By Alyssa De Rosa – mtltimes.ca
L’Orignal Restaurant re-opened its doors recently to hungry, media foodies excited to taste the new menu and visualize the new décor. Led by husband and wife, Monika Terlecki and Travis Champion, and brother-in-law Michael Terlecki, L’Orignal first opened in 2007 with the desire to bring a “comfortable, cozy, Canadian” feel to the Old Port. Soon after, they were recognized for their copious amounts of oysters and on-site “shuckers.” Seven years later, the support for Quebec farms and suppliers remains as does that good ol’ chalet feel, but with new chef Omar Zabuair on the chopping block, L’Orignal offers its clientele a different menu as well as new aesthetics.
I had the pleasure of attending this event which began with unlimited oysters and Prosecco that I can guarantee spearheaded the night into a very happy and delicious one. Following the meet and greets and getting comfortable in each other’s company, we were all asked to take a seat at a table and prepare ourselves for the seven course meal that Chef Omar Zabuair prepared for us.
As the dishes trickled in our eyes were definitely bigger than our stomachs – anticipating the flavours to come in each bite. The menu included: broccoli a la Polonaise (broccoli, hardboiled egg, toasted breadcrumbs and lemon juice), Soufflé cuit deux fois aux chanterelles et mimolette (soufflé, creamed corn and chanterelles), Pommes de terre au four (warm potted lobster, smoked trout, mussels escabeche and hot oysters alongside baked potatoes), Ricotta Gnudi (homemade ricotta in spinach butter), Rouleaux de choux au porc (pork cabbage rolls), Osso Bucco de Bison (Bison, bone marrow pilaf and kohlrabi curry), and finally the fluffy, rustic dessert “Buckle aux Bleuets” (a blueberry cake topped with creamy goodness.
My favorites of the night were definitely the creamed corn soufflé and the pork cabbage rolls. The texture of the soufflé was on point alongside the flavours of the chanterelles mushrooms. As for the pork stuffed cabbage roll – let there be pork! A generous amount of pork I can say in a perfectly cooked cabbage roll (not too soft) and was definitely able to stand alone as a main dish.
The event commemorating and introducing this “New Chapter” to media and guests was perfect. The alcohol was flowing as was the conversation from table-to-table. Chef Omar Zabuair came out a couple of times to say hello as guests showered him with compliments. Montrealers can expect good food, a great atmosphere and home-grown, local products from this reboot.
I was lucky enough to ask the owners as well as Chef Zabuair a couple of questions regarding this exciting project. Here’s what they had to say:
1. What can we expect from this “New Chapter?”
When we first opened L’Orignal, we felt that Old Montreal was missing that comfortable, cozy Canadian restaurant. Our mentality was to build a place where our customers never wanted to leave. Our “New Chapter” seeks to maintain this cozy, relaxed environment in face of our new décor and new chef, Omar Zabuair.
Also, our new bar which we (myself, Michael Terlecki, and my father-in law), built is double the size of our previous bar. We want our customers to know that whether they are seeking to enjoy a sit-down dinner, to indulge in oysters with their colleagues for a 5a7, or spend a night out and enjoy our signature L’Orignal cocktails and bar food – we have it all.
2. How did you come across Chef Omar Zabuair? Why was he a good fit for your restaurant?
Word got out that Omar was available. At the time we were only looking for a sous chef. It wasn’t long before Omar to the helm.
He completely understands everything we want L’Orignal to be. His food is simple yet so much pride goes into every single element. It’s not showy but always phenomenal tasty. He’s a no nonsense guy, if it’s not in season or readily available or too expensive he does it serve it.
3. What do you want people to think of when they think of your restaurant?
Cozy, comfortable, game meat, Canadian.
1. How can you describe your experience at L’Orignal thus far?
It’s great to work for an established restaurant. Monika and Travis have created a great environment to work in and the staff believe in this place and it shows with their work ethic.
There’s a tremendous amount freedom, they’re very easy to cook for, they’ve loved everything so far.
2. What makes this restaurant unique/different compared to others you worked for?
The best thing about working at L’Orignal is working for Monika, Travis, and Michael. They are very supportive, we are a perfect fit.
479 Rue Saint Alexis, Montréal, QC H2Y 2N7