Chef Simon Mathys’ passion for local ingredients and the Quebec culinary landscape is palpable in every dish at this understated eatery.
Like the shy kid who doesn’t want to attract too much attention to himself, the place we’re looking for is modestly tucked away in the family–friendly neighbourhood of Rosemont. But once we make our way through a pair of aluminum doors under a black sign bearing eleven spindly conifers, we’re walloped by the plaintive, powerful voice of Sharon Jones and her Dap–Kings on “How Long Do I Have to Wait for You?”
They’re calling us home to chef Simon Mathys’ first solo business venture, a warm room with teal–green walls, pressed–tin ceiling, utilitarian leather banquettes and brass–tack–covered chairs. There’s a generosity of spirit here too, in the way Mathys gives a shout–out on his menu to his entire staff, including his wife and co–owner, Viki Brisson–Sylvestre, “without whom none of this would be possible,” he notes.
The first course of our optional tasting menu – bright green peas blanched in their own juices, garnished with camomile petals and thin triangles of lemon over camomile flan – confirms our hunch that there’s something extraordinary going on here. Mathys is speaking the same gastronomic language that won him acclaim at restaurants Manitoba and Racines: poetic homages to the food of his native Quebec. But here his sentences ring with the bold confidence of someone who has truly come home.
We swoon over a fat, ruby–red slice of La Ferme des Quatre–Temps tomato sprinkled with herbs and flowers and resting on a vivid green–gold slick of camelina oil. Our server pours over it a small pitcher of hot, fragrant smoked beef fat to complete a haunting ode to field and farm that deserves to be set to music. The fruity Cante Gau carignan blend from Domaine de La Réaltière (a biodynamic Provence wine from an international list selected by sommelier Joannie Lévesque) is the final flourish in a resounding chorus. That’s what makes a meal at Mastard so complete and satisfying: You can’t tell the background singers from the lead.
Don’t miss: Abstract murals by Ludovic Marsolais–Viau inspired by the non–figurative Plasticien Quebec art movement popular in the 1950s.