L.A.B - Live and Breath

L.A.B has been on my list of restaurants to try for a while as chef and co-owner Howard Dubrovsky went to McGill while I was there. Although our paths didn't cross that often in Montreal, I am so proud to see his project come to fruition and the result= it was a delicious restaurant experiment full of delightful surprises in taste, textures and flavours.

This new College and Grace restaurant offers a great alternative to the restaurants in Little Italy. It's intimate with it's exposed brick and open kitchen makes it a fun but cozy atmosphere perfect for a date or a catch up with a small group of friends.

You can tell Dubrovsky had a lot of fun making up the menu themed with molecular gastronomy with an italian flare full of food smokers, and other wonderful gizmos and gadgets to create a play with food.   We challenged the kitchen as I was dining with my best friend who is one of the world's pickiest eaters - she doesn't eat seafood, nor red meat so we asked for recommendations and I wanted the tasting menu option as I was so intrigued about items on the menu but didn't know where to begin.  So she picked a few dishes off the menu and I did the tasting menu.
With each dish, Howard graciously came out to explain each one of our items.  The first thing that came out for me was not even on the menu but he was introducing it soon - we named it the "magic mushroom" appetizer.  I adore all kinds of mushrooms so I was very excited about the dish.  It featured the seasonal wild mushroom creating some delicious textures, there was also salsify (pronounced sal-see-fee) which is a grass like vegetable to compliment it all together.
My girlfriend had a lovely beet salad and apple cubes which was a great opener for her.  
The next dish for me was the sous vide lobster complimented with a fennel mouse and panchetta to add some salt and crunch to the dish.  The lobster was very buttery and sweet!
We then had a simple pasta with olive oil and garlic with a punch of salt from  the olive tapanade, this dish was very comforting. 

We then got  the parmesan potato croquettes with tomato chutney. OMG they are very good. Crispy on the outside and warm and pillowy on the inside.
Finally I had the short rib with celery root and red cabbage.  The short rib was tender and juicy and fell off the bone. 
My girlfriend had the smoked tomato jelly and gnudi.  I thought it was perfectly smoky from the tomatoes and a good dish; my friend, the picky eater, doesn't prefer anything smoked so it was a bit of a challenge for her to finish unfortunately but at this point -we were almost stuffed.   
Lastly to end our meal we were presented a deconstructed tiramisu olive oil cake - it was perfectly light and subtle and an ideal way to end off a full meal.

I can't wait to go back and try more dishes and their brunch perhaps with someone who has a more adventurous palette.  I commend my girlfriend for having such an open mind and open appetite that evening.  Regardless it was a fun evening full of food adventures and good company.
**** stars
LOCATION: 651 College St.
PHONE NUMBER: 416-551-5025
WEBSITE: labrestaurant.com

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