Address: 1201 Van Horne, Montreal, Quebec, H2V 1K4
Official website: http://www.lesinfluences.com/
The address 1201 van Horne has been synonymous with great French restaurants that have served patrons over the years. Today the tradition continues and grows with its new tenant, Influences.
At Influences, guests are treated to a refreshing take on fusion cuisine by its chefs, whose individual countries of origin (Chile, France and Japan) provide inspiration to the creative combination of ingredients and preparation of the dishes they serve. Details behind the story of how the team came together is revealed in the inner sleeve of the menu and beside each menu item is an image indicating which country of origin, or chef, inspired the dish. The extra details add a personal touch to the experience and glimpse to the type of attention that is put into the Influences experience. The service is professional and décor is warm and chic. You get a feeling that you’re a guest more so than a customer at Influences.
This was my first visit and a scan of the menu had my eyes darting back and forth between appetizers like Foie Gras mi-cuit Alsacien, Trio de Crevettes Influences and main dishes like Filet de saumon Oyako motoyaki and Foie de Veau. I wanted to try them all and that desire was only reinforced as Keiko, one of the owners, kindly began describing how the dishes were prepared. As she described dish after dish, I couldn’t help but think about coming back with friends to share the experience. Soon after she described how the foie gras dish, a signature dish of her husband from Alsace, was prepared over 14 hours, I placed my order and began the Influences experience.
My first meal at Influences would consist of three (3) appetizers of different main ingredients. My first dish was a beef carpaccio that was very fresh, light and filling. At the center of the plate was a salad surrounded by the carapaccio pieces with some topped off with a piece of edamame. While the seasoning of a beef slice was remarkable on its own, I found the perfect bite would be a taste of the salad wrapped into one of the slices with a piece of edamame tucked inside. This was definitely a dish that could easily be shared by two, but as I was not having a main dish, it was a perfect start to my meal. Next would be the shrimp appetizer that Keiko mentioned was quite popular with the regulars to the restaurant. Intrigued and curious to know what the fuss was about, I added it to my first order and was glad I did. You get three perfectly cooked jumbo shrimp presented in a butterfly cut surrounded by finely chopped pieces of roasted garlic and spice sprinkled around the plate. A perfect bite would be a taste of a small piece of shrimp lightly brushed against a sprinkle of the spices on the plate. My last dish would be the Chorizo à la Sergio. The dish is served bubbling hot, so while letting it cool a bit, I decided to cleanse my palate with a taste of the complementary baby pickles and olives. The chorizo was flavourful and moderately spiced. It is a dish that is certainly good to share for two and quite filling as you enjoy with the fresh bread.
There is no doubt that I will return to try the Salmon Filet Oyako motoyaki and the Foie Gras, just to name a few of the dishes that peaked my interest. Located in Outremont and just a few blocks west of Outremont metro, as well as just outside the borders of Mile End, this restaurant is definitely worth the trek for fine cuisine, great service and all at reasonable prices.