Going out for dinner in Old Montreal is something I would recommend to anyone, any night of the week. There’s always something new to try in the neighbourhood but every now and then it’s nice to drop in on a classic. Last week we returned to Verses on Saint-Paul, a restaurant that prides itself of delivering an authentic and elevated, Old Montreal dining experience.
We were lucky enough to grab a table near the front of the restaurant where the giant windows open onto the street, creating a terrasse within the restaurant. Hearing the sounds of people going by, excited to either be seeing Old Montreal for the first time or happy to have returned is always delightful. It’s part of what makes eating out in the area so special.
As usual, we kicked things off with a couple of cocktails. We ordered an Aperol Spritz (still the undefeated champion of summer refreshment) and a pear-infused confection that could have lead to many more.
To start our meal we choose three different appetizers, a cauliflower steak, smoked bocconcini in fresh tomatoes and a tuna tartare. I couldn’t stop gushing about the cauliflower, it’s the best new dish I’ve tried in a very long time. The exotically spiced cauliflower is grilled to perfection and comes with a portobello mushroom, pomegranate salsa, red cabbage puree and a vegan demi-glace sauce. It was my favourite dish of the night and I can’t recommend it enough. The smoked bocconcini cheese with heirloom tomatoes, arugula and a Kalamata olive crumble was delightfully fresh and, like the Aperol, it’s an unbeatable summer go-to. The yellow tail tuna tartare, with cucumber, sake, green onions, marinated swiss chard and poppy seed came folded between black ink tapioca tiles. While a standard in many restaurants in Montreal, the tartare at Verses benefits from an inventive blend of ingredients.
For our main courses we went with a couple of classics. While I hesitated between the guinea fowl and the steak, I ended up going to straight to my first love, the burger and I am glad I did. I’ve been trying to steer myself away from the burger on the menu but it’s my northern star, the point by which I navigate myself through any menu. If the burger is good, I am expecting that the rest of the food is held to just as high a standard. Justification complete. So the burger was delicious. Topped with smoked cheddar, caramelized onions, bacon, Boston lettuce, tomato and a Chipotle mayo, the whole thing bursts with flavour but it’s the AAA beef that steals the show. When the meat is good, the rest only adds to the experience. My partner went with a half rack of lamb which was served with a zippy chimichurri, roasted pepper salad, pears, zucchini, cumin labneh, walnuts and nasturtium.
Verses has been serving up locally inspired food for well over a decade. The restaurant has maintained a level of standard over the years and continues to offer a great experience.