On my last trip to Montreal we dined at Le Vin Papillon, the sister restaurants of Joe Beef and Liverpool House. All these restaurants are known for being very hard to get into with reservations being booked up months in advance. But Le Vin Papillon is a wine bar and doesn’t take reservations, so we got there at 3pm when they opened and made ourselves comfortable.
I would recommend visiting with a group, we were four people and we got to try about half the things on the menu. The portion sizes were actually much bigger than I expected considering that fact that it’s a wine bar. We were able to share every plate between four people and everyone had enough to eat.
I’ll start my little review by saying that the service here was great. I think about four different people waited on us that night either bringing us food, recommending food and wine or clearing the table. They were all very attentive and friendly even when it started to get really busy later in the evening. So in terms of service this places gets an A+. Also every bottle of wine we had was great and the server was really good about explaining the different options and giving us recommendations.
As for the food I have to admit I was a little disappointed. Joe Beef and Liverpool House are known for being amazing restaurants, some of the top in Canada and you’d expect Le Vin Papillon to be just as amazing based on all the hype. While I’ve never eaten at Joe Beef or Liverpool House I have to say that I’m not rushing out to eat at either place after my experience here. While the food was good and interesting I felt that some flavour was lacking with certain dishes. It’s been a few weeks since we ate there and nothing really stands out to me as something I would go back to eat unlike other restaurants I’ve been too where I still think about certain dishes. That being said I wouldn’t discourage anyone from going to Le Vin Papillon because the food and experience was good and reasonably priced for this type of restaurant in Montreal.
We started by ordering the two charcuterie plates, one was ham with shaved parmesan and the other was a sausage with pickled red peppers. We also got a cheese plate even though the server said it was more of a dessert thing. The cheese plate came with a big piece of delicious bread and honey. The cheese plate was probably my favourite thing of the night but I love cheese so it’s always my favourite part. We also got another bread that I don’t have a photo of that had a sort of cheese/cream/garlic sauce on it and it was also really good.
For our next “course” or round of food we got the cauliflower “hot chicken” which I was really excited about because I love cauliflower but this was my biggest disappointment of the evening. I flavour was really weak for this dish. I think it was supposed to taste like a BBQ chicken but it was just like they poured a weak chicken gravy over the cauliflower. Also the cauliflower didn’t seem to be cooked properly all the way through so it was a bit tough. We also got falafel which was my favourite dish. The flavours were all really good and even though there was a lot going on with the hummus, cream, pickled radish and herbs it all worked and was delicious. I can’t speak for the raw scallops with corn since I don’t eat seafood but apparently it was delicious.
Next up we were adventurous and ordered the duck hearts which if I’m honest had a good flavour but a strange texture that I just couldn’t get over. We also got the smoked carrot eclair that was topped with a cream. It was good but I think the mayonnaise inside ruined it and just made it too rich. It was really big and I ended up eating most of it since the rest of the people I was dining with weren’t really into it. By the end I was a bit sick of it and I wouldn’t really recommend ordering it if it’s on the menu.
Our next round was the chicken leg (that came with the leg still attached, a little startling to say the least). It was good and the meat was moist but it was really nothing special other than the presentation with the chicken foot. We also got the snails and artichoke hearts that I also didn’t eat but I was told by my friends that they were delicious.
To finish I got the pavlova with nectarine and basil. This dessert was delicious and a great way to end a slightly underwhelming meal. I expected more from the food but at least the dessert was great. We also had an aperitif and the server brought out a bunch of big bottles for us to try and we had some really great drinks. But one of them did end up costing $22 so maybe ask the price before you get a full glass. But by that point we were three bottles of wine in and not really thinking about the price so the blame is one us.
Overall the experience here was good but I probably wouldn’t go back. There are other similar wine bar restaurants in Montreal that I enjoyed a lot more. But I am still curious to try Joe Beef and Liverpool House to see if they are better. If you do go to Le Vin Papillon either arrive early before 5pm or expect at least an hour wait. By the time we left around 7:30pm the place was packed and the wait was at least 2 hours if not more. Granted it was a Saturday night but this is the type of place that gets busy even on weeknights.