The restaurant’s name alone strikes curiosity. In English you could say it’s “Thingy & Gadget”. Associated to food, I am expecting some sort of urban artistry. And urban it is!
The place is owned and led in the kitchen by Benoît Fortin Lyonnais, François Jobin and Olivier Lescelleur St-Cyr. You currently cannot find the restaurant from a distinctive sign, placard or poster. Only a piece of paper scotch tapped to the window door says you are here. Oh but wait, there is a hint: Look for Chez Jeanine’s sign still hanging from 82 Saint-Joseph West.
I brought my partner Marie-Eve along to share the meal to the area of town where Saint-Roch becomes Saint-Sauveur. Consequently, free parking in the streets. It was on the 13th of September 2012, a little more than three months after the restaurant’s opening.
The minute you walk inside the restaurant you feel the dynamic and lively atmosphere of a young and urban crowd. Unfortunately, greeting the customer is not their forte. And don’t even think about showing up without a reservation (we had reserved 1 month ahead of time), it is a MUST.
-Bonjour (his tone stunned me for being so unpleasant)
-Bonjour. On a une reservation pour deux.
(I look at the table and it is squeezed between three ladies sitting at a table for two and another that will undeniably be part of my party; the length of my thumb separates the tables.)
-Pensez-vous que ce serait possible pour nous d’avoir la table juste ici? (I point to a table that is alone, facing the cooking counter, hoping I could get a glimpse of the action.)
-(And then I continue, also in French) I was wondering, when you call to make a reservation, is it possible to ask for a table in particular?
Note that it could also be the counter.
My 1st thought about this gentleman was that he’s having a bad day. Then came this: I am going to invest at least 100$ of my own hard-worked money and you are greeting me like this? How I wanted to leave, but I wasn’t going to let this incident bother me. Having worked in restaurants and customer service for so long, I know for a fact that he’s not going to stay employed for long or that he is going to have to make serious adjustments to his attitude.
And so we sat, there.
We ordered fried calamari, a grilled cheese, saumon en deux temps and gnocchi. From sitting down to finishing our main dish, two hours and 30 minutes went by. It was long, especially for the kind of atmosphere that taints Patente & Machin. I dare you not to be bothered by the hard rock, rap—and at some point, heavy metal— to set the tone for creamy and mouth-watering gnocchi. The atmosphere is in direct contradiction with some of the items on its menu, but otherwise fit for this urban, masculine setting.
The menu is written on black boards carried from table to table by the waiter. Unfortunately, we sat in a corner where the boards were not visible from our seat. The menu was explained for eight people at once and only once, so listen carefully because surrounding noise and the music can be very distracting. Every time new customers walk in, the same exercise takes place. Because the restaurant is small, it will either amuse or hassle you after the 3rd time.
The grilled cheese
…is not a grilled cheese. It’s a pulled pork sandwich that was way too sweet for my taste. The raisins gave away too much love to an already overwhelmingly sweet sauce that topped the pulled pork. Almost no oka to be found! Call it a pull pork sandwich, not a grilled cheese, please.
I loved their calamari! I think it’s the Panko that makes them so exciting. Panko is Japanese breadcrumbs made of crispy bread flakes. Compared to traditional breadcrumbs, Panko is much more noticeable in size and much more crispy, even after cooking. It creates a beautiful texture (including a hint of Parmesan cheese) in contrast with the squid and doesn’t leave an oily residue in your mouth. Unfortunately, it is served at Patente & Machin with a Tostitos-like tasting salsa and no lemon.
Saumon en deux temps
I was so disappointed by this Patente. One side tasted of old refrigerator smells and the other was overwhelmed by aniseed including too many slices of apple (would have taken more julienne-like portions instead of flat-out slices of the fruit). Was that yogurt or sour cream mixed in with the apples? Very disappointing.
Each plate is made à la commande, and therefore doesn’t sit under a heater. I didn’t have anything served cold, unless it was meant to be. My Machin of Gnocchi was served at a perfect temperature. It was accompanied by a collection of wild mushroom topped with a cooked-to-perfection shred of boar in a creamy, but otherwise saltless reduction. Pepper was necessary and not offered. But, once these two alterations made, the dish was appetizing. My palate looked forward to the next bite! The amount of food in my plate was perfect considering I had previously eaten an entrée.
A concept of wine-by-the-pound is offered where you pay for what you drink. The owners established this highly appreciated concept at sister-restaurant l’Affaire est Ketchup. Their selection of wine isn’t of private import, but diverse. I enjoyed a Sauvignon blanc, “Vecchie Scuole” Fattori that was rightly suggested for my main course.
In conclusion, the dishes that we tasted lacked salt, pepper and the oomph that makes you want to come back for more. Otherwise, the place is great for dinner with a group of friends where originality is in the napkins, pot Masson drinks and in the presentation of the menu. After three months of operation, a lot of things have changed on the menu and it deserves to be given more time and another visit. In the meantime, take some friends along to live the purpose of this lively, urban eatery.