Cabane À Sucre Au Pied de Cochon – Harvest Season 2015

28 Sep

It’s that time of the year again – another season at the Cabane à Sucre Au Pied de Cochon. After the disappointment of not getting a spot for this year’s sugar season – thanks website outage! – I made sure that this would 5 out of 6. Going more than a year being visits seemed unfathomable. Thankfully, things were worked out and I set out with another table of 12 friends ready to set what Martin Picard and company had set for us.

For the uninitiated, the sugar shack is a set menu for the season – alcohol and tip excluded. This season being harvest season, the focus is on ingredients from the garden here as well as the local producers around the area. Each season, this is a collection of specialty cocktails. This time around, the focus was on gin – as our waitress noted that the PDC has a gin coming to stores soon! There was a solid gin and tonic, a Gin-nette – gin with spruce beer, a blueberry mojito and a house ginger ale and rye whiskey served with strawberries.

Food-wise, first up was a series of 6 starters dishes to enjoy. The initial one was a cold melon soup with a mix of garden vegetables and fresh herbs served over top. I hate melon…. but loved this dish. Silky smooth and surprisedly spicy. A very refined and subtle dish. Paired with the soup was some housemade bread lathered with butter and slices of house cured ham.

Then came the necessary PDC foie gras dish – Poached pears with aged cheddar and pan seared foie gras. A wonderful combination of richness and sweetness. My girlfriend’s lack of interest in foie gras provided me with an extra serving so a nice win for me.

That was followed by gnocchi served with sweat peas, ricotta, bacon and garlic pesto. I really loved this dish – the gnocchi were great, the pesto gave this dish a strong garlic flavour but the addition of the creamy ricotta and the bacon helped to dull it somewhat. The sauce itself was perhaps more liquid than some will enjoy but the flavours were outstanding.

The next dish was the miss of the night for the entire table – a whole sturgeon poached in a potato and leak sauce served with mussels. The sauce itself was great as were the mussel. However, the sturgeon, for us, was overcooked. The flakiness of the fish was completely gone.

Back to positive however with the next one – homemade tagliatelle pasta served with a fresh vegetable sauce made with garden eggplants and tomatoes as well as coins of sausage. The dish was prepared in front of us as the pasta was mixed in a hollowed parmesan wheel to add some cheese. A very fresh and surprisedly light pasta dish – which was a nice contrast to the more fatty and rich gnocchi dish. This wasn’t a hit for everyone at the table but I enjoyed it personally.

The last starter was a margarita pizza made using baguette bread dough and topped with a mornay sauce, fresh garden tomatoes, garlic chips, basil and parmesan. The whole thing was cooked on charcoal. A solid pizza overall – slice crunch to the crust although I’m not sure exactly what the use of baguette bread dough did to make a difference compared to standard pizza dough. The mornay sauce provided some creamy richness to the classic fresh margarita.

After a brief moment to digest, we were served the main course – A DIY pot-au-feu. We were a provided a large meat platter, some condiments, vegetables and thermos of broth with which to make our individual plates. The meat platter, in keeping the ethos of Pied de Cochon, was huge and quite varied. It included duck confit, smoked BBQ beef ribs, steamed pork belly, white blood sausage, bone marrow, pork filet, pig’s foot, a cornish hen and smoked bison tongue. The condiments included a mushroom sauce, salsa verde, dijon, radishes and pickles. The stars here were the meats and they were glorious. Particular note to the smoked meat like consistency of the bison tongue, the fatty bone marrow and rich pig’s foot.

After that orgy of meaty goodness, we were ready for desserts. First, we received an palate cleanser of vanilla and apple soft serve swirl ice cream with a good amount of Calvados in the middle. Then, it was on to a foursome of options.

There was peaches served in mead and with cubes of raspberry jelly; a prune clafoutis; crème fraiche ice cream and a raspberry tiramisu, presented as a potted plant, complete with a shower of poured coffee. Point for originality of presentation for the tiramisu however, personally as I hate coffee, this dish was a non-starter for me. The clafoutis was a great hit for me. The ice cream was nice and creamy and the peaches provided some nice sweetness.

All in all, another great meal at the Cabane. I admit that compared to previous experiences, this one didn’t wow me as much – most dishes were solid, not the spectacular we often expect with Martin Picard and Co. The fact that two dishes didn’t work for me was also a first…. As a first experience, I can imagine people still being blown away. The amount of food one gets for the price is still great. However, for someone like myself who has been 5 out of the past 6 seasons, the standards set by the PDC crew makes this one seem a little less exciting. I’ll still be at the computer at midnight December 1st for sugar season though – I hooked and can’t imagine missing the next hopeful surprise from this crew.


