Part of the name of this new establishment alone attracts attention. After all, Le Mousso is undoubtedly the most recognized fine gastronomy restaurant in Montreal. But we don’t come here to be amazed by high-flying gastronomic compositions, rather to find comforting French brasserie classics. This new space adjacent to Espace St-Denis has a lot of ambition and resources, and could become the standard-bearer of a neighborhood that is searching for itself, once we have finished gutting its commercial arteries. And the gamble seems to be paying off; the restaurant rose to 8th place on enRoute’s Best New Canadian Restaurants 2023 list.
Unlikely alliance or stroke of genius? In any case, by asking Antonin Mousseau-Rivard to take the reins of his new project, businessman Jean Pilote – rather well-known in the Quebec region for having carried out the rebirth of the Capitol – had flair. This is because if we know the chef for Le Mousso and his niche offering, his first love is French cuisine. Its ambition is not to reinvent it, but to reproduce its classics in an impeccable manner. On a day-to-day basis, Samuel Sauvé Lamothe (Laurie Raphaël Montréal, L’Express, Le Boulevardier) acts as executive chef. The wine list is the work of Samy Kadoch.
There are two types of atmosphere at Molière. That of the pre-show, frantic, with staff who have to drive, drive and customers in a hurry, in a hurry. Then that of the other evenings, more relaxed. Our server seems to appreciate, like us, the calm atmosphere of this early Wednesday evening that my friend and I will be spending at the bar.
Before us lies the elegant Molière menu, which fits on a large laminated sheet. There’s the “Quick” section – think croque monsieur, tartares, salads. We focus more on soups and starters (domed onion soup, frog’s leg with parsley, etc.), fish and shellfish (Rockefeller oysters, lobster in thermidor, etc.), meats and rotisseries (veal’s liver with Grenobloise, Toulouse sausage…).
While we sip our cocktails, the photogenic deviled eggs and their remoulade present themselves. Pretty jewels to devour, with airy, delectable stuffing. And remoulade, which often suffers from too much mayonnaise or vinegar, is perfectly balanced here. Hard to beat. “It takes me back to my first trip to France, sitting in a brasserie! », says my sidekick.
The achovy bone is a very greasy and salty little sin. As someone who loves anchovies, I am served with this recipe of Provençal origin which also contains capers and garlic, all topped with breadcrumbs and placed on a generous marrow. A little bread with that to soak in that decadence? Yes please !
While the service promised to be ultra-fast, we waited more than necessary to receive our main dishes. Little kitchen imbroglio? Perhaps, as suggested by the slightly stiff Grenobloise sauce (with white butter, lemon and capers) which accompanies my friend’s cod and the unevenly cooked sweetbreads on my plate. Inaccuracies that are easy to forget when faced with the perfect cooking of the fish and the incredible foie gras and port sauce which coats my offal (and thin strips of black truffles), lustrous, sticky with collagen, finger-licking good. The mashed potatoes, smooth and creamy, don’t give away either.
We fall in love with mushrooms in Madame Mousseau-style salad. Raw and finely passed through a mandolin, they are enveloped in a “green goddess” style sauce. Simple, but surprisingly attractive.
We are very full, but there is still dessert. A rum baba for two is enough – cut in the center, it proudly shows its well-shaped dough, bathed in syrup and accompanied by pastry cream. A good shot of rum is added at the table. No need for a digestive with this!
A short selection of house cocktails sets the tone: we stay, as with the menu, in classic waters, even if a few small deviations are allowed! My amaro spritz offers an interesting variation, a little more bitter and herbaceous, to the traditional aperol, while my friend sips a cocktail somewhat reminiscent of the Manhattan, Jeune Carré, which oscillates between smoky and bitter notes.
The wine list is quite accessible, in a wide range of prices. You can just as easily drink a glass of Fiol Prosecco for $11 as you can drink a big gun for several hundred dollars. A Côtes de Provence rosé sits alongside a Chinon or a Bourgogne Blanc from Nicolas Plotel, but you can also have fun digging through private imports. There are biodynamic and natural wines, for those who are interested. After challenging our waiter a bit, we tasted an excellent Pet Nat Rosé from the Loire called PCR, a convincing combination of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in spontaneous fermentation.
The amount of the bill will depend on your appetite and thirst. It can be reasonable overall, but it can also climb very quickly. Dishes in the Quick section start at $18; entrees range from $14 to $32; count on $35 for a main course and around fifteen for a dessert.
Although located on the first floor, Le Molière par Mousso has an elevator, accessible from Espace St-Denis, for people with reduced mobility. You will find some vegetarian options on the menu, but it is more focused on animal proteins. The place has a private lounge that can accommodate groups of up to 50 people.
Le Molière par Mousso is open from 11:30 a.m. to midnight from Tuesday to Friday, from 4:30 p.m. to midnight on Saturday and from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday.