The Europea has historically been one of my favorite fancy food restaurants in Montreal – it is so seldom that I’m disappointed with either the food or the service.
This said – in recent visits, things have changed. The maitre-d – who had always greeted us by name – is no longer there, and the service, while always upscale and efficient, has become clearly more ‘important’ guest oriented. It’s hard not to notice, for example, that Jerome came up stairs – greeted the groups at 4 of the tables on either side of us – and ignored us completely. I’m not that proud that I need to be greeted – but it does hurt when clearly other people at other tables rate – and you don’t. Bad boy there Jerome.
But a fancy restaurant has to be about the food – and last night (Feb 23, 2013) the Europea offered a set meal by a very famous guest chef from Argentina, Francis Mallmann. Typical of what we’d expect at Europea – every course used unique tableware, and the presentations were interesting. Unfortunately – there were no outstanding courses – and several of the offerings were pedestrian at best. At the price point – this is unacceptable. Is it too much to expect that at least one of the courses be ‘blow-you-away’ quality?
Particularly disappointing was the way they handled my allergy to goat cheese. Generally, in a restaurant of this caliber, and a chef of Mr. Mallmann’s reputation, I’d have expected that the course in question be modified so that I could enjoy it. But all they did was leave off the goat cheese. No added salt, no bit of yogurt – nothing. Clearly the chef wasn’t in the kitchen at that moment, or his sous-chefs had been instructed to not change the courses. I wouldn’t mind if my meal cost $25 – but at ten times that price – hey – add a bit of yogurt or sour cream to off-set the sweetness of the squash puree!
I think that the folks at Europea knew that Mallmann hadn’t really delivered – because when we were leaving – the maitre d asked how we enjoyed our meal. When I commented on the fact that several of the courses were disappointing – he said – “Have you eaten here before?” When I replied in the affirmative – he said – “Well, then you know our normal quality”. Enough said.
Too late to get our money back – but there’s a lesson learned. Older celebrated chefs may be just floating along on their reputations – if you want great food – look for younger chefs with something to prove.
Well done .i enjoy reading both sides of your situation. Fair and balanced
Hi Leslie, Lovely to meet you at Sarah’s. Greatly enjoying reading your posts. This one in particular is a good wake up call for Europea and restos of their ilk, I hope they see it! Indeed my meal there with Jerome in charge was magnificent, but this sounds like a huge disappointment – hope they learn from this. Please keep in touch! My articles are here: http://www.forgetthebox.net/author/joshua-davidson/ and my poor neglected blog is here: http://mealscape.wordpress.com
8/2014 – Thanks for reminding me of this review. We went back to Europea after much hemming and hawing the other night – and it was magnificent again. Worth every penny! I think that they must have gone thru a terrible shake-down period after the former front of the house manager left – and it was great to see that they had their game back on track. Food – amazing, Service – so special. Delightful. Guess that means I’d better do another review, eh? Leslie
PS: It was nice meeting you too Josh.