Cabane à Sucre Au Pied du Cochon
11382 rang de la Fresnière
St-Benoit, Qc

Cabane à sucre Au Pied de Cochon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


26 Sep

Let’s be honest: Pizza by the slice joints usually suck. Outside of being a quick option after a late night out and needing some grease to sober up, the quality of pizza in these establishments generally leaves to be desired which is too bad because the concept is a worthy and useful one. Being able to grab a great quick slice of pizza while walking around is a great addition to one’s neighbourhood. Over the past few months, there was indications that within St-Henri, a pizzeria was coming and bringing by-the-slice with it. On its own, not necessarily that exciting but when I heard that Tony Campanelli, owner of the wonderful cafe/store of the same name, was doing it…. well now you have my attention. Adamo opened up a couple of weeks ago so I passed by a couple of times to see how the pizza stacks up.



Adamo is a pretty simple place – a walk-up counter with drinks and pizzas ready to grab, a little bar to eat at there if you wish and the open kitchen behind for all to see the magic at work. The boxes of tomatoes and bags of flour add a nice rustic touch in the front of the room and the addition of the TV and the foosball table make the space have a more communal feel despite the lack of seating space. The pizzeria already feels like part of the St-Henri community after only a few weeks. Part of that is Tony’s presence. Every time I have been, the place is busy and people are chatting with Tony and the rest of his friendly staff. You always get a nice hello and small talk from the staff. You don’t feel like you just need to order and get out as fast as possible. That is greatly appreciated.




Pizza-wise, Adamo does what you would call New York-style pizza – as thin as possible and not too overloaded with ingredients. The individual slices are huge – the kind of slices that you fold in half to properly eat with one hand. The key there however is that despite being folded in half, the pizza holds up on its own, no limp crust here. Adamo nails that perfectly so far. The crust isn’t too tight either which is nice. At the moment, there are 3 options – Mozzarella, Pepperoni and Basil – with one Pesto special available at times. Having tried all four, they are all solid. The base tomato sauce has a nice tang to it, the pepperoni has a nice kick, the cheeses are all gooey and plentiful and the pesto was very fresh. My one complaint would be that the basil pizza didn’t really have enough basil on it.





Adamo is the best by-the-slice joint you can find in Montreal right now. Tony and company do it right all the way around so far and add to what is a great strip of Notre-Dame in St-Henri just by the Park. I needed a good pizza place not too far away from my new place…. and Adamo will do very nicely thank you.


4629 Notre Dame Ouest

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Le Bon Vivant (Brunch Edition)

15 Sep Huevos Rancheros - in the cast iron skillet with papas bravas, chorizo, avocados, chipotle salsa and corn tortillas

Brunch is a pretty big thing all around Montreal nowadays. The number of great restaurants open for brunch on top of their usual dinner service is quite astounding and has truly elevated what we consider good brunch. I am rather fond of the weekend brunch and have tried many of the best this city has to offer. The downside there however is that I have stuck to my usual spots recently and stopped trying new options. Recently, with my move to the Point, my usual brunch places – mostly in Mile End and the Plateau – are a little further away. As such, I am curious about the options I have nearby. First up on the list was a relatively new place just a short walk away that had peaked my interest based on some of my internet friends – Le Bon Vivant.


Located a stone’s throw away from the Atwater Market, Le Bon Vivant is a small room – probably about 40-50 seats – with a look I just adore. Very industrial with the exposed ceiling struts, the use of old lighting fixture and lightbulbs, the metallic shelving by the entrance and the open kitchen in the middle of the space. However, the use of cream leather banquettes, the magnetic boards for the daily specials, the white wooden bar and the great vacation-like tropical music that played during brunch bring some nice coziness and family warmth to the space. I really like the vibe I got coming in both times – yeah my girlfriend and I came twice over a month or so. Kinda gives you an idea of this post before you get to the end, right?


Le Bon Vivant offers a variety of drink options including cocktails which change regularly. They also have Beau’s beer by the bottle which as a huge Beau’s fan is an extra point in their favour from me. On the first visit, I went with the Mookie – Bourbon, raspberry and mint. A light summer play on an old fashioned. The mint and raspberries freshened up the bourbon without overpowering it. Sweet but nicely balanced overall. The second time around, I went with the Caipirinha – Cachaca (an sweeter Brazilian rum) and lime juice. Very strong lime flavour which helped to dull the edge off the rum a bit but I didn’t find it as sweet as I expected.


First up food wise, we had the homemade almond milk and ricotta bircher with fresh fruits, nuts and wine cinnamon cardamon poached pears. A light and fluffy dish with tons of sweetness. The use of ricotta made the bircher pretty rich but not overbearing. The care shown in making the poached pears brought some nice contrast to the bircher. There was a very strong cinnamon and wine favour to the pear. The one negative here was that there was only one pear. A couple would have been nice.

