Monday, August 17, 2009

L'Origine in Old Montreal Disappoints

I'd really like to say that I enjoyed dining at Bistro L'Origine recently, but the truth is I didn't; neither did my dining partner. We both expected more. Located in front of the science centre in Old Montreal, L'Origine has been open since 2005 and bills itself as using local, organic or fair-trade ingredients in its menu which is inspired by Montreal's cultural heritage. You can see why I really wanted to like this place! Alas, it was not to be.

We started our meal with drinks. Disappointingly, most of the wines and beers were imports, I settled on a cocktail and my friend on the only local beer on tap on the menu. My Gingermania --a blend of gin, 7-up, ginger and other spices--was delicious and refreshing, however my friend had less luck. His pint of Chambly Blanche beer was served warm. Very warm. Not exactly refreshing on a hot summer's day.

The food was equally erratic. My soup of the day, maple-lentil, was delicious and an interesting blend of flavours. The market-fresh salad was also very good, and the plates of nachos and charcuterie we saw floating by headed to other tables looked fabulous. Our main courses, however, were both disappointing. I chose the Table d'Hote: a chicken in a tomato sauce served over couscous. It was quite tasty, but very ordinary. The server also couldn't confirm if the chicken was organic or not, which is odd in a restaurant billing promoting itself on sustainable principles.

My partner fared less well with his choice, roast beef and portabello mushroom on a bun with caramelized onions. It was simply horrible. On the menu, the combination sounded intriguing, but the caramelized onion was so sweet, and there was so much of it, that it just overwhelmed any other flavours. (Yes, that is all onions you see in the photo!) There was also only a single thin slice of roast beef in the sandwich. I'm not sure that we would have tasted it even without the onion disaster.

We arrived at 5pm. At this time the bistro had live entertainment. It was simply a singer and a guitar player, which would normally be fine, but it was so loud through the speakers that we could barely have a conversation. We were both relieved when the duo took a break. The subsequent 'chill' music provided by the dj was a much better match to the atmosphere.

On the plus side, our waitress was very nice and friendly; the prices are quite reasonable for Old Montreal; many of the local suppliers are mentionned by name on the menu; and the overall ambiance is perfectly suited to a terrace on the Quai. If I'm looking for a quick nacho nibble and a drink with friends while soaking in the sun in the Old Port, I'd probably go back. But I'd ask for a glass of ice alongside my drinks, and give the main courses a miss.

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