Arëm, Griffintown's newest addition
[The evening was so cold out that my iPhone/camera froze out of service for most of the evening. All photos below come from Nightlife Magazine.] I've never been to a restaurant launch in New York but I feel like I got a taste of what it would be like. Back in January, I was lucky enough to be invited to the extravagant media launch of Griffintown's latest addition: Arëm.
The beautiful new restaurant is located on William, a few steps away from L'Arsenal. The chef behind Arëm, Reza Azarpoor, describes the cuisine as a mix between traditional oriental flavors and modern cuisine. The goal of the evening was to introduce us to his dining concept by experiencing it beforehand.
We were welcomed with a few cocktail bites even if no cocktails were to be found. I was bummed out after reading on the menu that we were supposed to be served Arak which is kind of like the oriental version of Ricard.
The room we started the evening in was beautiful and gave a sneak peak into the main dining room, which was separated with a beautiful glass wall / cellier. We also got a hint of private and smaller dining rooms for special occasions.
We then proceeded to find our respective seats once we found our names, playfully written in arabic. The service started with a flavored grape water with dry ice, a perfect introduction for what was to come.
Arëm only serves tasting menus, with a selection of 5 experiences that each include 4 courses. The price for any of the 5 menus is $150 and it excludes taxes, service and wine. After trying some of the most reknowned and expensive tasting menus this city has to offer, I can confirm that this 4-course tasting menu is the most expensive in Montreal!
So, is it worth it?
Our service consisted of:
Amuse-bouche Cupan Salata - An amazing salad that sadly fit on only one bite. I would have eaten much more of it.
Starters Berg-i Engur Sarmasi - Vine leaves completely revisited with a solid paste of vines and a risotto in the middle. Za'feranli Merak-i Badem - A saffron almond soup that was as impressive in taste as visually. I loved the addition of liver in the bowl!
Main Kestaneli Sak-i Bere - Maybe the best lamb I have had in my life. I believe it was cooked sous-vide as the texture was very refined. The dish was amazing and once again, it was very beautiful to look at.
Dessert The dessert course was a bit improvised as it was made live in the entrance room by the chef. Sadly, I don't remember much of it.
Each course was amazing and it was truly a beautiful dining experience. I can definitely say that a lot of work has been put in conceptualizing those courses and each component was mastered fully. But... I left hungry! And you should never leave a restaurant feeling hungry if you went for the tasting menu. It's a huge mistake in my opinion and I truly hope that portions have been revised since the media event.
Would I go back?
I don't like the fact that there is no menu à la carte. I would go back tomorrow if they would have a regular menu and let us pick what we want. Since the quality was there but not the quantity, I would be hesitant to spend $150 to leave feeling hungry a second time.
However, I do not think Arëm will change its concept and it's ok this way. I think this restaurant wants to offer a very specific experience and it caters to a very specific crowd, including the business crowd that needs places like this to impress their clients.
If you're curious but don't have the budget, Arëm also offers a cocktail and a brunch menu both for $80 and they featured a declination of 8 sample plates.
Find out more about Arëm here.