Now that the Montreal en Lumiere festival is in full swing, I had the opportunity to check out one of the week’s finest tables featured in the gastronomy program. Restaurant Christophe – headed by owner and Executive Chef Christophe Geffray is located in Outremont in the midst of local boutiques, cafés and charming quadruplex brownstones. In keeping with the theme of this year’s events, Chef Geffray and team was orchestrating a gastronomic tour of Argentinean cuisine without leaving your seat or snowy and blistery Montreal.
The “Beefin’ it up at Christophe” menu was a four course tasting menu which highlighted the preparation of some of Argentina’s finest restaurants while putting his on signature touches on the dishes.
The first course was a citrus zest glazed lamb chop served on a fondue of fennel. The lamb chop was barely two bites and if it weren’t for the fact that we were surrounded by people who looked like our grandparents, on any other occasion I wouldn’t have hesitated to picked that sucker up and peel what was left of the chop off the bone with my teeth; but I digress, my manners got the best of me. The lamb was tender, it’s natural aroma was highlighted by the almost floral bouquet of the citrus zest and fennel and glazing liquid. A nice start and precursor to the meal that was ahead of us.
The second course was tapas of seared beef cheeks on pan roasted potatoes, topped with a creamy brebis sheep’s cheese, served with criolla salsa and arugula salad. The beef was deep in flavour; heavy in cumin, the overt spice brought out the natural robust sweetness of the beef. The rich cheese balanced nicely against the beef and was cut with the sharp vinaigrette of the salsa and bitterness of the greens. A well composed dish that really had every element banking on each other to bring everything together to shine. The potato didn’t play much in this dish more than it was a vessel for the beef and for the familiarity of the classic combination of meat and potatoes.
Our main course was a filet mignon à la parrilla, with a side of chimichirri, roasted vegetables and a slice of flan de papas. The potato side was Chef Geffray’s “Argentinean” spin on a Gratin dauphinois – impossibly thin layers upon layers of potatoes rich in butter, and cheese – the spin? The name.
I said this three chews into the first bite, this filet was the best one I’ve had in a very long time. The meat was tender and borderline buttery. Supple and warm, the perfect medium-rare was prepared with precision à la parrilla (Argentinean BBQ), seasoned with just salt and fresh cracked pepper, Chef Geffray honoured this cut by letting it speak for itself. The tang of citrus and fragrance from cilantro complimented and elevated the full-bodied natural flavour of the beef.
For the dessert course; we were treated to a Chèvre and sweet potato cheesecake with dulce de leche ice cream. The cheesecake was firm but what stood out the most was the gentle sweetness – as though the dessert was purely sweetened by the natural sugars of the starchy camote. As dense as the cheesecake was in flavour and texture, the lack of apparent sugar left each bite surprisingly refreshing.
I’d like to thank Chef Geffray and staff for a wonderful evening and setting the pace for a great Montreal en Lumiere event. For more info check out the Montreal en Lumiere page, there are still reservations available. Groups of six or more have the option of booking one of the three private dining rooms at no extra cost. Don’t forget to bring your own wine!
1187 Ave Van Horne
Montréal, QC H2V1K1