Located in a historic building on rue Saint-François-Xavier and next door to the Centaur Theatre in Old Montreal, fine French cuisine Restaurant Bonaparte (www.bonaparte.com) turned 40 in March. It was wonderful to dine there again recently.

Recognized as one of Open Table’s top 100 romantic restaurants, Bonaparte is a culinary institution for theatregoers, tourists and international stars. The restaurant was founded in 1984 by Louis H Ladouceur when Montreal’s Old Port was not the tourist magnet it is today. General Manager Martin Bédard got his start here as a bus boy when he was 19.

The restaurant seats 112, including seven at the bar, and offers three dining rooms with three different atmospheres, including La Verrière, a small 20-seat room that can be used for special events.  They do have a theatre menu, featuring a three-course table d’hôte from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

My guest and I opted in favor of the tasting menu. Our server Mathieu guided us through the selections. We started off with piping hot bowls of lobster bisque, enhanced with ginger. Next came homemade smoked salmon, served with truffle oil for me and Duck foie gras crème brulée, with sautéed apples for my friend. I then opted for the shrimps and scallops, flavored with vanilla; while my friend chose the trademark  mushroom ravioli perfumed with fresh sage. It was then time for the main course. For me, the breast of duck, flavored with maple syrup and wild berries, was an easy choice. This is not an item you see on many restaurant menus. My companion enjoyed the roasted rack of lamb and port wine jus. So how do you top this all off? The decadent lime pie and maple cheesecake were worthy conclusions to a sumptuous meal. Oh yes, let me add that the tasting menu includes the option of a wine pairing for each item. Frederic is the mixologist on staff and the team here raves about his work. I second the motion!

REDEFINING THE DEPANNEUR:   What do you get when you mix the concept of Whole Foods, the major grocery store chain noted for its organic and healthy products, with a convenience shop format? It is KaleMart24, the brainchild of Oussama (Sam) Saoudi. The new pioneering natural convenience store chain unveiled its first store at the Berri-UQAM metro station in early March. A second locale followed at the Jarry Metro with a prime location across from the Bell Centre slated for June. I stopped by for a visit upon the invitation of operations director Ryann Goldstein and once inside I was blown away by what I saw at this innovative store concept which promises to redefine convenience shopping while promoting health-conscious lifestyles. For more details, including looking into a franchise, go to www.kalemart24.com

Follow Mike Cohen’s culinary adventures at www.MtlRestoRap.com. E-mail him at [email protected]

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