Almost every larger city has them: Culinary schools, where students train for everything from waiter to Chef. But professional cooking and serving requires lots of hands-on practice. As a result almost all culinary schools offer terrific full-course meals for a fraction of restaurant prices in order to attract “guinea pigs” to practice upon.

Several friends have been raving about Le Saucier, the restaurant outlet for the English-language Pearson Adult and Career Centres school. Since my wife retired a couple of months ago, her new mission has been as our “adventure” scout, looking for interesting new things to do during the week in and about Montreal. Today was our first experience of Le Saucier’s offerings.

Prospective customers are warned early on not to expect the polish and efficiency of a professional restaurant; a lowering of expectations that is strangely relaxing. The dining room is abuzz with students; certainly much more staff than one would find in a for-profit place, which actually makes for some great service and wonderful attitude – the difference between wanting to be somewhere and having to be there! There were charming gaffes as well, like when our waiter brought my Belgian beer with a glass full of ice! Fortunately he hadn’t poured it yet.

The menu is a five course affair including amuse-guelle ( a tiny hors d’oeuvre), soup, appetizer, main course and desert and coffee. Some photos below. In a nutshell, the food was excellent, a nice version of French Nouvelle/California market style. And the value was unbeatable: Two people with wine and beer…$45 taxes in!!

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