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Les Enfants Terribles marks 15 years in dining excellence; Place Ville Marie locale offers a sensational ambiance

    Owner Francine Brûlé (right) and noted restaurant publicist Marie-Annick Boisvert.

    Les Enfants Terribles (https://www.jesuisunenfantterrible.com)  has been blowing out its 15 candles in style. Anniversary festivities for the trendy restaurant group began in late May with a happy hour at the first branch on Bernard Street in Outremont, which has a wonderful street-side terrasse for the summer.  The celebration has continued at each of the six locations.

    On June 1, there was a festive lunch on the terrasse at Centropolis Laval, featuring lobster; on June 2, the Place Ville Marie spot, renowned for its magnificent view,  there was a 5@7 with a live artist on their 44th-floor terrasse; on June 9 in Brossard, an event in collaboration with Portage Gin, celebrated the opening of its very first terrasse; on June 10  customers were invited to Magog for their sixth anniversary, for an evening of drinking on their magnificent terrasse with a deejay spinning tunes; finally, on July 15,  customers are invited to join a lunchtime picnic at the restaurant on Nuns’ Island.  

    It was back in the fall of 2007, during a family dinner, that  Francine Brûlé dreamed aloud of a new challenge. A seasoned businesswoman in the fashion business, mother of three grown boys and a natural team player, she immediately welcomed the idea of a restaurant, which became an obvious choice. In the days that followed, as fate would have it, she fell in love with a space on the corner of Bernard and Champagneur streets in Outremont. On February 1, 2008, she took possession of the premises and the first Les Enfants Terrible was in operation.

    Where did the name come from? “I always brought the kids with me to Acapulco each winter,” Francine told me. “A few months before the opening in Outremont the kids, then in their 20s, went out all night. One of them, Alexandre Brûlé Brosseau, came back the following afternoon and that got me worried. When he finally returned, I called him an ‘Enfant Terrible.’  And then it hit me, what a good name for my new restaurant. It stuck!

     It was actually   Alexandre, along with architect-designer Louis-Joseph Papineau, who renovated the Outremont space from top to bottom. They installed glass doors at the front and added features such as rustic wood, chalkboards, an open kitchen, murals by Tim Barnard, long wooden tables and a magnificent central bar. Inspired design and a clever layout helped create an inviting and cozy atmosphere. On April 14, 2008, the new eatery welcomed its first customers. During lunchtime and weekend brunch, the space is awash in natural light.  Francine’s husband Serge Bruneau, played a pivotal role in the early years of the restaurant group as well.   

    Nuns’ Island followed in 2013, followed by Centropolis Laval in 2015, Place Ville Marie in 2016, Magog in 2017 and Brossard in 2022.

    Les Enfants Terribles revisits the classics and crafts innovative and simple dishes with a festive, flavourful and unorthodox touch.  Francine has managed to recreate the homey atmosphere of a somewhat chaotic household where the fare is comforting, original and refined. Les Enfants Terribles is a place you’ll want to adopt. Once you have, you’ll realize you’re now one of us, an Enfant Terrible!

    I had been to the Outremont location a few years ago for lunch during Le Burger Week. This time  I chose  Place Ville Marie. My wife and I were so overjoyed with the entire experience.  We parked inside, which required us to take an escalator, a promenade through the food court and then another escalator and two elevators. But wow, was it worth the journey. We did secure a coveted table for two on the rooftop terrasse with a magnificent view of the city. It is bordered by large glass partitions.

    The restaurant can seat 215 people,  with 64 seats on the terrasse. “Originally, the administration of Place Ville Marie opened this location as a franchise,” says Francine. “Last winter we took it back as a corporate restaurant.”

     Our charming server Elizabeth provided an overview of the menu.  After some cocktails – Thé(rrible) and a Virgin Outremont – we started off with some appetizers:  a dozen delicious New Brunswick oysters and some terrific salmon tartar, fresh and lightly-smoked, with coriander, salsa verde, tostedas, lime and chilli oil and muijol caviar. We’ll have to consider options like the soup of the day, homemade black pudding, beef carpaccio, half burrata, fried calamari, roasted cauliflower and their salads next time.

    For the main courses, we shared steak and fries (substituting the latter with mashed potatoes) and some grilled sea bass. I must say the latter was so exquisitely prepared. Crispy on the outside, moist inside and not a trace of bones. Some of the other selections include burgers, pasta, salmon, fish and chips, ribs, braised beef and poutine.

    We did save room to share a dessert and on this night it was a special from the chef, a granola praline with lemon and whipped cream. The perfect way to cap off a wonderful dining experience.

    It is definitely our intention to experience some of the other locations as well.

    Les Enfants Terribles also has a catering division.

    This one is located at 1 Place Ville Marie, with the Robert Bourassa Blvd. entrance the most convenient. For reservations call 514-544-8884.  Hours of operation are  11 am to 10 pm Monday to Friday; and 5 pm to 10 pm Saturday and Sunday.  Info: https://www.jesuisunenfantterrible.com 

    Mike Cohen

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