Have you ever been away from somewhere for a long period of time that when you finally returned, it’s not the same as you remember it? I don’t mean excusing yourself from the breakfast table to come back and find that someone jacked your last piece of bacon. There was a spot that I used to frequent very often for lunch and brunch that I stopped going to for a while. I guess reality happened hit them hard and they ended up closing after decades in the Montreal restaurant scene. It’s been a while since I’ve been there, but it was a favourite place of mine to go for lunch when I was in the area. La Petite Ardoise, an Outremont staple for many decades finally served its last croque monsieur and recently has reopened as Wilfrid.
Big shoes to fill as a neighbourhood bistro, Wilfrid serves seasonal and local cuisine from a kitchen headed by a well established local chef who trained in some of the world’s finest kitchens. I checked out their brunch service on a cold weekend who’s menu consists of eight hearty and unique plates that deviate from typical brunch items.
We started with the “baked goods basket” for two, which consisted of toast, banana and oat muffin, cheddar scone, hazelnut and berry danish, served with a side of whipped butter, blueberry jam, and apple butter. Everything was homemade and arrived hot, something I appreciate. A definite sweet way to start the morning, or carboload before a marathon. The “basket” was a nice combination of sweet and savoury.
The fresh herb omelet, mushrooms on toast, watercress, served with potatoes. A classic French omelet with soft and slithery egg curds in the middle folded in with a handful of fresh herbs. The earthy sauté of mushrooms on top of whole wheat toast added a rich savouriness to the dish. The crispy fried potatoes added a great texture and crunch to each forkful.
I know what you’re thinking, where’s the watercress? This wasn’t a question until after we finished eating the plate and realized that the watercress was missing, we didn’t inquire about it but only assume that perhaps they ran out or didn’t have that day… or maybe they were taking brunch in a completely different level by writing “watercress” on top of the omelet in Japanese kanji with shoots of chives.
Challah French toast with caramelized apples and pastry cream and creme fraiche. Two very generous slices of egg bread battered and cooked on the flat top – and this is the secret to the best French toast out there; the fact that the sweet egg-soaked bread shares the same cooking space as all the savoury items in the kitchen (eggs, bacon, sausages…) is that gives this dish its umami. A slight savouriness to the dish, it is completely balanced by the caramelized apples and cool custardy pastry cream.
What’s breakfast without bacon? Unfortunately Wilfrid doesn’t serve bacon with the brunch. However, they do serve their own take on the idea of bacon; fried pork belly. A confit slab of fatty and unctuous brined pork belly that’s crispy along the edges and soft in the middle. The meat was sharp and salty which was off set by the buttery fat which was sticky, tender and delicious.
I was sad to see the former establishment go, but I’m happy to see Wilfrid take its place. With an illustrious kitchen team headed by Chef Michel Ross there is no saying where the seasonal menus will go. An enthusiastic jump into casual dining with classic fine dining refinement, I look forward to exploring more of Wilfrid’s lunch and dinner menu.
Wilfrid sur Laurier
222 Laurier Ouest