Next was some Huevos Rancheros in a cast iron skillet with papas bravas, chorizo, avocados, chipotle salsa and corn tortillas. I would have liked a slightly larger portion but within that context, there was still plenty of nicely sized pieces of both sausage and potatoes. The salsa over the top brought some freshness with just the right touch of spice. The whole thing was covered by plenty of cheesy goodness to blend it all together. Having proper grilled corn tortillas was great as well.

The second time around, I couldn’t help but order the roast beef poutine served with their BV sauce and homemade smoked beef brisket. In this case, portion size was perfect – a very filling dish. The smokiness and meaty goodness that was that brisket really hit the point. The BV sauce was thicker than your usual gravy and there wasn’t as much used compared to a regular poutine. It made all the elements blend together better without having a liquid mess at the bottom of the dish. The fries were crunchy and the cheese squeaked – so we were all good in terms of a proper poutine.


The final dish we tried was a special the second day we were there – a parmesan polenta served with Italian sausage and grilled pita. The polenta was smooth and creamy in the inclusion of the cheese. The fatty and spicy sausage added some nice bit to the plate. The grilled pitas were the perfect vessels to pick the bowl clean. You wouldn’t think from the picture that the dish was big enough but it was perfectly filling for my girlfriend.


My two experiences at Le Bon Vivant have told me that I definitely have an great brunch place close by now and secondly that I will need to come for dinner very very soon. It is nice to know that I can walk to a place from now on.


Le Bon Vivant
2705 Notre Dame Ouest
514 316 4585

Le Bon Vivant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Taverne Sur Le Square

13 Sep

With the rapid succession of new restaurants that open in Montreal, it is sometimes very easy to focus on the new stuff without considering some older more established spots. Just because they aren’t new doesn’t mean they aren’t worth visiting. I was reminding of this a few weeks ago when I met up with my girlfriend and some of her co-workers for a post-work dinner at Westmount Square and more specifically at Taverne Sur Le Square, a place I had never been to before somehow.


The second of chef Stephen Leslie’s three restaurants – after Monkland Taverne and before Le Sieur d’Iberville – Taverne Sur Le Square called itself comfort food with international twist. The space is one befitting its place in Westmount Square – one of our city’s architectural beauties. The open room is warm and welcoming while keeping that touch of refinement. We chose to sit outside on the terrasse gently lit by patio lights strung across the space. Because of the risk of rain that evening, we were pretty much alone out there – one should never turn down some terrasse time especially with how short terrasse season is for us but I digress….




Looking at the menu, I decided to go with the table d’hôte whereas my girlfriend went with a couple of starters for a lighter dinner. My selection of the table d’hôte gave me a salad to start – very simple and served with roasted seeds over top. The roasted flavour of the seeds was a nice touch. The portion was very generous as well – very uncommon as a table d’hôte starter.


My girlfriend’s first starter, the salmon tacos with Pico de gallo and avocado, was a slight miss. Loved the soft tortillas and the creamy avocado and the fish was fresh but it felt bland. The pico de gallo didn’t have much punch to it and the portion felt a little small even as an entree.


The second starter was more along the right track – Grilled octopus with chickpeas and red pepper puree, sauce vierge, parsley and red onion. The octopus was plentiful and grilled nicely with just a bit of char to it. The puree was nice and creamy and the sauce vierge paired nicely with the whole thing.


As a main, I decided to go with the soft shell crab served in a bun with remoulade, tomato, pickle, lettuce and tavern sauce. This item was the reason I went with the table d’hôte for a change. The soft shell crab was plentiful and had a great crunch. Add some fresh veggies, a creamy sauce all put between a great soft bun and you had an awesome sandwich to enjoy. Plus, it was served with a nice of wonderfully crunchy fries to enjoy. Goodness all around.



The last I got to try was their creme brûlée – always a sucker for a creme brûlée and a little sweetness to finish off a meal. A very solid creme – nice caramelization on the top with a richness and creaminess underneath.


Despite a couple of neutral or slight misses, my first experience at Taverne Sur Le Square was a solid one. You can see how this restaurant has survived being in the relatively dead zone restaurant wise for over 14 years now. A place where you can grab a quick bite and drink after work or have a nice refined dinner for a special occasion. Taverne on the Square isn’t perhaps on the forefront of the “Hot” restaurants in Montreal but if you willing to deviate from the current trend and try a classic, you may wonder why it’s not on that list to begin with.


