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Food

First Date Series: Le Continental

Posted by Tara / July 2, 2011

Le Continental EntranceThe First Date Series takes a look at restaurants in Montreal where you might want to go -- or might not want to go -- on a first date. Le Continental is bustling, and chic. The cuisine is uncomplicated, but it's exceptional. If a less-intimate, yet still upscale date is what you're after, Le Continental is the place.

Le ContinentalThis restaurant once sat sligthly further north on St Denis than its current location at Duluth. A 2007 fire took out a large portion of the neighbouring block, and Le Continental burned to the ground. Now, a since renovated Le Continental maintains its pre-blaze European bistro ambiance - circular ship-like windows, world maps and little airplanes allude to travel, and black and white mosaic floors and a large wooden bar are reminiscent of Paris eateries.

Le Continental is classy, but relaxed, and usually pretty busy. Although the restaurant is not what I'd call intimate, that's not to say it's not fitting for a first date. The clanging of cutlery and the general hubbub of the place can alleviate some of the first-date awkwardness that may be felt at a practically silent candlelit venue.

The food at Le Continental is excellent, and that bodes well for any first date. On this particular visit to Le Continental I was not on a date, but rather a fifth wheel to two couples on dates - an event for which this restaurant is also appropriate. We started with two appetizers, a curry squash soup, and the veal sweetbreads. The soup, just thick enough, but not yet chunky, was creamed with coconut milk, and the mellow curry let the squash flavour really come through.
Le Continental squash soupThe sweetbreads were served beneath a hearty mushroom sauce, with a fried crisp of salted pork. Though this dish of glands is not necessarily my thing, these were rich, savoury, and literally melted in our mouths.
Le Continental sweetbreadsAs far as the main courses went, every dish was outstanding. Spaghetti carbonara arrived with the raw egg sitting on top, ready to be mixed into the cheesy, bacony dish, and the bison was served à la steak frites, with a grainy mustard sauce complimenting the juicy meat.
Le Continental carbonaraLe Continental bisonThe organic salmon fillet was grilled rare, with the center bright pink and just barely cooked, and came with a lively mango-spotted rice. A semolina ratatouille was served with the lamb shank, which was so tender it was falling off the bone.
Le Continental lambThe risotto, a vegetarian dish, really blew our minds. The risotto 'galette' sat upon a bed of grilled eggplant and zucchini, topped with mushrooms and half a giant tomato. Green asparagus lay beside this assemblage, which was all delicately flavoured by a sherry-based tomato broth that filled the bottom of the plate.
Le Continental risottoAlthough we were stuffed, sharing one dessert seemed like a good idea, and the chocolate fondant did not disappoint. Made of 60% cocoa, the warm chocolate that flowed out of its cakey shell was perfectly bitter and sweet all at once. The dessert was everything you want in a chocolate fondant - hot, dark, and not overly rich or too sweet.
Le Continental chocolate fondantThe service at Le Continental is attentive, and extremely unobtrusive, which I generally appreciate on a date. And the food is exceptional - fine French food without breaking the bank is a sure fire way to impress a first date.

Le Continental is located at 4007 rue St. Denis, and is open Sunday to Tuesday from 5.30pm to midnight, and Wednesday to Saturday from 5.30pm to 1am..

Photos from Le Continental website.

Check out some of our other First Date ideas like the Griffintown Cafe or Bonnys Vegetarian and Organic Cuisine.

Do you have suggestions for other fun first date places that Midnight Poutine should consider? Leave a comment below!

Discussion

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