I know quite a few people who were more than a little disappointed to see Jolifou restaurant close a few months ago. Those same people will be happy to know that chef David Ferguson is now at the helm of a brand new, 28-seat restaurant on Beaubien street east, in the Petite Patrie neighbourhood of Montreal. Gus Restaurant opened its doors a couple of weeks ago only. The decor is not finalized yet, neither is the beer list which aims to carry at least 15 Canadian and imported beers but for such a young restaurant, the cuisine is already enticing. I visited a few days ago with my friend and fellow blogger Katerine. We sat at the bar on a quiet Tuesday night and chatted with the chef who seemed happy to be embarking on this new adventure.
The restaurant is small and cozy with a long bar along one side of it from which you can watch the kitchen team in action. The menu is displayed on a long blackboard above the bar. At first glance, the menu seems like typical French bistro fare and includes onion soup, mussels, duck magret and grilled bavette. Everything, however, gets the chef Ferguson treatment and an addition of extra zing in the form of chimichurri, poblano, ancho chiles or other favourite ingredients.The Jolifou hot sauces – one of the chef’s specialty – have happily made the move to Gus. The “stupid hot” sauce (habaneros and white grapes), carrot and scotch bonnet one as well as the marinated and stuffed chiles are a great accompaniment to all the dishes on the menu. A word of caution though, a little goes a long way!
At the advice of the chef, Katerine and I shared the Caesar salad, which is prepared à la minute every time a customer orders one. Chef Ferguson wanted to add it to the menu because as a reminder of his first job at a steakhouse in Ontario at the tender age of 16. He was responsible for preparing the Caesar salad table side, a method which he now perfects since this salad is far from ordinary. The dressing is made with the freshest ingredients crushed and mixed directly in the salad bowl to season the bowl. The traditional bacon is replaced by big, chewy chunks of sautéed pancetta and the tabasco in the dressing is replaced by marinated sliced chiles. The salad is fresh, crunchy and zesty and one of the best Caesar salads I’ve had.
We went on to share the roasted pork belly appetizer. The melt-in-your-mouth sliced belly is cooked to perfection and served in a cast iron skillet on a bed of roasted tomatillos, tomatoes, pancetta and snails. An earthy, rich and delicious dish, that is perfect on a cold winter night. The duck magret main is just as delicious with thinly sliced slivers of pink seared duck arranged across a mix of roasted corn, king oyster mushrooms and sage and topped with ancho oil.
The chocolate and lemon freshly-baked tarts were sitting on the counter when we walked in. They had just been baked and laid to cool until service started. The smell was irresistible throughout the meal so we ended our dinner with a slice of each. The tart and sweet lemon slice got an added crunch when the chef “brûléed” its top right before serving it to us. The chocolate tart, based on an old Joël Robuchon recipe, was luscious, smooth and rich yet not overwhelmingly so. Simple but great, fresh desserts. The chef is planning on adding more desserts as well as changing the menu based on product availabilities.
38 Beaubien East
514 722 2175