Tavern on the Square
1 Westmount Sq Ste
514 989 9779

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Deli Sokolow

7 Sep

There is just something about a Jewish-style deli that I really enjoy. Given my lack of Jewish ancestry, it is not simply a function of what I grew up with because I didn’t. There is simply something about the homeyness, the familiarity, the old school nature of a deli that I love… well that and the smoked meat of course. Leaving my place on Prince Arthur meant no longer being walking or short bike distance from Schwartz’s and the Mile End. Not cool when I need my fix. However, when I heard about a new deli opening in St-Henri, only a short distance away from my new place, I was immediately intrigued and felt the need to give them a try.


Deli Sokolow is a deli and ice cream shop offering day around options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Located right on the corner of Notre Dame Ouest and Sainte-Marguerite, the shop definitely is going for a old Deli feel with its use of old school chairs, glass counters, laminate tabletops as well as a metal bar and stools by the window. The decor could use a bit extra pop to it colorwise but otherwise it is a old deli through and through.



For my first visit, I went with a mixture of classic and twisted fare. First was a side of coleslaw – traditional with a vinegar base. And of course, I needed to have a root beer at a deli. Exactly what I wanted. Nothing more and nothing less.



The interesting item though was the latke poutine. Yeah that’s right…. a latke poutine. When I heard about this, I knew I needed to try it. I love latkes – once I tried some proper homemade ones years ago, I was hooked – and I most certainly love poutine. I was very curious to see how this would stack up. The portion was generous enough and had a nice thick homestyle gravy and the proper cheese curds. However, the use of large thinner latkes as a base made it that they got stuck together since they were very hot. First time I have ever needed to use a knife when eating a poutine. Right flavours but perhaps not served in the ideal fashion.


For my second visit, I went a bit of more classic. I decided to start with some perogies – potato and cheese stuffed – served with some sour cream. Good flavour as one would expect. Thankfully, they also had a golden crunch all the way around. There is nothing worse than a soft soggy perogy.


The Reuben sandwich was my main attraction this time and hit all the right notes – the melted cheese, the acidic sauerkraut and deliciously rich and fatty smoked meat. Personally I would prefer the smoked meat to be medium cut versus lean but that would be a bit of a nitpick in this instance. A solid solid sandwich and frankly one of the better Reuben’s I’ve had.


And of course, you can’t forget about the ice cream. Being able to get classic hard serve cookie dough ice cream in a cone was a nice trip to memory lane for me and a nice way to finish off a meal.


Deli Sokolow is a solid deli option and in an area lacking one, a very worthwhile option. The mixture of new and old items is good and you feel the classic Deli vibe. I would recommend however they get other payments options though – cash only so be prepared for that. My first visit was delayed by that… not cool walking by your lunch option realizing it’s a no go. Otherwise, a solid joint and thankfully close enough to satisfy my deli fix.


Deli Sokolow
4350 Notre Dame Ouest
438 392 3239

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30 Aug

All throughout 2014, I kept hearing and reading great things about a new restaurant in the relatively obscure Mile-Ex neighbourhood – at least from a food perspective. A place that was doing some unique things in terms of local foraging and doing it in a cool setting. All of this talk made restaurant Manitoba one of the hit newcomers in 2014 and a place I dearly wanted to try out. After many months, I finally decided that I really needed to go before the summer was over so I made it a date night and brought my girlfriend along for what I hoped would a great experience for both me and her of course.




Located in the old industrial neighbourhood of Mile-Ex – stuck in the middle of Little Italy and Parc Extension, Manitoba is very unassuming as you approach – simply a wood terrasse in front of a simple door and window. Once you enter, it is truly a space in keeping with its neighbourhood and its approach of food – Industrial and clean but with touches of nature. A gorgeous bar along the left side of the room all the way to the open kitchen. The use of wood trunks on the ceiling with the light coming through them. The all-black wall and blackboard menu. The back garden and terrasse space with patio lights all a-glow. The vibe is hip and cool.






Service is attentive and friendly. It is surprising how I froze up at simply being asked if I’d had a nice day – not exactly what you expect from your waiter. Even the chefs were chatty and friendly as one of the sous-chef kindly answered our questions about some of the plants and herbs they use that we didn’t know too well. We did have a bit of an issue with the service of our cocktails – way too long between the order and arrival of them – but otherwise great all around from the staff.



After a quick discussion with our waiter, we decided to start with the deer heart gravlax served with cauliflower puree, corn, sunflower seeds, labrador tea oil and stonecrop. What an awesome way to start a meal. The rich gaminess of the deer heart was not lost in the gravlax process. Add the creaminess of the puree, the sweetness of the corn and the little crunch from the seeds and this was a great balanced dish.


