During our dealer trip to Montreal earlier this year, my colleague Todd was in charge of picking out restaurants that could handle a group of about 25 people. He did very well with the previous night's choice - Le Local (click here to see the entry on Le Local) - and this particular evening he had made arrangements for the group to dine at Le Club Chasse et Peche which translates into The Hunt and Fish Club in the Old Montreal section of the city just down the street from the city hall.
After graduating from culinary school in the late 70's, Claude Pelletier bounced around kitchens in the Montreal area before he became the head chef at the La Sapiniere restaurant in the ski resort town of Val-David, Quebec. In 1995, Pelletier opened his first restaurant - Restaurant Mediterraneo (the Med Grill) in Montreal. He closed that restaurant in 2001 and opened a new place - Cube - an upscale restaurant located in the Hotel St. Paul, a boutique hotel in Old Montreal.
In 2004, Pelletier opened Le Club Chasse et Peche in an old building on Rue Saint-Claude very near the St. Lawrence River in Montreal. (see map) From the outside, the building is nondescript and the Le Club Chasse et Peche sign hangs from the side of the building. (As an aside, Pelletier and two other partners including Le Club Chasse et Peche maitre d' and co-owner Hubert Marsolais opened the popular Le Filet steakhouse on Mount Royal in Montreal in 2011.)
The dining area of Le Club Chasse et Peche was sort of dark and somewhat low key, but in a very elegant way. The tables were covered with white linen table cloths. The very interesting light fixtures that hung from the low ceiling had white ceramic geese at the top.
We were seated in the bar area at three tables. It was cozy, but it wasn't overcrowded. After we were seated, I immediately ordered up a St. Ambroise Pale Ale, a wonderful pale that my colleague Todd turned me on to a couple of years ago.
Because we had a large group, we had a fixed menu at Le Club Chasse et Peche. The first thing they brought out were seared scallops in a fennel puree and topped with a lemon confit. These were just fabulous. The scallops were big and meaty, the lemon confit was thick and had a great citrus taste that went well with the scallops.
But the highlight of the evening was the braised piglet risotto with foie gras shavings. On the menu that was prepared for the evening, it just said that is was braised piglet risotto - my colleague Todd was smart enough to know that some of the American dealers could possibly balk at eating foie gras, but not so if they didn't know there was foie gras in the dish. "This stuff is killer," Todd told me earlier in the day. "But I made sure that they left the foie gras off the description when I had them make up the menu for tonight."
This was... Well... Hmmm... I don't know if I can use a word that would adequately describe the taste of the braised pork risotto. Awesome. Unbelievable. Stupefying. Magnificent. It was simply one of the best things that I've ever tasted in my life. And the dealers sitting with me at my table were all in agreement. Weeks after we were in Montreal, I still had dealers commenting on how great the braised pork risotto was.
The meal could have ended right there for most of us, but the main entree that evening was a duck magret dish. It's basically the duck breast of a duck that's been force fed to make foie gras. Yeah, yeah... I know. But it's SOOOO good! The duck breast was cooked to a medium rare and served with a side consisting of a blood orange, turnip, spelt (dinkel wheat) and maple syrup parfait. The duck breast was also fabulous. And, OH! So rich! I like a good duck breast, but I was a little apprehensive because the last time I'd had duck I'd gotten sick during my trip to Paris last summer. But this was fine and I had no after effects this time. Along with dinner, we had a wonderful Crozes-Hermitage red from the Alain Graillot winery in the Northern Rhone region of France. It was a full-bodied red that really brought out the highlights of the duck breast.
After dinner, a dessert menu was presented to the table. I was stuffed from the meal and didn't want any dessert. But I did get a Macallan Amber scotch that was so damn smooth. However, many of the dealers sitting at my table went with dessert. There were five options available on the dessert menu including a lime pie that caught my attention. But it was topped with white chocolate and coconut shavings. I'm not big on coconut, so I went with the scotch instead.
One of the more popular desserts at the table was the caramel and milk chocolate tart with an 80% chocolate sorbet. This looked rather decadent and I was told that it was also very rich. I didn't want to spoil the taste of the scotch, so I passed when one of my dealers offered me a bite. "You don't know what you're missing," he told me as he pulled back the plate.
The other popular dessert at the table was the maple syrup parfait topped with dark chocolate shavings and served with a red berry sauce. Now, I DID try a bite of this as I'm a sucker for real maple syrup - and this was the real stuff, not the high-fructose store-bought maple syrup. It was simply heavenly. The desserts were a big hit.
Actually, the whole meal was a big hit at Le Club Chasse et Peche. This was a world class dinner. From the seared scallops to the out-of-this-world braised pork with foie gras to the excellent duck magret finished with the eclectic desserts, the experience at Le Club Chasse et Peche was one of the more memorable meals I've ever had. The service was excellent, the food was equally excellent and it was a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere in the place. Weeks after we were there, my colleague Todd is still receiving kudos for picking this place.