Did you make it to Bistro Montage? did you get the $18 Elk Burger entree? did it "stack up"?Bistro Montage
I was avoiding writing about Bistro Montage because it was kind of an unpleasant experience.
Few pictures were taken (I was kind of on “vacation” and didn’t want to feel like I was working), though we started with a charcuterie platter that looked a lot like any other charcuterie platter you’ve ever had, and it was a strong open. I was very impressed with the dense flavor of the country pate and the rich, slightly alky-sweetness of the chicken liver pate…but it was kind of downhill from there.
Small predictor of things to come: wine was ordered minutes after we walked in but was not delivered until after the appetizer was served. It was a busy night, so we understood and were, I believe, cool with the server’s flustered apologies. “No worries,” I said, “I see you’re all alone tonight.” And she was: I’m guessing there were maybe 45 tops in the room, mostly full, and this poor young lady was almost running back and forth between kitchen and dining room.
Then the wine we ordered was out of stock, so the server substituted another, better wine at the same price, so that was cool.
Then I ordered the liver and onions and The Wife ordered cassoulet – it’s 7:30PM on a Saturday night and they were out of both. I ordered skatewing and The Wife ordered Guinea Fowl, of which I had just a bite and it was fine.
My daughter, who is forever seeking evidence that I’m the world’s biggest ass-bite, was with us, so I was on especially good behavior, but after giving her a first taste of my skate wing, I took a nibble and got a blast of ammonia. I tried again – this time, the tongue-numbing ammoniated tang stayed with me for over a minute. I asked The Wife to try it and she confirmed. I told the server, who went to the kitchen and came back to offer that the kitchen prepare another plate of skate wing, but by that point, I just said, “No, that’s okay.” Server offered to take one of the apps off the check, but I said, reassuringly I hoped, “It’s okay. Really, we’re not looking for you to comp us on anything.”
But they brought a bouillabaisse, which I thought was a nice gesture…but it was not a good version of this dish.
I’ve made a fair number of these seafood soups before, and when it’s made well, it’s really one of my favorite dishes…certainly one of my favorite soups,
but this version would probably not be recognizable as bouillabaisse if you were going by taste alone. The seafood was fine (though I detected a touch of ammonia, but maybe at this point I was over-sensitized to that taste sensation). Clearly the weak link was the broth, a vapid, one-dimensional, thin mixture of not very distinctive flavors (except for NH3) that did not terribly offend, excite or do much of anything for me.
The Chef came by after dinner and apologized (“When skate wing goes south it goes fast”), and that was fine. We were not charged for the skate wing.
It gives me no joy to turn in a report like this, and I honestly I was trying to put this experience out of mind. On a positive note, my daughter did concede that at no point in this somewhat disastrous dinner did I come off as an ass-bite, so that is some victory, however Pyrrhic.
I should have tried the Elk burger.
2724 Ingersoll Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50312