As a main dish, my girlfriend opted for the scallops from iles-de-la-madeleine served with lobster mushrooms, salicornia, green pea puree and emulsion. The scallops were nicely sized and wonderfully fresh with a beautiful sear all around. The beautiful lobster mushrooms brought a nice contrast to that freshness with their earthy tones. I was also very intrigued about the green pea puree and emulsion. An interesting bite of technique that maintained a strong pea flavour. Very good all around.


In my case, I decided to order something I had never had before: Maple brulé bone marrow served with chokeberry, maïtake, swiss chard and toast. From my vantage point watching the chefs use a blowtorch to burn the maple sugar made me pine for this dish pretty quickly. Bone marrow was something I suspected I would enjoy and yeah… turns out I was right. Definitely won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but dear god did I love this. Rich and fatty with a great sweetness and crunch from the maple syrup, I could have had many many more. The chokeberry mixture on top added some tartness and then add in some wonderful toast to put the whole mixture on top of…. just wonderful. Simply wonderful. In my mind, a must-try if it’s on the menu.


After those great dishes, we were then left to decide on dessert. We ended up going with both options of the evening. First was a honey, indian celery and black walnut cookie served with raspberry ice cream and lichen dipped in chocolate. The cookie had a nice crunch with subtle hint of both the honey and the walnuts. The ice cream was smooth and flavourful and the use of lichen was an interesting component to bring forth.


The second dish was a spruce panna cotta with candied pumpkin seeds and wild blueberries. This was a very cool surprise. The texture you expect from panna cotta – rich and smooth – but the true surprise was just how strong the spruce came through. The combination of blueberry and pumpkin seeds were a nice pairing here as well. A strong finish.


Manitoba was what a had hoped for – a great unique mixture of dishes in a cool looking and feeling restaurant. As we sat outside in the back garden with a glass of wine partway through our meal, I thought to myself “Yeah this is pretty great”. Pretty much says it all.


271 St Zotique Ouest
514 270 8000

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25 Jul

Izakayas or Japanese-style pubs have becoming very popular in and around Montreal over the past year or so. Previously, there was Imadake and…. well no others really. Now, each neighbourhood seems to have one and more are soon the way. Through a friend’s birthday gathering, I found myself at Kinoya along St-Denis curious to see if this particular Izakaya holds up to my previous experiences itself in the city and elsewhere.

Walking into the wooden hut/grotto Kinoya has structured within the standard plateau storefront, the restaurant definitely has a unique visual appearance compared to many of the new Japanese pubs in town. They do have the classic “salute” from the staff when you walk in – which I’ve always loved despite the awkwardness that it can create for the uninitiated. Also, it is rather weird to be saluted in Japanese by an entire French Canadian staff I must admit but I digress….. The space is nice overall however the low ceilings created by the grotto look creates more cacophony than is ideal.

We were at a pub after all so a drink is a must. Given the presence of some speciality cocktails on the menu, we decided to try a couple. First was the Zen – Sake, Midori and Lychee Juice. Very strong on the Lychee side of things which worked for my girlfriend but not so much for me.

My choice was the Gingin – Gin, Ginger Ale, Fresh Ginger Juice And Soda. Once again, the non-alcoholic components overpowered the alcohol. I enjoy ginger but not on the level that this drink brought forth. A totally miss on my end here.

Given the nature of an Izakaya, over the course of the evening, we ordered a much of plates in no particular order. The key is that process is that service is spot-on and the dishes come quickly which is exactly what occurred. First up, I can never say no to a nice bowl of salty edamame.

The Tako Kimchi or octopus and cucumber with spicy kimchi sauce was less successful. The spicy kimchi was good but the octopus was a little chewy and frankly the portion was much too small given the price of the dish. The plate could barely be shared by 2 people. I know an Izayaka is all about small plates but this was pushing it a little too far.

The Kamo Carpaccio – seared duck breast carpaccio with spicy tahini sauce – was a better success. The rich fatty duck was sliced thinly and paired well with the sauce although it wasn’t as spicy was perhaps I would have expected.

I couldn’t help ordered some Gyoza – pan-fried Japanese dumplings – as well. The dumplings were okay nothing more sadly. The filling was nice and meaty but I wanted them a little more fried up and the sauce was unremarkable.

The big hit was the Ikayaki – squid marinated in sake and grilled with shichimi spice and mayo. The squid was beautifully tender and grilled nicely although the sake marinate really wasn’t noticeable flavour-wise. The spicy mayo provided a nice kick and a good pairing to the squid.

I also wanted to try the Kara-Age – Japanese style fried chicken marinated in fresh ginger and soya sauce. Very enjoyable on my end. Great crunch to the chicken while still keeping the meat tender and juicy. Again, the marinade wasn’t noticeable flavour-wise but it was good regardless.

