Story and photos by Manos Angelakis
1616 rue Sherbrooke Ouest
We were in Montréal to experience some of the new gastronomic treasures in the city’s Golden Square Mile, one of its most prestigious neighborhoods. One of the newest was the XVI XVI Restaurant.
Cédric Moindrot, the owner and originator of the restaurant, had a catering company in Paris; he fell in love with Montréal during a visit and decided to move to this charming city and open a restaurant here by assembling an exemplary culinary and beverage team, including “Robert the Bartender”, the brainchild of Cédric whose birth he carefully orchestrated.
Actually, the bartender’s official name is R1B1 – which stands for First Robot Bartender – but “he” prefers to be called “Robert”.
“Robert” is located at the bottom half of the Montréal restaurant where there is a long bar with a human bartender and “Robert” who operates behind his own shorter counter where he mixes drinks, pours wines and flirts with the female customers. The programming of this robotic bartender is superb; “he” has been given a sense of humor so “he” can converse as well as respond to questions and “he” has the capability to create a variety of cocktails and variations on particular drinks. “Robert” can respond to questions even of a personal nature such as how do you dress for Montreal’s cold winter weather. His response: “I only need a jacket because I have no legs”.
Alexis Taoufiq, the human mixologist behind the long bar, has created a number of intriguing variations on traditional cocktails plus he serves the classics, of course.
On the first floor, where the dining room and kitchen are located, live human chefs create exceptional dishes, all at Michelin-star level of expertise. The restaurant is very new; by the time this review is published it would be open for only about 5 months but is already well known to the city’s bon vivant community. The kitchen team is comprised of 3 chefs, plus the appropriate staff.
The menu, which is seasonal, has “three services” i.e. choice of a starter, choice of a main course and choice of dessert. There is also a tasting menu. Both menus have vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options which are available on request.
We started our meal with an amuse bouche of oysters on a bed of salt, with ossetra caviar and a dab of thick cranberry sauce. It was served in a haze of liquid nitrogen creating a squeal of delight from one of my dining partners.
Next we tasted the Quail starter with comelina, cherry and confit radish; a Lobster starter with confit tomato and wild rose hollandaise; and Beef Bourguignon with sunchoke purée, lardons and pickled mushrooms. All three were outstanding small plate presentations that packed a real punch of flavor.
We also tasted three of the four Main Courses.
The Sea Bass had sides of sautéed spinach and mashed potatoes with spruce and black truffle (yum!), there was a Roasted Guinea Fowl with pommes Anna and black garlic sauce, and a Burnt Duck Breast with garlic foam, parsnips, hazelnuts and juniper berries (double yum!!).
Two of the four desserts were quite classic; a chocolate with cocoa mousse, dark chocolate and yogurt ice cream and a Mandarin Fruit with almonds, white chocolate, chiboust cream and yuzu. The most unusual was the Beetroot Sabayon, with sweet wine, angelica and almonds. Again all were picture-perfect presentations to please the eye and the palate.
By the time we finished our meal the restaurant was quite full but the senior chef, a young lady from Montréal, came to our table for a brief conversation. Watching her concentration as she worked in the open kitchen it was no surprise to hear of her dedication to her craft.
© December 2018 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.