Thursday, 5 October 2017

Mon Ami Louis

Quantity over quality, I feel.
I don't usually want to start off a review comparing a restaurant with 'how it used to be' because that'a not terribly useful since both you and I, dear solo diners, have yet to master the art and science of time travel. Unfortunately, that is all that I could think during my recent foray to Mon Ami Louis. I last visited a couple years ago and really missed the duck-fat fried fries, savoury crepes, and all the things that kind of made it chic and French. As it is now, I found the sharing plates on the menu sounded pretty uninteresting. While I appreciated that there was both a large and small options for charcuterie, the impressiveness was a resounding 'meh.' My super cool server asked which was my favourite bit and I honestly couldn't tell him, it was all so unremarkable. Probably just the strawberries, which were a garnish. I think. I found the inclusion of strawberries as a compliment to the charcuterie to be weird. Is that weird? I thought that it was.

Mmmm... Caribou...
The cocktail menu has some local culture infused into it (Festival-famous Caribou and maple ingredients as well as two drinks named after our provincial founder) as well as some inventive sangria options although none of the ones I tried really stood out as excellent. There were some local beers available, but I thought I'd get a glass of wine since I'm not super into beer. The menu didn't state what the South African blend was a blend of, so I asked. The server said he'd check and then some strange bloke in a suit (the owner? He was shuffling around kind of poking at everything when I came in, so I assume he was doing some kind of supervision) came to talk to me about what was in it. Except that he didn't know either and I didn't understand why no one thought to just check the bottle or box or whatever. It felt like entirely too much of a production to find out what this wine was made out of. Strange Suit Guy finally brought me the bottle so that I could read it and find out what the blend was myself which, again, really seemed unnecessary. I finally read it off the label in a fairly easy way that probably didn't require three people to do and yes, after all that, I have forgotten what grape varietals were in the bottle. The experience of getting it was so much more memorable than the wine itself, so I figure it wasn't great.

Wish I was sitting at the bar
Unlike the cocktail menu, the menu menu doesn't feature a lot of local flavour; there is one appetizer with pickerel and the rest of the entrees are chicken, tuna, and something with lobster that I passed on. I figured I had to base my review on more than an unremarkable charcuterie and a South African mystery wine, so I ordered a 'traditional' tarte flambée, which it turns out is just a pizza. Why can't we all just call a pizza a pizza? Is this some kind of contemporary restaurant taboo? Speaking of taboo, is there something wrong with putting salt and pepper shakers on the table? It seems that whenever I need some, it's never there, and Mon Ami Louis followed the rule accordingly.

The glare from the lighting
prevents me from showing you the
best part of the restaurant.
I can't say I really recommend this one for solo dining. While the view was amazing, this is the first establishment I've been to that gave me a garbage seat (awkward corner by the washrooms; it was so bad that the hostess apologized even before bringing me there) potentially because I was alone; the place wasn't hopping so I couldn't really see any justification for hiding me out of the way like that. I only hope that they don't make 'real' patrons sit there. Also, the wi-fi they've got is not for patron use, so you may need to bring a book or something while you wait for your food. Clearly, the ambiance for me wasn't stellar, but in general, they have retained the neon red lights from when it used to be a Sals, so there's this weird kind of diner feel layered on top of the chic French-ness that they are trying to go for.

Now, while I didn't have a great experience, one thing that was great was my server. What I've noticed since starting this venture is that even the most mediocre restaurant can have the most amazing staff; I have yet to go to a place with terrible service. Even places that I have found truly awful in terms of menu, et cetera, have the friendliest and most competent staff. I'm not sure if this is because we live in Friendly Manitoba, because the post-recession job market makes serving super competitive, or if it's just that my wait staff feels sorry for my because I'm sitting all by myself, but I appreciate having a rapport with the person serving me. It reinforces that dating yourself is not as lonely as people assume.

Price: $$
Rating: *

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