Lastly, I felt the need for a dessert so I went with the Anmitsu – mochi pearls in red bean sauce with ice cream and matcha. A very nice dessert – I love red bean sauce and matcha with vanilla ice cream matched well with that sauce. A great way to end the meal.

Kinoya was a good experience but not a memorable one. Some dishes were hits. Others were disappointments. With an Izayaka, the ambience is very important but if the dishes don’t hit consistently, it is hard to be a memorable night regardless of the rest. Kinoya goes into the mix of all of the other Japanese pubs in town but doesn’t elevate above the fray to be one of the best.


4250 Saint Denis
514 508 5200

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29 Jun

Moving away from the Main as I have recently have led me to think about all the great restaurants up and down the Main that I have enjoyed over my 9 years a short walk away… The only disappointment to my new location is I now have to bike or drive to them all! Despite my best attempts, there were also a few spots that I never got to in my time so close by.. luckily a beautiful Sunday evening recently allowed me to cross another one off the list, Majestique.

Located in an old Lester’s deli, owned by the Holder brothers and with the menu designed by the former Chef-de-Cuisine at Toque, Charles-Antoine Crète, Majestique recently has an interesting pedigree within the Montreal restaurant scene. The vibe is very casual but the menu and cocktails speak to a certain level of refinement. Looking at the menu, it’s an interesting mix of dishes but one that really doesn’t fit any true designation. Given the beautiful day, we requested a table on their small terrasse but as there would be a slight wait, we started our evening inside in a room that is probably best described as hipster deli/chalet. The old deli is still clearly visible but just covered in an insane amount of knickknacks ranging from sports pinnies to bowling pins and coke bottles. The look is not from everyone but I really enjoyed it.

As we waited for our table outside, I went with the SPF 45 cocktail – White Barbancourt rum, lime juice, kaffir lime syrup and dashfire chinese bitters. A surprisingly mild cocktail where the lime really comes through. A solid summer terrasse drink.

Very shortly after, we sat down on the terrasse and ordered some oysters to start because my girlfriend had never had some raw before and because why not? Served with a classic mignonette and a very interesting apple cider mignonette, these oysters were beautiful and fresh. As always, more could have been ordered but with the rest of the food ordered, we held off to save some room.

The first of our entrees came up next. First was the tostada topped with sushi rice, avocado and nori. What a lovely dish! The tostada in this case was using rice paper which had a light and fluffy texture. The combination of creamy avocado, sticky rice, the nori and a spicy mayo worked very nicely on top.

The next dish was whelk served with herb butter and fried bread, so sea snails served like traditional snails but with a twist. The herb butter was a great discovery on my end – didn’t overpower the natural fattiness of the whelk like traditional garlic butter but still brought a subtle adjustment to the flavour. The whelk has delicious and the fried bread added a bit of crunch to the combination.

Then came the squid salad with cherry tomatoes, pancetta and fava beans. Such beautiful squid – so rich and tender. Paired simply with the fresh veggies and herbs, the squid is so good that frankly it could have been the only thing on the plate and I would still love the dish!

A dish that definitely surprised was the burnt salmon confit served with an apple and almond salad. I really didn’t know what to expect from salmon confit and the answer was a ridiculously soft texture. It may perhaps be seen as too soft, almost mushy to some people but we really dug it. The salad was very non-descript and honestly just felt like filler on the plate.

We couldn’t say no to a side-order of fries and those came through nicely as well. Good sized with a nice crunch and already salted, they paired very well with our final main dish – the foot-long Nordic shrimp roll. Best dish all night and it’s not that close despite the positives I stated of the previous plates. Great flavourful shrimp filling in an insane toasted brioche-like hot dog bun. Best hot dog bum I’ve ever had without a shadow of a doubt. Knowing what this ended up being, I would have skipped one of the previous dishes to order another just for myself. So so good…

For dessert, we had two options available to us – sucre à la creme and cheesecake with rhubarb. The sucre à la creme was small in portion but oh so good. Dangerous little sugar packages. The cheesecake was nice and creamy with a nice rhubarb jelly over top. Solid sweet options to end our meal.

Majestique was quite a nice meal from beginning to end. Solid cocktails, great technique and execution throughout the meal. The overall menu left me somewhat baffled in terms of how one describes this place. Regardless, the quality of the food and the fact that the kitchen is open late nights makes this a great option for a late bite along the Main. Majestic is just another sign that the heart of the Main food wise continues to work its way northward and now I have another reason to re-visit my old neighbourhood.


