I had the pleasure of eating at Chez Alexandre et fils as their foodie guest. You may not know Chez Alexandre by name, but if you consider yourself a real Montrealer, then you’ve definitely passed by this iconic restaurant on Peel, which normally boasts a large wooden terrasse during Grand Prix weekend. Officially a bistro français, you’ll find a bit of everything Chez Alexandre, from French classics like moules et frites and foie gras, to burgers and brunch dishes on the weekend. With its kitchen open till 2am every night, Chez Alexandre is the perfect place for a late night snack after a night out, as well as business dinners, romantic dates and large groups. Oh, and did we mention they have an impressive champagne selection too?
Restaurant: Chez Alexandre et fils
Date: Sunday January 28th 2018
Table for: 2
Since I do consider myself a true Montrealer, I can proudly say that I’d passed by Chez Alexandre countless times, especially back in the days when I was studying at McGill. I was always intrigued by this restaurant, with its bright red façade and large circular lamps hanging on the outside. When you first walk in, there’s a lot to take in. First off, there’s the very French café style section, right by the windows and facing Peel. Then, there’s an enormous Champagne Bar area, with its purple backlights. And finally, the vast dining room with its beautiful paintings and many banquettes.
Because it was a cold Sunday night, the place was quite empty, except for a few business people and couples. We were told however that the place can be quite the party on Friday and Saturday evenings, especially later at night and during warmer months. As we are seated, we are served some olives, crostinis and olive oil to snack on.
We begin by sitting down with the man himself: Monsieur Alain Creton, who has now owned Chez Alexandre et fils for more than 40 years! His story is very interesting and inspiring; I’m sure he’d be a fantastic speaker in restaurant conferences and trade shows. He starts with his story and how he gained experience from some of the top nightclubs and restaurants in Paris and Cannes and then how he and his brother packed their bags and moved to Montreal. Here, he worked at another restaurant before deciding to open Chez Alexandre with his brother; back then, it was a steakhouse. After some time, they turned it into what they really wanted it to be: a French brasserie, which it still is. I ask him why is the restaurant named “Chez Alexandre”? Who is Alexandre? (Since its clearly not him). He answers you (the clients) are Alexandre. When he travels, he stays in the top hotels and resorts in order to learn from the best and take back some of his learnings to apply them to Chez Alexandre. He stresses the importance of always being in action, not staying static and always needing to surprise people; that’s the secret to his success and long-time history of Chez Alexandre. When you think about it, how many restaurants do you know that have been in operation for more than 40 years? He ends his story by telling us that when people choose Chez Alexandre, they come for the good food, the excellent service from the waiters and the smile of the waitresses and the “bon vivant” of the owner.
While we enjoy Alain’s company, we of course enjoy some great food and wine. For my entrée, I chose the French onion soup, which was very good. The broth was excellent, very rich and flavourful, the soup was very cheesy and the onions were thinly sliced. I did however find there to be a bit too much bread croutons, to my personal liking.
Alex on the other hand opts for the bone marrow, which was divine. It was the first time I ever ate bone marrow and it was delicious and decadent; I loved it. I found it to be very smooth, creamy and rich and it went well on its own or with some grilled baguette.
Because Chez Alexandre is a French brasserie after all, Alain insists that we try the foie gras as well. This was also my first time eating real foie gras (as opposed to duck foie gras). Although they are similar in taste and texture, real foie gras is smoother in taste and much less “gamey” and earthy. Alain explains to us that you either eat it on its own or with a bit of chutney and a bite of pain d’épice.
For the main meal, I chose the homard en gratin, which is not to be confused with homard au gratin. The difference is that au gratin means with melted cheese on top and en gratin meals that the lobster was cooked in boiling water, then covered in a lobster bisque with a roue de beurre and then baked in the oven. Nonetheless, it was a delicious and rich dish which I very much enjoyed. It was also served with a buttery and creamy mashed potato, which was excellent with lobster bisque smothered all over it.
Alex chose one of Chez Alexandre’s specialties, the bajoue de boeuf (beef cheeks). They were excellent, very tender and they fell apart with your fork. The meat was very well seasoned and I really liked the spices used. They were served with a celeriac purée, sautéed spinach and a sauce which were very good too.
I chose to accompany my meal with a glass of Léon Boyer Pinot gris, which was excellent and Alex chose a glass of Chardonnay.
To end things on a sweet note, Alain ordered for us his two most popular desserts; the fondant au chocolat and the crème brûlée. The crème brûlée was very good; the inside was creamy, sweet and lemony, with a nice crunchy top. However, I would have preferred the cream to be a bit thicker. Nonetheless, the crème brûlée was delicious.
As for the fondant au chocolat, it was one of the best I’ve ever had. Everything about it was perfect; the chocolatey taste, the firm outside of the cake and the smooth and creamy overflowing inside. It was served with a delicious raspberry sorbet, which nicely cuts the heaviness of the fondant.
After all this, we were also served les meringues Alexandre, which every customer is given at the end of their meal.
Overall, we had an excellent meal at Chez Alexandre. Everything we ate was prepared with a lot of attention and was delicious. I especially like the bone marrow, the lobster, the beef cheeks and the fondant au chocolat, which I highly recommend. Chez Alexandre offers a vast selection of dishes, all prepared with the utmost quality, but in an unpretentious, laid-back vibe. Chez Alexandre is the perfectly place to enjoy French classics, as well as a variety of meat and fish dishes, with friends, family and colleagues alike.
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*This restaurant post does not contain my usual restaurant review criteria of restaurants, as this is a sponsored post where I was invited to the restaurant as a guest.
*All photos are mine