4593 Saint-Denis. Mont-Royal métro. BYOB
RESERVATIONS: 849-8929. HOURS: 5:30 p.m.10 p.m., Wed.Sat. 5:30 p.m.9 p.m., Tues. and Sun. Closed Mon. NO-SMOKING SECTION: No. WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes. PRICESTABLE DHÔTE: $23. CREDIT CARDS: Mastercard.
This trendy resto has the major advantage of having a pretty brick-floored wooden terrasse right out front on Saint-Denis, a must to attract sun-seeking Montrealers who increasingly demand al fresco dining all summer long.
Since we first reviewed it, there has been a real improvement in the quality of food at Le Petit Portefeuille! Sylvain, the new sous-chef, working with the original chef-owner, has refocused the restaurant's emphasis on Southwestern French cooking in all its diversity. A case in point: the salade tiède à la façon À Basque, a green salad accompanied by Toulouse sausage and a gamey, complex tasting confit of pheasant. The salade à marché is an imaginative blend of vegetables, featuring steamed leeks with an aïoli-type sauce.
The rolls served here are warm and flaky, the crust almost croissant-like, and the soupe estivale (summer soup) is a nicely puréed mix of green vegetables, not overly salted or spiced. The bavette de boeuf au vinaigre de framboises, a tender piece of beef served in a thankfully not-too-salty savoury sauce, reminded us favourably of similar versions we've had at inexpensive Paris bistros, with one big difference: the vegetables at Le Petit Portefeuille come in an astounding variety. Don't be surprised if zucchini, pan-roasted potato pieces, carrots, parsnips, and red cabbage purée all find their way to your plate.
Other specialties here include cassoulet A sud-ouest, and the confit and magret de canard combo plate. For dessert, try their tarte Tatin, the heavenly marriage of apple slices with the caramelized taste of burnt sugar. They also offer the sinful standards, poires belle Hélene, profiteroles au chocolat, as well as a coupe de sorbet. One to watch.