For years now, something big has been happening in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and a trek into the neighbourhood isn’t what it was 10 years ago. Walking along the Ontario Street promenade, old dime stores have evolved into vegan bakeries, old bars have become some of the most talked about restaurants in Montreal and while gentrification has been slow to take hold, life still remains quite colourful and bustling in the area. There’s always a sense that something bigger is just around the corner.
Le Valois has been part of this big happening for quite some time. Perched on the eastern edge of the wonderfully designed Place Valois, the restaurant has been a big draw with local celebrities, artists and fans of the traditional French brasserie. Designed by architect, Luc Laporte, Le Valois stands out with a blend of cutting edge design mixed with an old-fashioned art deco flair that gives the restaurant a refined, almost academic feel. Bright colours pop from the stained-glass installation above the bar and shoot across the ceiling while the rest of the space is dressed in warm, honey coloured oak paneling. Inside, the restaurant seats up to 80 people while outside on one of the largest terrasses in Montreal, the restaurant opens up to 120 more seats.
We were invited out to le Valois a few weeks ago to try their food and get a feel for the ambiance. After a warm greeting from the restaurant manager we took our seats near a box-framed window with a great view onto the terrasse. After a short moment we scanned the menu and ordered some food and wine. We started off with three different appetizers, a blue cheese salad, some escargot and fried calamari. The freshly prepared salad had a wonderfully balanced flavour with crunchy walnuts, delicious blue cheese and a zingy dressing. The escargots were covered in a helping of delicious melted cheese and the fried calamari came served with a tasty red pepper sauce and squid ink.
The menu at le Valois is quite extensive which made choosing delightfully difficult. After reading and re-reading the menu, we finally settled on the steak frites and the stuffed rabbit for our main coures. The steak was flavourful, very tender and juicy; one of the best steaks I’ve ever eaten in Montreal. It was grilled to absolute perfection. The fries were great too; just crispy enough and they were perfect for dipping into the tartar sauce and mayo that accompanied the plate. The rabbit was deliciously tender, served with grilled root vegetables, Brussels sprouts, asparagus and two savoury sauces.
Though we tried, we couldn’t get away without having a dessert. Upon asking for a recommendation, the waiter brought out a warm, sugared cronut with fresh cream and French vanilla ice cream. The portion was perfect for sharing and it was a great way to punctuate the experience.
Le Valois has you covered morning, noon and night. Their brunch is known for being one of the best in the city and we can attest that their dinner menu is worth every penny. They also feature a late night menu starting at 9:30 with two course meals starting at $23.00. They have an extensive wine list featuring several great wines by the glass and the new chef, Thomas Ginleis has dreamt up some great appetizers for those looking to enjoy a nibble and a quick glass of wine and the bar.
The service was wonderful but with only two waiters working a very busy restaurant they seemed a little stretched for their capacity. They smiled through it all though and were quite informative adding to a very pleasant experience. Le Valois hits all the right notes including delicious food, great ambiance and friendly service. This makes adding the restaurant to our exclusive list of recommended restaurants in Montreal that much easier.
For more on le Valois, visit their website here and be sure to follow all our adventures on Twitter and Instagram: @dayjobnightlife
Photo credit: David Major-Lapierre