It is always exciting for me to make a new restaurant discovery in Montreal. While Chez Delmo (www.chezdelmo.com) has actually been around for some time, I had never stepped in there until recently. Dinner turned out to be one fabulous experience!

Located at 275 Notre Dame Ouest, near the heart of Old Montreal, Chez Delmo has gone through several incarnations since first opening in 1932. Five years ago Benoît Dessureault and Adam Bornell, who had previously worked in the print-media advertising business, did what any serious customers of a good restaurant would – they bought Chez Delmo. Unquestionably, they were the right men for the job as the restaurant has been booming ever since.

Cehz Delmo

The vintage Chez Delmo sign in front of the restaurant.

We took an 8 pm reservation on a busy Saturday night when there are two sittings, the first beginning at 5:30 pm. There is evening valet parking for $15, which is no higher than the nearby lots. Cars are parked in an indoor garage. We were shown to a nice window side table. Our server Shannon first offered us some drinks, recommending the 75. This mix of champagne, raspberry and sage was a perfect way to start the evening off.

Chez Delmo is known as a French restaurant specializing in fish and seafood and I must say they really know how to do it right. We took some time to study the excellent menu, first taking aim at the starters and appetizers. I began with a mixed salad, accompanied by some cherry tomatoes and some dynamite house dressing while the other order turned out to be an endive salad which resulted in a huge thumbs up. They also offer a cheese plate, fried calamari, shrimp cocktail, crab cakes, caviar, soups and clam chowder among others.

We next shared the salmon tartare, with coriander and capers, with some pieces of melba toast which enabled us to taste the dish as a spread. Then came the oysters, guaranteed to be available in season. We ordered 12 of them, with two different sauces to try. Last summer, while on vacation, we came upon a number of restaurants with oysters and fell in love with this delicacy. At Chez Delmo, they were out of this world. While six each should have been plenty, when I ate my last one I was still craving for more.

For the main course we had a hard time choosing. Shannon helped us out by describing first the Dover sole – an item which is not readily available at most Montreal restaurants. Brought in from Holland, the fish is prepared meunière (in a skillet), deboned as four filets and accompanied by a small pitcher of brown butter on the side. We shared the fish, which cut so easily and melted in our mouths. This definitely must be considered one of their staple dishes. It came with some mashed potatoes and vegetables.

We also saved room to share a 1.75 pound lobster. It was grilled and the chef was nice enough to agree to our request for it to be cut up as much as possible in order for the lobster meat to be pulled out, allowing us to avoid the cracking of the shells. It came with rice pilaf and vegetables. This may have been some of the best lobster I have tasted in a long time. It is served Bellevue, poached, grilled, in salad, and bisque as well as Newburg and Thermidor style.

Chex Delmo

Dover Sole is a signature Chez Delmo dish

There are plenty of other items I have circled for our next visit. The seafood platter, served cold, consists of lobster, six oysters, four shrimps, scallop ceviche and Alaskan king crab. There is Arctic char, Atlantic salmon, cod, walleye, halibut, mussels, scallops, grilled scampi, a lobster club sandwich, frogs legs and fish and chips. In the meat department, you can choose from the rack of lamb, been tab angus, duck leg confit, filet mignon and steak. They also have some pasta items. Yes, we did save room for dessert and shared the fondant au chocolat, composed of a small chocolate cake with crunchy rind and mellow filling that is served hot with vanilla ice cream on a plate.

Chez Delmo has an à la carte dinner, table d’hôte, lunch menu and an extensive wine list. Dessureault said that French white wine remains the favorite among clients, particularly among the lunch crowd.

A bit of history. Chez Delmo originally opened in 1910 as a private English gentlemen’s club. In 1964 restaurateur Roland Perisset assumed ownership and began referring to regulars as Delmonians. When Perisset decided to retire in 2004, the restaurant’s manager Simon Desjeans, bought the establishment and relocated it across the street to the current spot. The Holder brothers (as in Brasserie Holder) took over next in 2007 and shortened the name to Delmo. It was not a successful investment and closed a year later.

Dessureault and Bornell stepped up to the plate in 2011, reopened and even found the old vintage Chez Delmo sign to hang in front as well as some original bar stools. Artist Carlito Dalceggio was commissioned to create some murals.

The restaurant can accommodate 60 diners and 20 more at the bar.

Chez Delmo is open Monday to Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and closed on Sunday. For reservations call 514-288-4288, e-mail info@chezdelmo.com  or log on to www.chezdelmo.com.

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