The two of us have a personal fondness for this restaurant because it's the place where we shared our first date, and now we would like to share it with our readers. We rarely visit in the winter time, always opting for heavy meals and stick-to-your-ribs meaty cooking, but as soon as the weather gets nice and the terrasses open all over the city, the first place that comes to our minds is La Moulerie. The restaurant is on Bernard street just west of Parc amongst plenty of boutiques, bistros and reasonably heavy pedestrian traffic. For whatever the reason, when we sit out on the terrasse here it just feels so much like what we imagine might be the picturesque dream that tourists have in their mind when they come to Montreal searching for that little piece of Europe in North America. Sitting on the terrasse at La Moulerie with a pint of Stella waiting for a steaming pot of mussels helps us to slow down and see what we so often overlook being locals.
Most people must know what it's like to have a particular order that they repeat whenever returning to a given restaurant. Sometimes you find something you love on a menu, and when that craving occurs you know where to go. "The order" has been decided before you enter the door and when the waiter arrives you let them know that you won't be needing a menu this evening - you're on a mission and you plan to see it though. For us one of these places is La Moulerie, and "the order" is as follows.
We begin with soups, the clam chowder, and the fish soup served with "rouille". The clam chowder is done in a traditional New England style with lots of rich cream and butter, packed full of large pieces of super sweet sliced clam meat and a large dice of potato. The soup is served in a bowl filled to the rim and it's everything you expect when you order a clam chowder. The fish soup or "soupe de poisson" is a rich tomato based soup fortified with plentiful fish flavor and served with "rouille". Rouille is as much a procedure as it is an accompaniment. Croutons, grated swiss cheese (usually Gruyere - in this case Jarlsberg) and a red pepper aioli with a little heat from piment d'espelette are served along side the soup. You take the crouton, spread some aioli on it, sprinkle it with cheese and float the garnished crouton in your soup. The result is a very tasty and satisfying bite. Although this fish soup is certainly very similar to one and served in the style of a bouillabaise, they choose not to officially label it as such on the menu. Many restaurants choose to take quite a bit of creative-license in the use of classic names for dishes that sometimes hold the definition rather loosely. At La Moulerie, it seems they choose not to break from tradition and they call a spade a spade, a bouillabaise a bouillabaise and a fish soup a fish soup - we call it delicious.
Clam Chowder - 11$
Fish Soup & Rouille - 12$
Although there are other choices on the menu the specialty here is mussels, hence the name "La Moulerie". They offer over 20 varieties of mussels in different broths and sauces but our hands-down favorite is the Madagascar. We both order the same kind because we're always fearful making another choice could never be as good as the latter. Madagascar is a terrific broth with cream, cognac and green peppercorns, the menu indicates that it's a spicy choice but we don't find it is. The mussels arrive plump, hot and perfectly cooked in a stainless steel bucket with your choice of sides. Choices are a simply dressed bib-lettuce salad or properly made french fries, or both for an additional 5$. To be honest we find the additional 5$ to be slightly expensive for either one of these sides but we cannot fault their flavor. We always end up shelling out the extra couple of bucks to have both and effectively choose not to have to choose between two good things.
Madagascar Mussels with 1 side - 23$
We have been visiting La Moulerie for many years now, most of the time ordering this same meal, with the exception of during Quebec lobster and shrimping seasons when the restaurant offers great specialty menu items at good prices. We can say that in a business where you're always only as good as your last meal consistency is king and consistency is one thing that we can objectively say La Moulerie has. The terrasse is beautiful the food is always good and the beer is always cold, a winning combination that has kept the two of us coming back and will keep us coming back for many more years to come. And hey, don't forget, when the meal is done and the night is still warm, you're only a block away from Le Bilboquet - the best ice cream shop in town and we don't think anyone will disagree with that one.
1249 Avenue Bernard O