Nestled into the majestic Hotel St-Paul and racking up some serious it-status as one of the hottest supper clubs in the city, Vauvert is quickly becoming the party place extraordinaire of the Old Port. Think of it as the more sophisticated and tamer version of Globe –whose narrow and often over packed confines make being elbowed in the ribs by passing waitresses and simultaneous stilettos stabbing a common occurrence.
Since the food at many of the city’s supper clubs is not exactly meant to be the culinary revelation of the decade per se, Pascal Leblond (chef at renowned Cube a few years ago) and now chef behind Restaurant Vauvert, had us thinking we might be entering into different territory. However, one glance at the black leather-bound menu, and a chorus of sighs of disappointment echoed across the table. One would hope that the restaurant’s avant-garde edginess that reverberates through its black lacquered walls, overlooked by a canopy of twinkling lights would be mirrored in the menu, but sadly it didn’t.
And now, a few memos to you supper club chefs (and Vauvert’s in particular): if you want to set your restaurant apart from the crowd and make your food as fabulous as the party scene – how about you drop the standard tomato buffalo mozzarella appetizer? It’s predictable, it’s boring, and we can put it together at home for under ten bucks. Furthermore, tuna tartar seems to be a popular starter on a lot of menus these days. Every restaurant has its own take on it and the texture and seasoning varies from chef to chef. But as a standard rule, the fleshy mound of gooey goodness needs to be eaten with some sort of crispy bread or cracker. So expecting your customers to eat a pile of raw fish atop a stainless steel fork, shows a lack of finesse. And finally, dear chefs, please make sure you remove your baguettes from the freezer well in advance and to allow proper thawing before serving it to your patrons.
While many items on the menu leave much to be desired, most of the dishes are decent but lack the wow-factor that one would expect from a place of this pedigree. The rest of the starters were equally lacking in innovation. The duck dumplings for instance were extremely dry and under seasoned, and a couple more could have justified such a hefty price tag.
The mains showed a bit more creativity. The angus burger seemed to be the popular choice and was quite tasty. The accompanying shoestring fries were a bit too salty but this was overshadowed by the fact that they were served in fun kitschy Chinese take-out containers. The veal was perfectly cooked and seasoned, but the plating was poorly executed. Served atop a pile of mushy greens in a lazy and half-hazard manner, the bitterness of the vegetables was lost in the brown sauce and everything turned into a lumpy soup of too many flavors and textures; not exactly the finest of veal dishes we’ve come across. The filet mignon seems to have been the star entrée; its buttery texture and fresh flavor were well received.
At this point, we were stuffed with a somewhat underwhelming meal, and were envisioning the numbers tallying up on our bill, so we opted to start the party and turned to bottles of vodka for dessert. If popping bottles of Goose is not your thing – then head over to the bar and order your cocktail of choice, because the drinks are the real stars at this Vieux-Port hot spot. Now, with drink in hand, and some great tunes to dance to, feel free to soak in the devilish charm of this locale’s gothically-enchanting atmosphere. Painted pitch black, but not in a cold, unwelcoming way, the walls at Vauvert are delicately illuminated by twinkling ceiling lights and make you feel as though you’re standing beneath a starry sky. Too bad the food was not as bright a star as the décor.
Bottom-line: Come for the party, not the food. Otherwise, if you enjoy paying an expensive bill for an average meal, then this place is perfect! The crowd: a good mix of everything, but a bit older than the twenty-somethings we usually see at these types of places. Dress-code: we saw outfits that covered the gamut from casual lumberjack-chic to Cher-inspired sequin spandex… so it seems pretty much everything goes. Spotted: famed Argentine-director Santiago Amigorena chatting up the runway-ready models/waitresses.
355 McGill St