I had been looking forward to this particular opening for the past few months. This past summer while doing a demo at the Omnivore festival in Montreal, chef Aaron Langille announced that he would be opening a new restaurant in Chinatown soon. Chef Langille’s previous gig had him manning the stove in the tiny kitchen of Café Sardine where he was responsible for making the handful of people that the small café could seat every night very happy. I unfortunately only ate there once, on his very last night there* but it was enough to blow me away and leave me wanting more.
Orange Rouge finally opened its doors a few weeks ago and I rushed there as soon as I came back from my South African adventure. Located right in the heart of Montreal’s Chinatwon, the orange and red building that inspired the restaurant’s name is immediately identifiable. Inside is a first dining room with a long U-shaped bar running down one side of it with a great view of the open kitchen. The second dining room in the back is smaller with a single table that seats 12 people, perfect for private parties. The decor is simple, sober, with dark walls, dark woods and a few intricate mouldings rounding everything up.
“A sense of time and place” is a palpable philosophy at Orange Rouge. Although I will miss the kind of food that chef Langille was cooking at Café Sardine, this menu is nothing like that (but just as delicious). Printed on a folded sheet of paper – a reference to the take-out menus of the neighbourhood – the dishes are inspired by Chinatown. If you are a stickler for authenticity, then you may have a slight problem eating there. On the other hand, if you are a Chinese, or rather, an Asian food aficionado, then this will quickly become one of your favourite hangouts. Chef Langille takes liberties in interpreting Asian dishes (not just Chinese but Japanese, Thai and others too) and the result is often a combination of familiar flavours with a surprising twist. There has been a rumour circulating that Orange Rouge is inspired by celebrity chef Danny Bowien’s Mission Chinese and although the rumours are just that, I can see the similarities having been to the New York restaurant.
On the menu you will find a short list of interesting dishes as well as a good selection of wines, beers, teas and kombuchas. I’ve tasted quite a few dishes on the ever changing menu and I can tell you that the ramen soup’s rich broth and toothy noodles was comforting and just perfect on a cold afternoon. The duck with peanuts is a simple dish yet the meat is cooked to perfection and the marinated vegetables provide the dish with the acidic note it needs to sing. The calamari and zucchini stir fry is delicately sweet and delicious. The orange ice cream is so simple yet rich and fruity. But you shouldn’t take my word for it, you should go and try it for yourself!
* Note that Café Sardine still operates as a café during the day and the Japanese izakaya Iwashi at night.
106 de la Gauchetière West
514 861 1116
Tuesday to Friday: 11:30am – 3pm
Saturday: 10:30am – 3pm