Mlle. She Travels' Restaurant Review: Montée Revisted
To celebrate my return to the city after a two-and-a-half-year absence due to the COVID pandemic, I had an 8:30 PM reservation at Montée.
The dining room is small, with 4-5 tables in the main front dining room, then a second, private dining room with a larger table. The whole restaurant could seat about twenty-four people, which makes it feel very intimate. I sat at a table I had not sat at before, and had a splendid view of the entire restaurant, which makes for excellent people watching during dinner.
The chef at Montée, Takayuki Nameura, opened the first iteration of Montée in Kobe in 2006. He then moved to France and opened the current version of Montée in 2016 in Paris’ 14th Arrondissement, with his wife running the front of the house. I first visited in April 2017 after reading a stellar review by John Talbott, and loved the experience so much, I came back in July 2018. On arrival, I was greeted like an old friend returning, and I was incredibly happy to be back. Also, throughout the evening, the chef would come out and talk with each of the tables. It is indicative of the love and care that permeates every facet of this restaurant
For dinner, there is a set tasting menu with ten courses (seven savory and three dessert) for €105 with an optional cheese course for an additional €8. They do not offer a wine pairing with the menu but have wines by the glass and bottle. For my dinner, as it was a celebration, I went with the Taittinger Champagne to accompany my meal.
The first course was the amuse-bouche. This consisted of two different tastes. The first was a rice crisp that was covered in yeast that made the whole thing taste like a lovely, cheesy crisp. The second was familiar, it was the layered eggplant. As it has been before, this is visually interesting, with noticeably clear layers, and a nice eggplant flavor with a hint of smoke that was exactly right.
Second course was tomato sorbet with the corn crème brûlée. This is one of their signature courses, and as it was the last time I had it, it was excellent. I really enjoy the contrast of the fresh and cool texture of the tomato sorbet with the sweet corn crème brûlée.
After this course, the bread and butter, which is a staple on any French table was brought out. It probably violates all table etiquette, but I will totally take my bread and soak up the sauce. I definitely did that for both the sixth and seventh courses.
The third course was a green pea velouté with bulots, caviar, and seaweed. While I love bulots, I am not a fan of caviar, so this was my least favorite course of the savories. Even though it was my least favorite, it was still very well done. I appreciated the blend of the various flavors and textures, especially as my bulot eating experience is digging them out of the shell and dipping them in mayonnaise.
The fourth course was the Montée classic foie gras topped with banana with tapioca smoke. I absolutely adore this course. Every time I eat this, it is a revelation that banana and foie gras pair so well together. This with the champagne was an absolute winner.
The fifth course was squid served with coconut and bulgur. This was remarkably similar to a dish I had on my very first visit to Montée back in 2017 but was much more sophisticated. I loved that the dish was monochromatic but had a balanced blend of various flavors and textures.
The sixth course was John Dory with yuzu, potato, and wood sorrel. John Dory is one of my favorite fish. It is a saltwater fish that is found off the coasts of Europe with firm, white flesh with a mild, sweet flavor that is low in fat. It is rare to see John Dory in the US, though it can be imported. The yuzu, which was used as a part of the sauce, complimented the fish but did not overpower it. I loved this dish, and similarly to the foie gras dish, this paired amazingly well with the champagne. Bread was definitely used to soak up all the sauce.
The seventh and final savory course was lamb, which was served with artichoke, edamame, and asparagus in a sauce flavored with the au jus from the lamb and anchovies. I am usually not an anchovy fan, but the addition of the anchovies to the au jus just added a briny pop that was incredibly complimentary to the dish. As with the sixth course, I used the last of my bread to soak up the last but of the sauce.
I of course ordered the cheese course which was a 2018 Comte. I was still drinking champagne, but I ordered a glass of 1996 Sauternes to go with it. The cheese came with dried figs and a few slices of baguette.
The eighth course, and the first dessert course, was a deconstructed rhubarb and strawberry tart. Strawberry and rhubarb pie is a favorite of mine as it is not overly sweet, so I loved everything about this dessert.
The ninth course was a decadent dish of chocolate, mint, and thyme. There were a lot of various textures and chocolate flavors in this, with hints of mint and thyme. The mint and thyme were complimentary and not overwhelming.
The tenth and final course meant to emulate caramel popcorn. It was a tasty and fun end to another fantastic dinner at Montée.