Alright, this post has actually taken me a week to write – things are busy and I am currently under the weather with my ever so lovely flare-up I get from time to time. Just great! Oh well, I am dealing with it.
For Salem’s birthday dinner (en tête-à-tête), we decided to try out a restaurant we had never been to. A restaurant I hear about every single day thanks to CJAD talk radio. We went to the ever so posh Gibby’s in Vieux Montréal (Old Montreal).
I knew it would be expensive but I figured “what better way to celebrate my Habibi’s birthday than with a nice, expensive dinner”. With reservations made a few days earlier, all dressed up and perfumed, off we went to the resto.
There’s one really nice feature about this place, which you can enjoy from the moment you arrive: valet parking. Of course, Salem being as
paranoid “cautious” as he is, decided he didn’t want anyone else driving his car and parked a block away and supported the greedy city of Montréal by feeding a few bucks into the parking meter. Thankfully, it was very mild outside and the sidewalk wasn’t covered with its usual winter black ice just yet.
Gibby’s is located in a nice, old stone building, which seems to have been stables at a point and time. Don’t worry, it doesn’t smell like horses anymore – far from it. There’s a coat check in the basement and a smiling hostess to receive you when you come in.
We were seated in a corner which is great considering how much I dislike being bombarded by the noise from tables all around me. This is when the hostess hands you your menu and the “catch of the day” card. Brought to our table: a fresh loaf of bread (it was still warm and covered with a cloth), butter, bowl of pickles and
bacon bits (the waiter promptly took them away when informed we were allergic – the poor guy seemed embarrassed; it’s ok, no worries). The bread was great, but we were quite perplexed by the pickles – are you supposed to eat them alone? Or does it have something to do with the whole “bread and butter pickles”? I told Salem to take a look and see what the people seated at the other tables were doing, he found no indication. We had only ever been served pickles with coleslaw or smoked meat. We decided to slice the pickles and sneakily tried a slice with some buttered bread – “Act like we belong here!”. Not bad, but I’ll just eat my pickle as-is next time.
Our waiter came around and, of course, we refused drinks and just stuck to water. He didn’t even bat an eyelash when we said no alcohol, which was nice. I sometimes feel awkward or wonder “how much will the service suffer” when we don’t order alcoholic beverages. The waiter made a joke about “Château de la pompe 1968” being a very good year. I liked that he had a sense of humour and didn’t just rush off right away.
For the main course, Salem ordered the grilled arctic char (fish) with the marinated tomato and onion salad. I ordered the chicken Kiev along with the Gibby’s salad. Also available is the gazpacho. Here I thought the salads were side dishes, but no, they are more like starter salads. That was a nice surprise! Oh, and I have to mention the stance the waiter takes when he offers you freshly ground pepper; it’s like they are presenting you with a bottle of wine! It made me smile, maybe even smirk a bit. As we were finishing off our salads, the waiter brought us 2 little bowls with a ball inside and a small spoon. Salem “What’s that?”, Me “I’m not sure… margarine? *looks closer* It’s crystallized! Oh! I think it’s sorbet, you know, to cleanse your palate”. Indeed, it was a lemony-limey sorbet. “Don’t look at it too much, just eat it and act like you belong here!”
Our main course came soon after. Along with the arctic char and chicken Kiev, the plates came with asparagus and a baked potato (you can opt for sides other than the baked potato such as the Monte Carlo potato, etc). Salem’s fish was actually quite a large piece given what we’re used to getting in restaurants; and my chicken Kiev came with 2 pieces, not just one. It turns out that arctic char is somewhat similar to salmon, but the flavour being a hint more “meaty” while still being light and fluffy in texture. The chicken Kiev (chicken breasts stuffed with herbs and butter, breaded and topped with chives) was excellent! I wasn’t able to finish my plate so the 2nd piece and half of my potato were taken home in a doggy bag. I’d like to take a moment here to mention the other waiter that was also serving our table. He took my plate to prep the doggy bag and I was just surprised at the absolute care he took when bringing the doggy bag back to our table. I don’t know why it struck me, but he put the container in a Gibby’s bag and folded the bag over and then placed it on the table (almost as if presenting it). Man! I’m just glad if most places don’t just throw the half-closed container down on the table!
We were having a hard time deciding on dessert and had to ask our waiter for his opinion. His description had me going for the hot apple croûte. I was thinking apple crumb à la mode but boy was I wrong. 2 forks are a must for this dessert! It’s basically a puff pastry topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, apple chunks and drizzled with a savory (not overly sweet) caramel with a bit of whipped cream on the side – AMAZING! Salem had a coffee and I opted for a cappuccino. The waiter chatted us up as we were finishing our meal – very nice fellow. He talked to us about the restaurant and the owner and the culture of the restaurant (ie customer service and care). It was really nice – I can’t remember the last time a waiter even chatted us up.
All in all, yes, it was expensive but I think the food and experience were well worth the price tag. I guess I can say that I have fallen for Gibby’s. I wouldn’t fail to recommend it for special occasions and hope to return sometime. Total for 2: just under $100, plus tip.