Only opened since early December, brand new restaurant Sinclair at the swanky Hotel Saint Sulpice, feels like a restaurant still trying to figure itself out. With a renowned local chef at the helm, and a glamorous, modern decor, this restaurant definitely has a lot of yet to be fulfilled potential.
Sinclair’s executive chef, Stelio Perombelon, has quite an impressive resume which includes some of the finest French restaurants in the city (Toque, after-nine fave Lemeac, and the sadly defunct Les Chevres to name but a few), so we had some fairly high expectations for their late night menu.
Sinclair offers an after-10 menu where $22 (note that a couple of the dishes come with a supplemental charge) gets you any two dishes of your choice from a selection of 3 vegetable dishes, 3 seafood dishes and 3 meat dishes. The menu, we are told, will change seasonally and has already changed a bit since our visit a short while ago.
In terms of decor, Sinclair is an absolutely stunning restaurant. The design could best be described as a fusion of modern and gothic, with lots of dark colors accented with rich reds and golds. Nice touches like ceramic cutlery holders, an open kitchen and an ornate granite bar, make this a chic, luxurious place to eat and drink.
Unfortunately, upon arriving at 10pm on a Saturday we found one other table in the restaurant occupied, which did nothing to help the atmosphere. We walked by on a more recent weekend however and saw the restaurant was still buzzing at 10:45 so maybe word is starting to spread about Sinclair’s late-night table d’hote menu.
This being one of the first nights after the late night menu’s inception, the waitress forgot to give it to our table, so make sure to ask for it. Otherwise, the service was polite but quite slow and inattentive despite the fact the restaurant was nearly empty. We waited at least thirty minutes just to get our drinks and our waitress would disappear for long stretches whenever we needed something.
Atkins be damned, we love bread, and Sinclair’s is absolutely wonderful. There’s nothing more disappointing to us than a restaurant that considers its bread an afterthought and brings cold, slightly stale bread to the table. Sinclair does bread right, making homemade breads daily and on this night offering both a brioche and walnut bread. The brioche was perfectly rich and fluffy, and the walnut bread had a remarkably crispy crust, with a chewy, nutty center.
Because it’s hard to resist any dish with foie gras, we ordered the ice-wine marinated leeks with brioche and foie gras snow, despite the fact that it cost $4 extra. What the f is foie gras snow you ask? More than just the most delicious type of precipitation imaginable, it’s also a clever way of saying you’re not getting very much foie gras. The plate consisted of several pieces of leek with a thin brioche crisp atop each, served on a bland pesto, the dish lacked depth of flavour. The taste of the foie gras and ice wine failed to come through and the dish basically just tasted like leeks with crackers on top. Definitely not a dish worth an extra $4!
When the venison tartare arrived at the table we automatically assumed the bright yellow sphere atop it was your typical egg yolk tartare topping. The first bite was quite a shock to our taste buds, as this was no egg yolk but mango puree instead. The sweet mango paired well with the saltiness of the tartare and we loved the way this tartare played with your expectations of a dish you’ve probably had way too many times to count. The only real problem with this dish (like pretty much all of the dishes on the after 10 menu) was the portion size. The tartare was quite small and came with nothing alongside it.
The pan-seared salmon (which has recently been changed to its less attractive cousin the Ontario trout), was perfectly cooked and paired with a well-seasoned mushroom coulis. The light, fresh taste of the salmon worked very well with the richer creaminess of the mushrooms. Again, this dish has the quality that we yearn for, but the portion size was more tapas-style than that of a main dish.
We were still quite hungry after our two courses, so we decided to try a couple desserts. The candy capped profiteroles, with pear caramel and bacon powder (aka bacon snow, aka bacon fairy dust) were a wonderful balance of contrasting flavours and textures. The sweetness of the pear playing off the salty bacon, the hot caramel opposite the cold ice cream, and the flakiness of the choux pastry aside the creaminess of the ice cream all came together in one tasty dessert.
The vanilla poached Bartlett pear was another tasty treat that helped cap off the meal. Once again, the plate was well-presented with the sweet pear alongside cubes of fluffy olive oil cake and rich white chocolate spread. Suffice to say, it’s worth it to order the desserts. And you’ll definitely have room for them.
Our experience at Sinclair was what you might expect from a restaurant that’s so new. The service needed extra polish, the menu has a few kinks to work out and the place had yet to generate any buzz making it feel a bit lifeless. The portion sizes are also very small so don’t expect to get a full meal for $22. Even with dessert (which cost an extra $7) we were still hungry when we left. Maybe we’re just pigs, but we feel with portion sizes this small, there are better late night values to be found elsewhere in Montreal. That being said, there is certainly a lot of potential for this restaurant considering the beautiful space and the capable chef running the show. And they make homemade bread so how bad could it be?
- Homemade bread
- Modern, glamorous decor
- Beautiful plating
- Delicious desserts
- Did we mention the homemade bread?
- Had to ask for after 10 menu
- Kate Moss portion sizes
- Service could use some polish
- Foie gras snow translated into English means ‘very little foie gras’
How much you save by eating after nine: Between $5 and $10 per plate. Some items on the late night menu are not offered on the regular dinner menu.
Where to grab a drink after: The slick and increasingly popular Philemon bar on St-Paul. Good-lookin crowds, live DJs and your basic offering of alcoholic bevs.