Pilote is a newish restaurant in Old Montreal. Given my conservative, anal, over analytical nature I’m rarely among the first to try a new restaurant but last weekend I was in the mood for something different. Plus, a quick scan of the almost unanimously glowing user reviews on Urbanspoon had me feeling pretty confident. When we arrived and took our seats I immediately noticed that the place only has five appetizers and five mains on the menu. I feel like that is usually a good sign, so I was intrigued.
To start I ordered the pulled pigs trotter raviolo with wild mushrooms and truffle milk. It wasn’t bad, but let’s be real, it was a single raviolo stuffed with a bit of pork and topped with mushrooms. The truffle milk was a white foam sitting on top. I was left wanting more. I also thought that the whole dish was a little over salted (I’m a salt freak, so if I’m saying that, it means something).
The lady opted for the butternut squash soup. One of our dining companions had the same. Everyone at the table agreed that this was a really good soup – nice texture and really packed with sweet flavour. The peppered marshmallow floating on top was also… interesting.
For the mains I went with the venison and my girlfriend went with the sea bream.
The venison was a tenderloin, cooked medium rare and sliced thin, served with braised barley, petits legumes and chocolate ($34). The meat was nicely cooked and quite tender but to me it lacked a bit of seasoning. The barley and vegetables were basic. Ok, but basic. It tasted like a home cooked meal, but not in the good way, if that makes sense. The whole dish is dusted with chocolate shavings at the table. Truthfully, I couldn’t really taste the chocolate, so it didn’t do anything for me. If you put rare meat in front of me with a glass of red wine I’m going to eat it all and drink the wine, so that’s what I did, but the dish didn’t wow.
The sea bream ($24 or $26, maybe $28, I forget) was very nicely prepared, with a crisp, salty skin and flaky white flesh. The rest of the dish didn’t rise to the same level though. The prawn that it was served with and the accompanying carrot butter and vegetables were just adequate.
One of our dining companions ordered the bone in filet mignon with fondant potato and maple glazed parsnips ($38). It was ordered medium rare. The first one came well done. I’ll assume it was a pure mix up. They gladly replaced it, although the delay as we waited for the replacement kind of killed the vibe a bit. A plate of bison tartare was offered in recompense, so we got to try that. It was severely under seasoned. In fact the only flavour I got was a hint of onion. When the second filet arrived it was a proper medium rare. I tasted the meat. It was a nice piece of filet mignon, tender and juicy, but there was nothing that made it special.
As I mentioned, the vibe had been killed, so after our mains we passed on dessert and opted to head elsewhere to continue the evening. At the end of the day Pilote was a classic 2 for me. It wasn’t by any means bad, but I wouldn’t go back on my own. I’ve heard that the terrasse is beautiful during the summer, so maybe that would help. But on this night, sitting in the dark (hence the lack of pictures), half empty dining room I was left thinking that we should have headed a few blocks over to Chasse et Peche, paid just a bit more and had a perfect meal.
Price: $125 + tip for two (starters and mains, half a bottle of wine)
Rating: 2 – Meh, it’s ok.
Pilote - 160 Rue Notre Dame East – 514.508.3883