Laurea’s got game

Where Laurier BBQ and its short-lived Gordon Ramsay rebrand once stood, a new restaurant does it up modern.

Laurea Chicken
Chicken at Laurea

If thoughts of Laurea have you reminiscing about Laurier BBQ’s famed chicken and rustic décor of yesteryear, you’re in for a major surprise. But don’t worry — it’s a pretty great one overall.

The space’s latest reincarnation, following a brief rebrand as Laurier Gordon Ramsay and almost equally brief return as Laurier BBQ, feels sleek and homey thanks to a design overhaul that features a grey and neutral colour scheme with wood and brass accents.

Laurea Inside1
Interior redesign

With local celebrity chef Hakim Chajar in charge of revamping the menu, Laurea (a Latin variation of Laurier, meaning laurel tree) is now all about fine, elegant dining. Chajar, who has just been named the winner of this season’s culinary competition show Les Chefs!, has kept things simple and classic with a limited menu. But that’s not to say there aren’t enough staples to ensure that everyone at your table finds at least one dish to fall in love with.

Opting for the dining room rather than the outdoor patio, my foodie accomplice and I were escorted upstairs to a welcoming, airy space. The first thing to strike us was the impressive open kitchen filled with some serious action. Definitely grab a stool by the workspace if you can and watch the chefs doing their thing while you dine.


We were seated on mismatched chairs — a great touch, actually — and decided to leave the vegetarian dish and two fish choices for next time, instead ordering the chicken (how could we not?) and lamb.

Up first, though, was the hamachi served with plums, edamames and seaweed, which was delicate and refreshing and packed a serious punch in the flavour department.

Wanting to enjoy a beer with our main courses, we were rather surprised (and disappointed, to be totally honest) to discover that there are no local brews on tap, even though co-owners Eric Lefrancois and Cindy Simard (Simple Plan guitarist Jeff Stinco is also a partner) are responsible for the microbrewery Lorbeer next door.

After we settled for an import, the chicken (from Ferme Saint-Amour) and lamb arrived. Plated beautifully, they were also prepared almost perfectly. The chicken was moist and juicy, although I would have loved a bit more crispiness and bolder seasoning when it came to the skin.

Tarte au chocolat
Tarte au chocolat

The lamb was rare and tender, but it has to be said that the accompanying medley of wild mushrooms, grilled eggplant and red pepper was so totally delicious, it outshone the meat and was the true star of this dish.

We decided to give dessert a try and ordered the tarte au chocolat. It was divinely rich and creamy, and the accompanying orange-passion fruit jam elevated it to a whole other level. The scoop of Laurier ice cream on the side was a nice bonus and served to balance out the decadence of the pie — that’s how rich that pie was. And if you’re a coffee lover, trust me, grab a cappuccino to end an enjoyable meal on the perfect note. ■




381 Laurier W.

514-507-4997 (reservations are a must)