Eating fancy doesn't always have to break the bank. Normally, a meal at a swanky Old Montreal restaurant can cost you more than a few pretty pennies. L'Orignal, on the corner of St. Alexis and Notre Dame, recognizes that some of us young folk have a restricted budget and have created Monday Industry Night to let the not-so-swanky still eat some fine dining.
Industry Night works like this: every Monday there is a set menu that features an appetizer and a main course for a total of $25. Given the rest of L'Orignal's menu, this is pretty reasonable, and the chefs don't skimp on quality just because you're ordering the cheap-ish table d'hote. Oh, and you can also get two Mooseheads for $7 and $2.50 shots of Jack Daniels. A solid deal from food to drank.
If you happen to know someone on the L'Orignal staff, Monday also doubles as “Friends and Family Night.” Fortunate friends and loved ones are privy to some other delectable assortments not explicitly shown to regular customers. Needless to say, it is nice to have friends with hook ups.
To get the ball rolling was an onion pakora appetizer served with raita, an Indian yoghurt dip. Industry Night was Indian inspired this evening, and this was the starter of the normal menu. The pakora were perfectly fried with some great crunch, and bogged down by oil. What really stood out was the raita dip, which was spiced up with some smokey spices and a berry-type flavor to add some sweetness. Great for dipping the pakoras and I couldn't resist smearing the raita on some bread once my pakora was consumed.
An endive salad, with green bitters, roasted yellow beets, cherries, and raisins, topped off with a velvety mustard-based dressing came next. I've never had an endive salad before, and this will definitely not be my last. All of the bitter greens were offset with the sweet additions of cherries, beets, and raisins, to create a well balanced salad with a great crunch along with smooth textures.
Out of nowhere, the kitchen shot out some oysters for the table. Yeah, oysters, why not? Fresh, and always fun to slurp down, the oysters were a great mid-meal snack break. You know you're fancy when.
Moving in to savory territory, the next dish was a bison tartar with croustille and duck breast. Bison and duck, two esoteric meats that literally melted in your mouth. The bison tartar I found to be a little too salty, but I did find the chewy texture pretty cool, along with the novelty of eating tartar. On the other end of the plate was the duck, and damn did it ruffle my feathers. A velvety cut of meat that cut like butter and tasted even better. Arguably my favorite part of the meal.
A fish dish was served next: grilled cod with baba ghannouj and tomato salsa served atop homemade pita. Nothing too out of the ordinary here, although everything was still delicious. Fresh cuts of cod paired well with the zesty side sauces. The pita was certainly made in house, as you could taste the quality and the fresh grill marks.
At this point, we were getting kind of full, but one last dish topped off our stomachs nicely. BBQ chicken with saffron rice served with pickled veggies and an eggplant mousse finished the meal on a very high note. BBQ chicken isn't exactly the fanciest of foods, but I found it refreshing that L'Orignal would still serve it as a main dish. It was also awesome. Juicy pieces of breast with a smokey-sweet sauce; L'Orignal can do BBQ. The hidden star of this course was the eggplant mousse. I've never had anything like it. Unlike baba ghannouj, it was incredibly smooth, creamy, and still packed with flavor. Despite it being an accompaniment to the chicken, the eggplant mousse was my favourite part of the dish, and probably the entire meal itself.
Six courses later, and we were all stuffed. And when you can't eat more food, you drink!
I'm still coming to terms with the fancy feast L'Orignal can serve up. Even if you don't have a friend/family member who works at the restaurant, don't pass up the opportunity of Monday Industry Night. Sure you may get a few less courses, but the quality of preparation won't change and you’ll still get a delicious meal. Oh, and did I forget to mention the drink deals? Of course not, I just think its worth mentioning more than twice.