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L'Orchidee de Chine restaurant


SteveW
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I've been thinking of asking for more comments about this restaurant for a long time. I know that Lesley Chesterman frequently raves about L'Orchidee de Chine. And it gets lots of favourable media press in Montreal, & in the Montreal guides. But besides all that, I don't anyone knowledgeable about Chinese food ever recommending this restaurant(in particular Asians). The few times that I have ever mentioned L'Orchidee de Chine to Asians, I get a dismissive response(as if to at least imply, this restaurant is for non-Asians(& or tourists)). From what I gather, they don't even have the menu in Chinese(usually a very bad sign for Chinese restaurants). At lunchtime, L'Orchidee attracts a big business crowd. I tried once this summer to dine at L'Orchidee during lunch, but they had no tables left for people with no reservations. Anyone with comments on this restaurant, besides what Lesley has commented? BTW, another Chinese restaurant in Montreal, that gets lots of press, but I can't seem to find anyone knowledgeable about Chinese food to recommend it, is Le Piment Rouge restaurant(Lesley has heavily panned this restaurant).

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Steve

Edited by SteveW (log)
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Don't waste a minute at Piment rouge. The prices are wrong and the vibe is pretty much as they show on their tv infomercial like commercial... Week ends are not very active in that area. The menus have some hits and miss, dumplings for example are hits, the genreral Tsao @ 20$ doesn't even compare to other spots at half that price. Service is pretty anonymous and unequal. For that vibe of menu and prices, I'd rather go to Souvenir d'Indochine before Piment rouge. If you have a perfectly controlled evening at Piment, I'm sure it can be pleasant because the potential is there and the chef is respected but many other factors will take over, such as the service, the timing of the plates and the lukewarm dishes...

The last month or so, I have been taking out food at Soy in the Mile End. I salivate just thinking about firday night Soy take out and Manny is such a sweet guy. The prices are obscene and my kids just can't hold back on those chicken basilic rolls and ginger dumplings.

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I've had one exceptional meal at L'Orchidée, a lunch arranged by a friend of the owner and designed to complement a flight of high-end French wines, which it did beautifully. And that's precisely what's wrong: however refined, the food is unauthentic, the twist being that it's not so much Canadianized as Frenchified (the then and possibly current head chef trained at Maxim's, so I was told). This is apparent in the kitchen's use of French techniques (the sauces especially have a Gaullic slant), the toning down of strong flavours and avoidance of unusual ingredients and the lack of coherence in the menu (a jumble of Mongolian, Cantonese, Szechuan, Peking and other dishes). The result is food stripped to within an inch of its ethnic identity. Throw in a posh decor and downtown address and you have an experience that appeals to Caucasian suits and boutique shoppers, most of whom know little about Chinese cuisine.

Every other meal I've had there has been passable (more than I can say for Le Piment Rouge) but forgettable, a shadow of the Real Thing available from restaurants that charge half as much (or less!) and even from my own kitchen. That's why most Chinese in my acquaintance, and apparently yours, avoid the place. Probably it's best viewed as a Hong Kongish take on French-Chinese fusion; on those terms, it's not bad tho' still overpriced.

Edited by carswell (log)
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  • 2 weeks later...

It is strange that of all the restaurants in the once mighty Mah empire the only one to succeed has been Le Piment Rouge. It baffles me as the food is quite ghastly and the prices!!!! I can name 10 corner noodle shops where you can get a far superior meal at half the price! I think even the Mahs would agree as their new ventures in Toronto are soup & noodle places.

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I think Le Piment Rouge owner Hazel Mah still gets lots of favourable press(Lesley Chesterman's very negative review of Le Piment Rouge being the exception). I remember it was only a couple of years ago, Hazel Mah was named Canadian restaurateur of the year by a Canadian restaurant trade magazine(what a joke!), for her running of Le Piment Rouge.

-Steve

Edited by SteveW (log)
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  • 1 year later...

What really caught my eye yesterday, was Lesley's very very harsh review of L'Orchidee de Chine in the Saturday paper. I've been looking forward to any new reviews of L'Orchidee de Chine by any Montreal restaurant critic and/or Montreal resto guides since I posted this topic on eG. It has been a Chinese restaurant favourite of Montreal restaurant critics for years & years, & presumably some of them do read the eG Montreal section regularly & noticed the L'Orchidee comments by Montreal eG members. Several people have told me privately that L'Orchidee was never any good. It's a very very bad sign, when they practically attract almost no Asians to the restaurant, don't offer chopsticks unless requested. I'm curious to know if they even have their menu in Chinese(& it's not inexpensive to dine there)??

-Steve

Edited by SteveW (log)
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