Restaurant Review: Le Garde Manger

 

Le Garde MangerMontreal is a wonderful city to explore something new and relive the cherished old.  There’s always a new place to check out and there’s always an old haunt to visit again.  For my husband and I, Le Garde Manger  was one place we had yet to check off our list of places to go. Until now. This restaurant has been notorious for being difficult to get a reservation. Unless you’re a local, you would be hard pressed to get a same day reservation. Some people have even booked their table online three months in advance. Food Network celebrity chef Chuck Hughes has really sold many food lovers on his restaurant through his show Chuck’s Day Off.

Since we were  in the city for the long weekend, we kept our eye out for same day openings thanks to the handy Dinr app. At around noon that same day, there was an opening for a table for 2. The caveat to this happy news was that the reservation was at 10:15 pm. Being the early to bed early to rise  creatures of habit we are, we were willing to negotiate. Sacrifices are worth making. Our sense of adventure and food loving minds just tingled with excitement and this seemed like too good of an opportunity to pass up. We took two naps and a late afternoon visit to Schwartz as our pre-game plan “to ease the pain.” So here’s how our experience went down.

The food

At Le Garde Manger, there is a rotating menu. Here’s what was offered that night.

Le Garde Manger Menu

I ordered the Artic char with roasted carrots, sunflower seeds, sultana raisins, and raita. I’ve never had Artic char before but I think I picked a great place to try it for the first time. It was so well done.

Artic char with roasted carrots, sultanas, sunflower seeds, and raita

My husband ordered the hanger steak,roasted red pepper, watercress, and verde sauce.  This dish had beautiful, fresh, flavours that went so well together. The verde sauce really brought it all together.

peanutbutter profiteroles

Our main dishes were amazing but the desserts were the true superstars of the show! I ordered a goat cheese caramel cherry crumble.  Absolutely divine.

goat cheese caramel cherry crumble

You wouldn’t equate goat cheese with desserts. But this palate of mine was trusting enough to give it a try. Plus, Chuck Hughes created it, so how could you go wrong? Goat cheese combined with the salted caramel just paired perfectly together. And the cherry on top? Well, it was just that. The cherry on top. My husband ordered peanutbutter profiteroles.

Hanger steak with roasted red peppers, watercress, and verde sauce

My first bite of this made me pause. My second bite made me want to cry. Did I mention that this was my husband’s dessert? Oh yes, I did. It was just so good!  The choux pastry was light and airy and the peanutbutter filling was this fluffy cloud of heavenly goodness.

The service

Although we came early for our reservation, we were still left to wait an extra 15 minutes for our table. That can add up when you’re having dinner so late. But hey, you can’t shoo away other customers. The staff were incredibly friendly and hospitable. They all had this chilled out vibe similar to the one that Chuck Hughes has. I wouldn’t say the service was fast or slow, but it was  timely.  Which I like. We didn’t feel as though we were rushed out of the place to finish our meals.

The ambience

Being in this place was just surreal. As a fan of the show, I was just happy to step foot in the restaurant. Seeing that classic bay window where Chuck films conversations with his friends and the open kitchen area was incredible.  It was exactly what I had envisioned: a relaxed and fun atmosphere bursting with wonderful scents and flavours.

The verdict

Was it worth the wait? Was it worth the 2 naps we took in the middle of the day just to stay up and sleepily walk back to our Airbnb rental? Yes and yes. If we had the chance, we would absolutely come here again. Especially since I didn’t get to meet Chuck Hughes himself. It was his day off. Go figure. Le Garde Manger has now crossed over to our long list of old haunts to possibly revisit.

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