Bonheur d’occasion in Montreal takes the number six spot on the Top 10 list of Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2023.
Montreal does this type of restaurant like no other. You walk into what looks like an unassuming neighbourhood spot and then pow! Right in the kisser!
In a spare whitewashed room with 40–odd seats, long–time friends came together to create a collective dream. Chef Philippe Gauthier, who cut his teeth at the excellent Bouillon Bilk, is joined by Angélique Custeau, along with pastry chef Victor Adnet. They create one of the most generous meals of the year with a level of hospitality best described as kindness.
It starts with a Romario Gin Fizz: rosemary–infused gin, lime and a thoughtfully vegan foam. Then a gorgeous fan of fried enoki mushrooms is plated with meaty steamed asparagus, cucumber and lettuce for a crispy–crunchy, two–temperature salad. “Do you like it?” asks our smiling server. “We love it!” Softshell crabs on homemade buns with special sauce taste like a succulent Filet o’ Quebec Maritimes. “Do you like it?” “We love it!” Chef Gauthier drops off a platter of juicy duck, straight from the open kitchen, strewn with crushed olives and served with shiso leaves to use like fragrant lettuce cups. “I hope you like it.” (Oui!)
The mille feuille is all shattering chards of phyllo dough, deeply caramelized with maple sugar and layered with gently whipped sweet clover cream.
The Tin Flute (Bonheur d’occasion) is a classic Quebec novel focused on a family searching for love and understanding in this Saint–Henri neighbourhood. I found all of that and more in dessert.