4105 Saint Laurent
514 439 1850

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Tuck Shop

7 Jun

About 5 years ago now, I read a review from Lesley Chesterman in the Montreal Gazette about a restaurant in St-Henri – a neighbourhood I knew nothing about – called Tuck Shop. Everything about what she wrote about the restaurant – from the food to the decor to the music even – peaked my interest and I made a note of it. Fast forward to now – I have moved to Pointe St-Charles and have spent tons of time in St-Henri visiting all the great new restaurants and spots that have popped up…. except for Tuck Shop. The one initial reason I even knew about the neighbourhood. Well that needed to change. Taking advantage of a rare evening free for both myself and my girlfriend, I set up a last minute dinner date to finally see if Tuck Shop was worthy of its high spot on my to-visit list.

Relatively nondescript when you walk by, Tuck Shop is a 40-ish seat place with a great mixture of hardwood floors, white brick tiles and wooden walls. The open kitchen in the back creates a more dynamic feel to the space and I love the granite countertop bar in the middle of the room. The room is adored with mason jars filled with marinades and sauces which provide a homey touch. The music the entire night was right up my alley and kept me humming along the whole meal – from CCR to Grease to Steve Miller Band. Noise level was moderately high – you could still have a conversation but not in a hush tone. Service was punctual and on point – I particularly enjoyed when we received our menus and were recommended to try a cocktail…. especially since the server in question was the one who made them. And in fact, the menu said cocktails by Seabass. Loved the friendly and fun way that was done. The entire team all night brought the same energy and vibe. Well done.

After being sold by Seabass, I couldn’t say no to one of his cocktails. I went with the Maple Rhubarb – Brandy, maple syrup, mint, lemon and rhubarb bitters. The rhubarb taste was subtle but there. The overall drink was sweet enough that my girlfriend enjoyed it but balanced enough that I could taste the brandy and not feel I was being stiffed. An solid starter.

We decided to share an appetizer and went for the Florida soft shell crab with green papaya, coloured carrots, cucumber, radish, coriander, chili, peanuts and kaffir lime mayonnaise. A wonderfully light but flavourful dish. The crab was beautifully rich and tender with the outer crust providing a bit of crunch. The green papaya salad underneath provided some sweetness and a bit of heat which could be countered by the lime mayonnaise. A beautiful dish throughout.

The first of our mains was the fish of the day – in this case, salmon – with herbed ricotta gnocchi, morels, fiddleheads, fava beans, carrots, Tokyo turnips, sorrel, daylillies, salsa verde and root vegetable puree. The fish was beautiful but the star here was the herbed ricotta gnocchi – rich and fluffy delights. The inherent earthiness of the fiddleheads, morels and fav bears were an interesting pairing with the creaminess of the puree and the fresh kick from the salsa verde. Enjoyable all around.

Our second main was the Cornish Hen with Littleneck clams, homemade chorizo, fennel, white beans, kale, coriander, chili, charred onion puree and tomatillo. I simply loved this dish! So much going on but oh so good…. The chorizo was the driving force flavour-wise – spicy almost to the point of overwhelming the palate but it didn’t. The hen was juicy and crisp on the outside. The underlying clams and white beans helped to dull the chorizo as did the sweetness of the puree. The jalapeño added even more hotness if you were so inclined.

With a bit of room left, we went for the brownie with noix de Grenoble and homemade vanilla bean ice cream. Loved the ice cream – great rich vanilla taste however the texture of the brownie was a bit too dry for my preference.

Outside of the minor quibble at dessert, Tuck Shop was exactly what I had hoped it would be even all the years later – A beautifully relaxed atmosphere serving kickass refined comfort market driven food. My biggest disappointment is that I waited so long to eat there. Believe me, that will not happen again. It’s great to see such an awesome spot holding down in St-Henri for this long now. There were one of the first here. Here’s hoping they continue to do so for many years longer.


Tuck Shop
4662 Notre Dame Ouest
514 439 7432

Tuck Shop on Urbanspoon

Maison June Rose

31 May

When ones hears of All-You-Can-Eat Chinese, you tend to automatically think about dingy looking places in strip malls where everything is fried, the tables are covered in plastic and plenty of little kids are screaming about. Not the most enjoyable experience for sure. Well, the people who brought us Big in Japan last year ventured into this space with the opening of Maison June Rose just around the corner from their restaurant. Being a fan of Big of Japan, I could not help to be intrigued by June Rose and how exactly they would do All-You-Can-Eat.

