For a long time, I have been thinking about rekindling my connection to Africa. Despite the contrasting worlds that Madagascar and Montreal both played in my childhood, my heart has an unfailing memory for the simple life I lived in Africa. My distant home sometimes seems like an unfathomable mystery that is waiting to be rediscovered. And as the years go by, that desire only grows.
When I discovered that Le Velouté d’Antananarivo was one of Le Virunga‘s menu options, I was immediately intrigued by what more this restaurant had to offer. Having opened their doors only seven months ago, Le Virunga is already set to becoming Montreal’s leader in African cuisine. With a unique twist on Quebecois classics and traditional African dishes, Le Virunga truly embodies the meaning of a welcoming African gastronomic experience in the Plateau of Montreal. Upon entering the restaurant we were welcomed by Zoya, the vibrant manager and mastermind behind the concept of the restaurant. She and her mother, the head chef, form the dynamic duo that run the restaurant business. Her schedule is undoubtedly jam-packed, yet through all the chaos and restaurant fiasco still she found the time to explain all of the dishes to us and to share her African experiences. When she speaks, you instantly sense that this project is something she holds close to her heart.
The concept of Le Virunga is simple – to create an experience that would draw people into the the African continent, to communicate its uniqueness through flavour and to put across how much more there is to discover about Africa. We enjoyed a peaceful candlelight dinner surrounded by Sub Saharan African decor and paintings that adorned the walls. Kenyan music was playing and around us, people flocked and to take pictures of their food, eager to share their experience on social media and to speak to Zoya. It was truly inspirational.
When our meals arrived, we astonished by the art of its plating. Our meal consisted of Le Velouté d’Antananarivo, l’Exquise Québécoise (goat meat and goat’s cheese poutine), Sikadali du Sud (vegan dish) and the Ragout de Chèvre (goat stew). For dessert, we enjoyed a crème brûlée and a crêpe with pineapple coulis and vanilla ice cream. Between moments of meaningful conversation and oohing and aahing between bites, we lost track of time and stayed for hours. Although each of the dishes were equally packed with flavour, I do have to say that the dishes that left the most lasting impressions on my palette were the dishes with goat meat. Upon the first bite you can tell that there is something extremely unique about it. Much more tender than most meats, it is somewhat earthy and something you can tell would taste delicious even if it were completely unseasoned. The Velouté d’Antananarivo, another dish I was very excited to try instantly brought me back to my parents’ cooking, which often consisted of a blend of beans and other vegetables. The coconut milk added a touch of sweetness that perfectly contrasted with the spices in the soup. And of course, I can only describe the desserts as a delightful surprise.
Le Virunga is a must-visit, make it your next date night for sure! They are located at 851 Rue Rachel E, Montréal, QC H2J 2H9.
Sharing some snapshots below! 🙂
Hoping you’ll get to make this your next date night,
Come say hi on social!