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Dish at Fantôme restaurant

Le Fantôme

Montreal, QC

Le Fantôme • Montreal, QC

1832 rue William 514-846-1832

Le Fantôme is a family affair. Kabir Kapoor, whose parents have run the Montreal Indian restaurant Le Taj for three decades, is the type of gregarious front-of-house host who calls you by name (or fake name, in my case) every time he drops by to pour a glass of Vouvray. Chef Jason Morris plates the eight or so courses of his tasting menu atop ceramic dishes made by his mother, Pauline, while big abstract canvases by his great-grandfather lend drama to the walls.

This Griffintown room occupies a liminal space between technical virtuosity and romantic sentimentality. The host stand – more of an altar, really – is an antique chest of drawers crowned by a mound of melted candle wax that grows craggier with each night’s moody ambience. Lobster is grilled over charcoal, and the dense, charred nuggets of tail meat are paired with a rich sparkling crémant d’Alsace. Poached halibut, served with morels and kombu purée, is so perfectly moelleux that it slides apart like layers of a roasted onion.

I watch Morris at the pass as his tweezers swirl furiously in a small stainless saucepan. Barely a minute later, I’ve decimated those strands of poached asparagus, tender like fresh tagliatelle, spun in a generous bath of butter and laced with shallots and rhubarb. Then Kapoor sets down a supplemental course. Inside a wax-paper bag with a cartoonish hand-drawn ghost on it are two slices of brioche gridded with black grill marks, sandwiched around peanut butter, Pauline’s strawberry jam and a thin cut of foie gras torchon. The PBFGJ, as they call it, appeals to my nostalgia in a very grown-up way.

While we’re carving out room for dessert with a trou normand of Calvados, two women in pantsuits and heels sit down next to us. They’re regulars, and Kapoor talks up the newer dishes on the menu. “But, of course,” he adds, “you have to get the sandwich too!” We all possess a second ghost stomach for just such emergencies.

Inspiration of the Year
Fantôme Art Dish

Le Fantôme’s Jason MorrisOn Art

Our beet dish is an homage to my great-grandfather, Lee Morris. We have 400 of his art pieces in the family, but they’d never been exhibited publicly until we opened the restaurant. His technique was collage: He would cut glossy coloured shapes out of The New York Times Magazine. I make it fresh every day using three types of beets (golden, Chioggia and Bull’s Blood) cooked three ways (boiled, salt-baked and grilled). Slicing them on a mandoline and layering them in a giant mosaic, which we cut up and plate with crème fraîche and hazelnut praline, reminds me of the way he would work.

Keeping Art in the Family

Le Mousso, Montreal
Sketches by Jean-Paul Mousseau, grandfather of chef Antonin Mousseau-Rivard
Piano Piano, Toronto
20 abstract canvases painted by Charlotte, chef Victor Barry’s toddler
Foxy, Montreal
Photos of Foxy, the pet dog of restaurateurs Dyan Solomon and Éric Girard

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1832 rue William 514-846-1832

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