Upon entering the newly renovated Restaurant L’Orignal, one is immediately confronted with a pleasing paradox. The comforting ambiance, with light wood paneling and various cottage-worthy knickknacks adorning the walls of the now much more open space, elicits an immediate sense of casual comfort. As soon as you come into contact with L’Orignal’s friendly and hyper-competent staff, however, you immediately realize that comfort does not necessarily have to come at the expense of fine dining.
The paradox continues at the bar. L’Orignal’s exclusive house beer is an immensely satisfying blonde that is crisp enough to be refreshing in the spring and summer yet full bodied enough to warm the soul during Montreal’s colder months. The contentment brought on by sampling the house brew is counterbalanced brilliantly by the provision of freshly shucked oysters from Ile de la Madelaine and crisp Prosecco imported privately from northern Italy.
The merger of high class and classic Canadian comfort continues on the revamped menu curated by classically trained Chef Omar Zabuair, who counts Joe Beef among his past employers. Classic Canadian staples seamlessly blend with elements of haut cuisine throughout the menu. Appetizers offered include a creamed corn soufflé garnished with deliciously marinated chanterelles as well as a classic baked potato accompanied by potted lobster, smoked trout, muscles escabeche and unexpectedly tasty hot oysters. L’Orignal’s hybrid approach truly shines though as an aesthetically and culinarily pleasing dish of fried ricotta and electric green spinach butter is complemented beautifully by the subtle yet exquisite flavor of the bison, bone marrow pilaf and kohirabi curry entrée. The yin-yang theme is once again executed to perfection for desert as the blueberry bread with Sirop St. Leon and the maple syrup toffee sponge simultaneously provoke feelings of a family bakery and a world-class patisserie.
Attempting to merge two stylistic extremes can sometimes lead to perilous results. Not so for the good people at L’Orignal, however, as owners Monika Terlecki, Michael Terlecki and Travis Champion have deftly managed to create a high scale dining experience where one can also feel right at home.
Photos courtesy of L’Orignal.