First thing, this space is just beautiful. A beautiful ornate wall welcomes you when you walk in and then your eyes focus on all the lanterns above you. About 75 or so from my rough count which provide nice diffuse lighting to go with the candles in the booths around the edge of the room or on the larger U-shaped counter in the center of the room. And while the look is certainly old school Chinese, the sound certainly is not. A mixture of classic oldies from the Beatles to Steve Miller Band to the Four Tops played throughout the evening. Certainly a winner for me and likely most of the patrons who come here off of the Main late night. Service was quick and attentive as well.

The format at Maison June Rose is pretty simple – 25$ per person for the All-You-Can-Eat menu. Extra for alcohol and desserts. The menu consists of 18 items which the staff recommends you order in group of 2-3 at a time. The portions are Tapas-size so pretty small but the service is quick so you can have a steady stream of dishes coming to you without too much difficulty. Which is what we did as we ordered every item on the menu safe for the marinated vegetables… just didn’t feel like them for some reason. Looking at the dishes, you will notice that most of the items are definitely not of the classic “Chinese” variety that most of us are used to and also the plating is pretty nice for what is an All-You-Can-Eat place. Definitely not the kind of attention to detail you would expect.

We were first presented with an amuse-bouche of prosciutto with pear and pickles. A nice combo of fat, sweetness and saltiness.

The chilled Won Ton soup was an interesting idea for the season – a warm pork ravioli in a cold broth. Nicely sized and fully stuffed with pork, I loved the ravioli. The cold broth was okay. The right flavours but the temperature change didn’t work for me.

The scrapple Imperial rolls were served with a roasted peppercorn vinegar. One of the big hits for us – a nice crunch on the rolls and meaty goodness inside. I also really enjoyed the dipping sauce – a cool mixture of pepper and acidity that added an interesting component.

The duck rillettes were okay. Nothing that special and frankly the use of jalapeño overpowered the fatty duck. The use of a very large rice pancake also made it impossible to eat in a single bite which seemed to be the point in the first place.

The BBQ Char Siu pork was served with hoisin sauce. Thinly sliced, I enjoyed the flavour of the pork but the hoisin sauce was way too sweet to be used more than once in my case.

Our first vegetable dish was the Wok-fried Chinese broccoli. Perfect texture to the broccoli as the leaves were wilted while the stems stayed a bit crisp.

The mustard greens were exactly as one would expect – strong mustard-like taste but cooked down enough to have a softer texture.

The braised eggplant and pork was another favourite. Nice soft but slightly firm texture to the eggplant although the pork was only crumbs in the sauce which was not what we expected when it arrived. Larger pieces of pork would have been nice.

The salt and pepper tofu was a real surprise. I hate tofu. My girlfriend as well. Neither one of us could believe how this preparation gave the tofu a nice crispy exterior while the interior was soft but not the mushy kind we both despise. Served on some wilted fried spinach, this was the surprise hit of the night.

The salt and pepper smelts were essentially the same preparation as the tofu but with fish. That gave this dish more saltiness and fattiness than the tofu. The additions of some cooked onions provided some sweetness to offset.

The Kung Pao chicken had strong flavour although a touch too sweet perhaps. The fried texture was perfect as well although the fact that they were small bones to contend with, despite having been warned by the waitress in advance, made this less enjoyable to deal with.

The black vinegar cloud ear mushrooms were very vinegary in flavour which I enjoyed however texture wise, the addition of the egg folk made this dish almost gelatinous which wasn’t as much of a hit.

The Singapore curry rice noodles were exactly what you expected and wanted. Noodles were perfect, the mixture of onions, celery and scallions worked well and the scrambled egg put it all together.

The orange beef served with a caramelized orange was a slightly disappointment. The very thinly sliced cold beef was good but I didn’t get the orange flavour I expected. The orange itself brought that instead.

Shepherd’s pie with sweet and sour sauce. This was awesome. The use of a sweet and sour sauce really made this an Asian play on a classic Quebecois dish.

Roasted salmon head was something I never would have ordered if it wasn’t for the fact this was All-You-Can-Eat. Preparation was excellent and what I eat of it was good. Some good fatty meat to grab hold of there but definitely not a favorite.

At the end, we then treated to the combination of fortune cookies and oranges where the pulp had been pureed and placed back on the rind. A cool approach that worked pretty well.

After all of that, I am ambivalent about Maison June Rose. Love the look and feel of the space so much. I also loved the All-You-Can-Eat approach and how the dished are not too your usual “Chinese” junk. However, when it comes to the dishes themselves, there were only a couple of items that were true hits to me. The vast majority were good but not enough to make me really want to order them again. And there in lies my issue. I enjoyed Maison June Rose enough to know I could have a good meal there but I’m not sure I have a strong pull to go out of my way to visit again.


Maison June Rose
16 Des Pins Est
514 439 7054

Maison June Rose on Urbanspoon


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