Monday, January 8, 2007

Le Tartuffe

Le Tartuffe's Web site claims that diners can expect "a full-fledged experience of French gastronomy in the Outaouais". It is with that impression that May and I stepped in the restaurant at 133, Notre-Dame-de-l'Ile in Gatineau. The garish 80's decor that welcomed us was unexpected. No worries, we were going for the food.

Once seated, May noticed that the tablecloth was stained, which in itself was not a big deal. However, it would be an indicator of things to come.

May ordered a Kir Royal which got a passable grade from her.
The service seemed a bit rushed. Not so much in that dishes were coming too fast from the kitchen, but rather that the waiter seemed overly concerned about making sure he could quickly drop the plates and then return to whatever more interesting he had to do.

May ordered the Seafood velouté, which was a shame. The micro-shrimps were obviously coming from a can and were stringy. The broth had no subtlety. It did not bode well for what would follow.

One thing for restauranteurs to know; you cannot fake fresh bread by re-heating mostly stale one. The bread we were served was crusty-dried as opposed to have a flaky crust and a moist interior.

May's entree was the 'Burgundy snails feuillete, garlic flower cream sauce, tomato concassé and basil oil' (Image on the left) . Nothing much to say about it; was reasonably tasty if a bit on the bland side. Honest dish which looked very nice but was much shorter on taste.

I had the "Double cream Canadian brie cheese in a filo pastry crusted with carvi seeds, served on a cranberry coulis". Well, this was not a match made in heaven; as you can see on the picture, the filo was swimming in a pool of cranberry sauce which completely overpowered the brie. The tastes just did not mesh and I could not fathom how the chef could think the combination judicious. I could see that, in moderation, the cranberry's tartness would provide an interesting twist to the mild cheese, but here, there seemed that have been no consideration to the taste layering at all.

For the main course, I had the "Roasted rack of lamb, crusted with Dijon mustard and fresh herb breadcrumbs, mustard and garlic sauce" (left). May had the "Grilled Alberta ¨AAA¨ beef filet, with Le Rassembleu blue cheese from Sainte-Sophie, Port sauce".
Let's talk about the steak first. With the quality of chefs coming out of culinary schools these days, it is unacceptable to get a steak cooked to medium when medium-rare was requested. Well, to be fair, it could have been the waiter's fault in not bringing it to the table sooner. Who knows? Anyway... not too happy about that. The port reduction was nice however.
My lamb was OK. Again, nothing that one could not get at your generic neigbourhood steak place. By the way, notice that the side veggies are the same for both dishes?

We finished with an almond cheese cake which turned out to be the best part of the meal; the berries coulis nicely complemented the almond flavour and we both enjoyed it.

So, all and all, this had not been a nice experience and we drove back to Ottawa frustrated to have wasted an evening on sub-par food. Mind you, Le Tartuffe is not very expensive. Our three courses were $36 for mine and $39 for May's.

I wish that Le Tartuffe would charge a bit more and truly deliver a gastronomical experience as they claim. Or charge less, and get rid of the pretentious qualificatives.

P.S. And what it is with the music? We were served an atrocious mixture of the worst that Musak has to offer. That was the last offence to an already disappointing evening.

Despite the low prices, we will not go back to Le Tartuffe...

Table d'Hote from $31 to $39 which includes soup, entrees and main course.
Web Site: http://www.letartuffe.com/

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