Sutton's Bistro Beauxlieaux - Make Sure you Have a Reservation
By Manfried Helmuth Starhemberg
Christian Beauxlieux studied theater, has a beautiful rich singing voice, owns his own band and is arguably the best chef in Sutton, His Bistro Beauxlieux has, in the past 3 years, become a favorite eating place for many. While he calls it "just a local joint", his cuisine is refined, elegant, traditional French but with many twists and turns of creativity.
The chef is self taught and worked in kitchens for 26 years, starting as a sous chef at the storied Bal St. Louis on Prince Arthur street in Montreal, then at a variety of hotels in Montreal as chef de cuisine. What made him quit the theater? "I love food" he grins. It is my art, it is my passion. I also like to eat good. And Sutton? "We saw a nice old house advertised in the Sutton area, bought it and got hooked on the town". Unfortunately, after two years in residence while he rented the restaurant Mokador to impress his magic upon the locals, his house burnt down one night. After hassling with insurance companies, contractors and the other aspects of "starting over", his house is rebuilt, he sublet his lease of the Mokador restaurant and started his own bistro in October of 2007.
The restaurant is elegantly but tastefully appointed and can seat 45 at comfortable wooden tables plus a few more can be accomodated at the bar. There is even a wonderful 18th century grandfather clock in a corner and if it ever should go missing, tell the cops that it is possibly hidden in my home....Other accessories include a huge stuffed fish and an ancient but working Victrola "Talking Machine".
Chef Christian (47) loves to talk about his food. He buys his produce from the local vegetable emporium of Alban Houle, he carefully selects his meats, he will go to great lenghths to get the best fresh fish in Montreal himself and he has a young girl raising lambs for him. "This is the only way I can assure that the animal is fed only on the best natural grasses" he explains, "there are no hormones or grain or pellets or what have you in my food. I rather have someone raise my own stock than buy it from an unknown source". The same goes for his bread, it comes from the local bakery and he picks it up himself daily. Quebec cheeses abound and chicken are locally raised for him.
This attention to quality has Suttonites scrambling for the phone to make reservations. The "joint" is only open from Thursday to Sunday, beginning at 5pm, yet Christian has 15 people on the payroll. "Their hours vary and overlap as the need requires" but this flexibility allows me to be fully staffed at all times". Speaking to some of the employees, they enjoy the work, the creativity and the ability to structure their time to the demands of the business. A week ago, I overheard a conversation among two of my friends where one asked the other if he could possibly swap him his Friday reservation for four for his own Sunday reservation. Happily the swap was made and eventually all eight of my friends dined well.
I see no need to get on about the menu, it varies with the season but it is all good, from the home made Quebec cheese ravioli to the French Salmon tartare or the Black Angus burger to a Quebec lamb shank, braised with honey, coriander, saffron and yoghurt, the most expensive item on the menu at $ 23.95. For about $ 20.- anyone can enjoy a superb entree here and wine is available by the glass or bottle. Christian has a very eclectic international wine cellar and prides himself in the diversity of his offerings. The staff is also well trained to aid in the selection of wines. Scrumptious deserts are all made in-house, as are sauces, ice creams and the bistro even offers a fine variety of hot and cold tisanes, alcoholic coffes and hot chocolate made from chocolate obtained at Sutton's storied "Chocolate Belge".
The busiest time for the restaurant are the three warm months of Summer. "With all the cyclists, summer tourists enjoying the hiking trails and the various festivals and art shows happening, the place is booked every night" explains Christian. "I do more business in those three months than in winter". This is interesting since Sutton is more known for the ski hill than any other venue but apparently the skiers eat at their own chalets and entertain guests rather than frequent local restaurants when in town.
However, it is still best to best to make a reservation because just last night, Thursday, March 10, I might have been able to get a beer at the bar and a cup of soup but the tables were occupied by a lot of happy campers who had made their reservations well in advanve.