Bear with me, as I sketch out the Bar Eater philosophy. I know we're bouncing around a bit but Montreal isn't far to go to have a unique experience. While many of Canada's cities aren't so different from their US counterparts; Montreal is distinct, not only on the continent, but in the world. In less than an hour, (six by car), from New York, you can be there. (Don't forget your passport).
Joli fou translates to "pretty lunatic."
I was born in Montreal and although my family left Canada when I was young, the city still holds a place in my heart. Patti and I had come for the weekend, to celebrate my birthday. Saturday night we were looking for a unique and lively place for the birthday feast. The reviews of Le Jolifou were excellent and the name implied a certain levity. French - Mexican fusion definitely sounded different. Whoever was putting those cuisines together had a sense of whimsey. The who turned out to be chef David Ferguson and with his wife, sommelier, Helene Brault.
There is a proper bar at Le Jolifou, however out of curiosity, we sat at the one over looking the kitchen. I remember watching David and his crew in full culinary fury, cranking out one enticing dish after another. We couldn't help but ogle the oysters as they were lined up. I don't know how he noticed, With so much going on, but suddenly there they were, Oysters with green apple mignonette, as tasty as we had imagined! I understand they have recently changed the menu so I can't speak to it directly. I don't know what to make of the new "roadhouse concept," but I'm sure David's experimentally playful spirit is behind it. We'll have to check in when next we are in town.
Cooking for people
During the hight of the evening, chefs are too busy for any real interaction. But when the dinner rush is over, sometimes there is an opportunity to meet them. Fortune was with us this night. We got to talking with David and persuaded Helene to stay for a glass of wine before she headed upstairs to the kids. He is an anglophone from Ontario and she a francophone from Quebec. They live a life they have created for themselves. And they share their creation, Le Jolifou with anyone lucky enough to drop in. Pianist and blogger Minna Re Shin tells the whole story in her post from last summer.
Helene & David
There is no pretense, nor posturing at Le Jolifou. These are real people and this is real food. Art is genuine when it is practiced with sincerely. What a lovely place to spend your birthday. And what lovely people to share it with. Canadians are known to be among the nicest people on earth.
Sincerity is a big part of that.