The Sommelier William Saulnier's list is reasonably priced and heavy on imported, organic, biodynamic and natural wines.
★★ 1/2 of ★★★★
Address: 5064 Papineau Ave. (near Laurier Avenue)
Open: 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday
Location on the Internet: pineau.ca
Wheelchair Access: yea
Cards: Main Cards
Vegetarian friendly: yea
Parking: Street with meters
Price range: Tickets $ 6- $ 20; main courses $ 18 to $ 32; $ 10 desserts. Five-course tasting menu $ 65, additional wine pairings: $ 45.
When a new restaurant opens, my first question is always: "Who is the chef?". Some clients focus on the place, others in the decoration and even others in the style of the cuisine. But for me none of this matters as much as who is putting the food on my plate. However, when news of the first restaurant of the week arrived, the family name on the list of players was not the chef, but the sommelier, William Saulnier. I remember him fondly from the time he served me, first at Les 400 Coups and then at Hoogan & Beaufort when it opened in 2016. It was not only cool, calm and collected, it also served wonderful wines to accompany the Wonderful Hoogan food. It was all so wonderful that I was glad to know he had resurfaced in this six-week-old restaurant. And with a name like Pineau, no doubt the wine would be the center of the front row.
Pineau's address is familiar to me, because until this summer it housed the informal bistro Les Cons Servent, where wine was also very important. But, save for the bar and the countless shelves behind, the ambiance looks totally different now, with black and gray walls and dim lighting highlighted by an occasional reflector. As for food, this has also changed a lot. Pineau's chef, Sarak Tiann, has created a menu where local and seasonal ingredients are served through presentations of artistic dishes. Unlike the small-plate style, now common, Tiann has opted for a more standardized menu along with the five-course tasting option for a reasonable value of $ 65. Although not a wine bar by itself, one can certainly go to Pineau for a quick bite and sample one or several wines by the glass. Those for a full bottle are well catered for, as Saulnier's list is a reasonable and heavy price on imported, organic, bio-dynamic and natural private wines.
The menu starts with a selection of snacks ranging from olives to oysters. We opted for a type of nouveau shrimp cocktail where the shrimp is served with green salsa as well as a plate featuring slices of smoked duck draped over croutons with ricotta and ginger drizzles and yuzu syrup. I enjoyed both dishes and would recommend starting with either, especially with one of the four local beers on tap (the Isle of Garde's IPA Américaine is one of the best beers I've enjoyed in ages) or possibly a cocktail. The "Pigeon Cream" made with tequila, grapefruit juice and a sugar syrup flavored with ears of corn, had an impressive balance and depth of flavor. Mortal, remember you, but delicious.
For the appetizers, from which we select the roasted carrots with cumin, and the skirt steak with marrow. The carrot dish consisted of a carrot and cumin puree with roasted carrots and a sesame crumble placed on the edge of the plate. Strangely enough, what failed here were the carrots, which were very overcooked and dull, tasting more of their honey frosting than the sweetness we associate with carrots. The mash was also a lack, as the cumin again stole the show. Nothing more to say apart from what I think they need from a new carrot supplier.
The second starter featured a hot strip of skewered steak thinly sliced and grilled with a great musky flavor. Next door was a handful of Jerusalem artichoke chips and a cold, emulsified cream made with chives and marrow which was good (very marinated), but could have been better served hot.
For main courses, we went for a fish (halibut) and a beef (duck). Although perfectly cooked, the halibut had a texture so dense that everyone at the table kept saying, "Wow, this is a firm halibut." I hope the halibut is firm, but more delicate than firm. Despite the thick meat, the fish was excellent and well enriched with blue flowers of cauliflower, king mushrooms, tomato sauce and a single grilled leek placed on the counter. As for the duck, or more specifically an effilloché of duck legs, the moist meat was piled under a thick slice of roasted brioche, along with shiitake mushrooms and a parsnip puree, with parsnip chips and squares of crispy duck skin to contrast all those soft textures. I liked everything on the plate, except for the bread, which served no real purpose. I should scoop the duck up … nibble it between the bites … dip it in my wine? I'm not sure.
Of the three desserts offered, we chose the pile of pressed apple and the choux de praline. The pile of apples was a failure, unfortunately, since the crème anglaise tonka bean served on the side was very strong (when used with a very heavy hand, tonka bean tastes like soap) and the apples were undercooked and hardly caramelized. I turned my attention to the cute corkscrew next door, which was nice, but the only high point on that $ 10 plate. The choux, though, were wonderful. The dough was light and crunchy and the homemade praline filling had a pronounced caramelized hazelnut flavor and serious crispness. Great.
Not everything was perfect in Pineau, but the drink side of the equation was certainly faultless, as was the service. Throughout the evening, Saulnier served us real winners, including an Italian orange wine, a chenin / terret mix from southern France, a Montepulciano and a Bourgogne Aligoté, all of which were interesting and appropriate to our food. Ultimately, this element of discovery is the main attraction of this promising little restaurant, or as my meal companion told me after the first sip and the first bite: "How cool to go out tonight, on a quiet Tuesday, sharing new things . "I could not agree more.
You can listen to Lesley Chesterman on Medium Large (95.1 FM) from ICI Radio-Canada Première on Tuesdays at 10am, and at CHOM (97.7 FM) on Wednesdays at 7:10 AM.