Since the talented chef Alexandre Gosselin joined the team at Chez Victoire, I’d noticed that many of my friends were hanging out at this bustling bistro on a regular basis. That girlfriend seal of approval had me heading back to the bistro last Saturday evening for a tête-à-tête dinner with my guy. Sindie Goineau, the sommelière and co-owner, took care of us from the moment we were seated until we left, hours later, well-fed and well-wined. I can definitely say that this bistro has reached a whole new level by adding Alex’s fine cuisine to its welcoming, laid-back atmosphere.

The menu is chock-full of tempting choices, and being a bit indecisive, we opted for a tasting menu for two ($40 for 3 courses or $50 for 4) and wine pairings by the glass for each dish. I love surprises, so it was a real treat to try a vast array of homemade charcuteries served on a cutting board. My favourites were the smoked duck magret, the thickly sliced cured bacon and, surprisingly, the beef tongue!

I also loved Victoire’s version of raclette, using local mamirolle cheese, mini potatoes and other gourmet goodies. Honourable mention goes to the bone marrow, cut lengthwise and filled with garlicky escargots and chorizo. Most photogenic plate of our meal was the beef tartare, served with an oyster and decorated with a tiny quail egg yolk, Lebanese cucumber and jalapeño.

And the wines! We loved each one that Sindie chose, including Les Violettes, a Syrah from the Rhône Valley, and the uniquely tasting (dark fruit and leather), not to mention oddly named, La Folle Noire d’Ambat, from southwest France, which went extremely well with the little escargots.

Dessert, which was an instant hit, was the Crème Citron – a reinvented lemon tarte artfully arranged as scrumptious morsels of pineapple grilled in sake, crunchy bites of lemon cake, large shards of coconut, mini meringues, bits of bitter fennel and baby basil shoots. Paired with the 2007 Muscat de Risvaltes from Cazes vineyards, this was a refreshing dessert to cleanse our palate at the end of our meal.

As lively as this bistro is, it’s just as easy to have an intimate dinner off in one corner or to sidle up to the bar or the large communal table to enjoy a meal on your own while brushing elbows with other patrons. If you like dining late, the after-10 p.m. menu is only $20. Now that smells like victory!

Chez Victoire
1453 Du Mont-Royal Avenue East
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