Monday, March 14, 2011

MAS CUISINE


We are happy to say that our dinner at MAS Cuisine was a big success. The first time we had heard of this restaurant, we were shopping for vegetables at Atwater market when our friendly produce vendor handed us a business card for the restaurant along with our bags and suggested we go for dinner. The card remained on the bulletin board in our kitchen constantly reminding us that we should go give it a try but we always overlooked it for our usual favorite spots. MAS is only open Monday through Friday and closed weekends, so this Friday night we went to MAS Cuisine to eat, now were kicking ourselves for not having gone sooner.

MAS Cuisine is in the most unlikely of locations; on Wellington street in the heart of Verdun. It's small in a charming and quaint sort of way, and nothing about the restaurant matches or even vaguely resembles its surroundings, truly a diamond in the rough. We sit down to look at the menu and see that it is prix-fixe. The only prices on the menu are next to each of the main dishes, the price next to any given dish also includes your choice of any of one of the nights appetizers and desserts. There is also a very nice selection of wines by the glass and perhaps one of the most reasonable and affordable wine lists we have seen in a restaurant with this calibre of food. It was only after the meal was done and all of the courses were sampled that we both agreed on something we rarely say. The meal itself was flawless, not a single component of any dish was unfit or out of place. Everything was well seasoned, well thought out and cooked fabulously.

We noticed that a strong emphasis has been put on service in this restaurant and it was really nice to see. It is to be acknowledged that the front of house staff was 100% on point, friendly and focused, completely aware of their dining room in all aspects at all times. Dish descriptions are not really elaborately detailed on the menu but the excellent front of house staff have all the answers at a moments notice, no need for asking or consulting with the kitchen, no "let me ask, I'll be back in a moment". They are prepared to describe at length any menu item you ask them to with precision; real professionals, no fly-by-night restaurant wait staff in this establishment.  

After a quality bread basket of 4 different varieties of in-house baked bread,  we had our appetizers. A sweet onion soup garnished with sautéed oyster mushrooms, croutons and black truffle oil as well as a poached egg dish served over artisanal prosciutto, parmesan foam, a simple arugula salad and cheddar crisps. The egg ran delicious fatty yolk over the rest of the dish upon cutting, the prosciutto was of great quality, not overly salty with an ideal fat to flesh ratio. The parmesan foam clearly tasted of parmesan and really did fit the flavor profile of the dish. The salad was light and the cheddar crisp tasted like a big crispy goldfish cheddar cracker snack, a fun dish to start a meal. The sweet onion soup was unexpectedly light and delightfully fresh tasting. It was not classically made with dark beef stock for depth and caramelized onion for sweetness. Instead it was most reminiscent of what you want when you order a sweet corn soup in the summer. It was not creamy but natural, light and milky tasting in the best sense. The oyster mushrooms piled in the center of the bowl, which the soup had been poured over provided the hearty, meaty depth you crave and the little puddles of truffle oil floating on the surface were visible and really strong tasting. This was not the all too familiar case of truffle oil being used cheaply and gratuitously.

Poached Egg, Artisanal Prosciutto, Parmesan Foam, Cheddar Crisp
Sweet Onion Soup, Oyster Mushrooms, Croutons, Black Truffle Oil

The main dishes we ordered were veal sweetbreads served with grilled veal tongue over carrot, parsnip and sauteed baby spinach and arugula garnished with fresh fingerling potato chips and a sauce charcutière as well as a dish of seared scallops and head cheese croquette over a sautée of brussels sprout leaves and halved cherry tomatoes with a smoked paprika foam. Starting with the veal, the sweetbreads were cooked to perfection, they truly did melt in your mouth and the portion was very generous, the veal tongue served along with it was grilled nicely and its texture was astonishingly close to that of a quality cut of steak prepared rare. We are generally of the purist way of thinking when it comes to sweetbreads, meaning little or no sauce is best, sides are welcome, but the sauce charcutière was tremendously satisfying. It is also worth mentioning that the tongue looked like a piece of tongue, no one disguised its true form for pickier eaters; we liked that. The chips were crispy, not oily and an effective way of providing crispy texture to the dish.

Veal Sweetbreads & Grilled Veal Tongue, Sauce Charcutière - 43$

The scallop dish was equally impressive. It was a very forward thinking and fun take on surf & turf in our opinion. The scallops had a perfect hard sear on them and were verging on just barely cooked in the center. They were big, soft, fresh and vaguely tasting of the sea exactly the way we love them. The scallops were  paired with head cheese in croquette form fried crispy, not over breaded.  The brussels sprout and cherry tomato sautée was slightly vinegary providing a great acidic flavor contrast to the smokey paprika foam. Truth be told, after the parmesan foam on our egg and prosciutto appetizer seeing the smoked paprika or pimentón in  foam form initially seemed redundant, but we were wrong. The dish didn't need a lot of smoked paprika, just a very little bit, and a foam was a great way to execute that. You might say: the right tool for the right job.

Seared Scallops, Headcheese Croquette, Smoked Paprika Foam - 43$

The desserts were just as tasty and focused as the rest of the meal. We ordered a cheesecake dish and a lemon meringue tart dish. The cheesecake was dense and not overly sweet, it still tasted faintly of cheese. On top of the cake were vanilla poached pear slices, their texture was ideal, just the right amount of firmness. Next to the cheesecake were buttery soft sablé cookies and a vibrant pear sorbet. The whole dish was lightly scattered with fresh picked thyme leaves and the flavor popped loudly, a great touch. The lemon meringue tart dish was lemon custard in a tender crust, bruléed on the surface and garnished with candied lemon zest. The fluffy, sweet Italian meringue had been smeared across the plate and charred a bit with a torch, it reminded us of roasted marshmallow, a really enjoyable play on something so familiar to everyone. The tart was served along side a few fresh raspberries and a raspberry sorbet. A suitably great ending to a great meal.

Cheesecake, Vanilla Poached Pear, Pear Sorbet & Sablés
Lemon Tartelette, Italian Meringue, Raspberry Sorbet

The overall feel of MAS Cuisine seemed to be that of a very talented chef providing well executed high end dining at an affordable price. The restaurant is in a neighborhood that lies in the shadow of what some consider to be more desirable real-estate. But like many other restauranteurs and chefs have done in other neighborhoods around the city, that is precisely where chef Michel Ross saw an opportunity to offer simple relatable produce with a bit of high end flare to his customers. Our meal truly was flawless, and it came at a value that is really something to talk about. Many thanks to MAS Cuisine for a terrific meal, looking forward to going back.


Restaurant MAS Cuisine
3779 Wellington, near Hickson
Montreal, QC
514-544-3779

Mas Cuisine on Urbanspoon

2 comments:

  1. What a well-written and informative review! Thank you so much! I am going there on Thursday night, and just can't wait!
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  2. An amazing review indeed. I like how they cut that Veal Sweetbreads & Grilled Veal Tongue; excellent craftsmanship in their knifing.

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