking of it in duck fat and the seasoning of the stuffing played a role in its flavor and yet I have no doubt it would have been equally delicious without those factors. Paired with a Cabernet Sauvignon, the meal was simply sublime. At the risk of developing rabbit starvation as well as making myself sick of it, I would eat this all the time.
Despite feeling underdressed and therefore out of place, everything about the meal was amazing. The service was attentive, polite, and perfectly timed. We were made to feel very welcome. About the only negative critique would be how they went over the wine list. The waiter would only list the wine by variety of grape (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, etc.) rather than present an actual wine list or a manner in which I could know the region and year. Perhaps they have a very small selection. Perhaps his visual appraisal of me led him to believe I knew nothing about wine, which really, I don’t. I just know a lot of catch phrases and such to give the appearance of knowledge. Regardless, that was not enough to ruin the meal and experience.
So, if you find yourself in Montreal and you want a great meal, a complex meal in a restaurant with great atmosphere, I highly recommend L’Autre Saison.