A culinary public service
THE RESTAURANT, L’EXPRESS FIRST OPENED ITS DOORS ON DECEMBER 19, 1980 AND HAS HARDLY CLOSES THEM SINCE. ONLY ON BRIEF RESPITE PER YEAR: ON CHRISTMAS DAY.
L’Express, open daily from 8 a.m., is still serving its clientele at 3 a.m., a rarity on the Montréal restaurant scene. But access day and night is only one element of the success of this Montréal institution. L’Express knows and caters to the tastes of it’s large and loyal clientele, made up principally of businessmen and artists, but not solely, according to long time manager Mario Brossoit. The owners – his sister, Colette, Pierre Villeneuve, an accountant and a physician – have been there from the beginning and share a long-term vision for their French bistro: a ‘semi-bourgeoise’ kitchen in the words of Mr. Brossoit, offering classics such as duck confit, fresh salmon, and hanger steak and frites. If these dishes are fashionable fare in restaurants today, they were not back then: L’Express was in the vanguard.
The resto was also a pioneer in introducing a wine list featuring private imports, wines seldom on offer in the early 80’s. The restaurateurs showed flair and boldness in situating in the heart of what has become known today as the Plateau Mont-Royal. At the time this stretch of rue Saint-Denis contained more rooming houses than trendy shops. Consistency in product quality and service has enabled this bistro – where Chef Joël Chapoulie has ruled the kitchen for over twenty years – to remain a blue chip referral that many hotel concierges share with city visitors, without reservation! Mr. Brossoit explains the recipe for the enduring success of L’Express: «Without a doubt all aspects of the experience are carefully considered, from value to the attentiveness of service, from the quality and presentation of the plate, to the human interaction with our customers, it’s really a multitude of things, the exact details of which we can never lose sight of; it should always be the same experience, each time a customer visits, we start anew.
Nothing is assumed. Even with our ‘regulars’ returning for the hundredth time, the worst mistake is to take them for granted. We must always do a little more, because customers deserve a little more.” Today especially, in the era of social networking and the blogosphere, the consumer gets to tell the tale; care and discipline are required more than ever. “One must always listen attentively to customers and be attuned to changes in fashions and lifestyles,” says the manager and personnel director. We could only wish that delivery of public services was as conscientious!
L’Express 3927 rue Saint-Denis Montréal 514 845 5333 restaurantlexpress.ca