Celebrity chef Stefano Faita, famous for his exagerrated permasmile, just opened a third restaurant in Montreal’s Little Italy with his comparatively non-hysterical-looking business partner Michele Forgione. First there was the well-reviewed gourmet upscale Italian restaurant Impasto, followed by an excellent Neapolitan pizzeria called Gema. Now, they’ve moved away from Italian toward traditional Quebecois fast food classics at Chez Tousignant.
Tousignant opened up yesterday in the former digs of Café Espresso Vittorio on rue Drolet near Jean-Talon Market. There’s a clean 1950s retro look to the place, with a hand-painted menu, white and turquoise tiling, and stainless steel tables. The unnecessary-yet-seemingly-mandatory big screen TV in the background played The Offspring videos on MuchRetro, (not quite the same kind of “retro” as the decor).
This place aims to reinvent fast food, not by tossing some bling foie gras over poutine to pimp it up, but simply by using good ingredients and cooking them properly. Chef Yann Turcotte says it’s easy to make seared foie gras, but it’s hard to make a good burger. Their poutine is a poutine. Nothing expensive on top. No bullshit. Just a poutine. Thank God for that!
But what does it taste like?
Fries: The fries were tasty, with just the right amount of salt on them. They had a nice golden colour but were a tad on the limp side. 23/30
Gravy: This tastes better than your average canned gravy. It’s a little dull, a little too musky, and not quite rich and creamy enough for my taste, but it mostly works. 38/50
Cheese: I thought a place like this would at least source some proper big cheese curds from the Bois-Francs or eastern Quebec. There are places, like Fromagerie Victoria, that do it right. These curds are the ordinary stuff you get in most Montreal restaurants. But the biggest crime was that the curds were slightly cold, not room temperature, and hardly had any squeak to them. A place that prides itself on fresh ingredients should serve day-fresh cheese, not dead refrigerated curds. Better to order a frite-sauce and pick up some fresh cheese next to the cash register at Royal Plus down the street. 14/20
Verdict: Decent poutine, but the burger is outstanding, possibly the best in the city (if a bit overpriced at $7.50).
Price: Reasonable at $6.75.
Location: Chez Tousignant, 6956, rue Drolet near Belanger and Marché Jean-Talon.