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I’m about a month late for this, woops. But when you have a meal as unforgettable as the one Jaime and I had at Restaurant Matisse, it’s easy to do a review a little later than one planned.

This particular meal was meant to be extra-special to us. It was our three-year anniversary as a couple, and the first anniversary we were able to celebrate together, having been in a long-distance relationship before. We needed it to be perfect, and Restaurant Matisse did everything they could to make it the best anniversary thus far. Good food, good atmosphere, good wine, and yes, good company.

The restaurant is, as the name suggests, decorated French style, with Matisse paintings on the walls, a warm, cozy feeling to the place was complemented by the flowers on the table and in vases at strategic points, enhancing the mood without encroaching too much on the somewhat limited restaurant space. Our server was attentive and kind, recommending a good wine which we drank to the last drop (the second best wine I ever quaffed, with this one being absolute first) as well as some excellent specials. I was tempted by the daily rabbit dish, but ultimately opted to share a beef special for two with Jaime, because I have a deep seated love for red meat on the bone.

For an appetizer, I had the soup de jour, which was a nice French onion soup. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a French onion soup nut, and this one exceeded my expectations. Normally French onion soup is so cheesy that the diner requires the endurance of an oil drill to get through to the soup, but this one was unusually light on the cheese, making me appreciate the slightly sweet onion broth more. A bread basket accompanied our grazing, which never went empty due to our attentive server.

This restaurant understands that “butter soft” isn’t just a nice turn-of-phrase, and the butter was perfect for spreading, rather than the cold hard square I associate with bad dinner rolls on airplanes. I could have feasted on bread alone, but I’m glad I didn’t. The meat dish was a masterpiece, with the server doing us the extra favour of showing us how to tip the plate so that we could marinate our slices of beef in the pan drippings for a doubly juicy bite. It also came with an herb butter the colour and texture of wasabi paste, which put the beef dish in the same category as nectar and ambrosia for me, balancing the tender, meaty flavour with a creamy, refreshing note, almost like a lemon. More restaurants need to learn the awesome power of red meat on the bone, the bone adds a flavour like no other, and even though I was in such a sophisticated setting, I still picked up the bone (my server showed me how, since they lacked the special little tool for extracting marrow that I saw in many upscale Montana restaurants) and stripped it clean and white.

My friends who recommended this place for our anniversary dinner told me it would be a  criminal offence to come to Restaurant Matisse without ordering the creme brulee, so I obliged them. It turns out, this creme brulee has its own Matisse decoration to its name, with a spun sugar mini monument housing it, topped by a little thin wafer shaped like Icarus. I felt a little guilty destroying such a masterpiece, but it was tasty, so it felt hard to keep up the remorse after the third bite. With my dessert I had my very first ice wine, which is a Canadian speciality, and a delicious, uncommon treat ($15 a glass means it will be a rather *rare* treat, but the amount you get is just right, since it goes to your head quickly, it packs a punch) that finished off the evening for me with joy and warmth in my heart.

It was indeed, a perfect anniversary, thanks to the amount of attentive skill, love, and creativity which went into the food, atmosphere, and service of Restaurant Matisse. I love nothing more than seeing people who obviously love what they do performing their job with genuine skill and dedication. The price of $200 (tip included) seemed like a deal after what we got in terms of care and quality.

 

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