Construction site… Old run-down electronics store… Exquisite restaurant? Absolutely. That’s probably how you’ll come across Bouillon Bilk, as you’re walking down St-Laurent below Sherbrooke street.
It might seem like a strange location for a high-end restaurant, but if you think about it, it’s not. It’s close to the Quartier des Spectacles and to downtown, and it’s giving the area a facelift by presenting diners with an original take on food.
In the past few years, many new restaurants have bought into a décor trend – I like to call it “vintage-nouveau”. Old-looking stuff (but not necessarily actually old) put together in a comfy-homey kind of way. It’s easy to like these restos – you feel like you’re having a dinner party at home, except with (probably) better food, no dirty dishes and the possibility of meeting someone cute (read: hot). Like most people, I love that kind of setting.
But sometimes it’s nice to go to a high-end restaurant that feels like a high-end restaurant. One that makes you feel like eating out is an “occasion”. One that makes you feel like you’re having an epicurean experience, with white table clothes and everything.
That’s where Bouillon Bilk comes in. The space is intimate, and the vibe is upscale but unpretentious. The waiters are expertly trained and can describe every dish with precision as well as suggest a wine according to your meal and preference. The chef creates original dishes that are both visually stunning and delicious.
We had three starters at the table. I chose the snapper “sashimi” with raspberries, cucumber, and nasturtiums (flowers/ pic 2/ $14). My friends had the lamb tartare with épices bèrbères, eggplant, tomatoes and armillaires de miel (mushrooms/ pic 3/ $14), and the beets with rasperries, halloumi cheese, quinoa “popcorn” and sesame seeds (pic 4/$14). All were delicious and beautifully presented. The real standout was the lamb tartare – it was the best red meat tartare I’ve ever had. It was fresh and cut into tiny pieces. All the different tastes complimented each other and created a perfectly balanced dish. It was really insane. Foodies, be prepared to be blown away.
Our mains followed – one friend took the wild sea bass with gnocchi, chanterelles, almonds, cherry tomatoes and olives (pic 5/ $27). It was exquisite. The fish was delicate and surrounded with a very light buttery sauce. Again, the textures and flavours were amazing. The rest of us chose the braised rabbit cavatelli with cauliflower, truffles and almonds (pic 6/ $24). This dish received mixed reviews. I liked it – with the weather getting cold, it was the type of dish I was craving. Rabbit is often overcooked and dry while pasta is often overcooked and mushy, but not here. The rabbit was juicy, and the pasta was perfectly al dente. The dish was buttery and slightly heavy in that oh-so-satisfying kind of way. My friends were less impressed partly because they had different expectations and party because they thought the dish lacked some finesse when compared to others.
Finally, we ordered two desserts to split. Yessss! Another restaurant that doesn’t disappoint when it comes to dessert! We had the chocolate ganache with bourbon jelly, caramelized bananas and mini bacon bits sprinked on top (above/ $10) and the jar of homemade cookies (below, $7). Both were really good. The chocolate ganache was nice and thick. The chocolate chip cookies were exactly what cookie lovers often crave – they were bursting with warm ooey-ness and gooey-ness. And with 7 in a jar, you get to have the experience over and over again. Soooo satisfying.
And there you have it – another must-try restaurant in Montreal.