L’Affaire est Ketchup

1 Apr

Finding myself heading to Quebec City for a weekend course, my wife and I decided to make it a weekend trip. I learn, she skis and then we enjoy old Quebec which I hadn’t visited for…. 15 years!? Yeah I was overdue. As I was thinking about where I would like to go for a nice meal in the city, I thought back to an old Parts Unknown episode where Anthony Bourdain was in Quebec and visited L’Affaire est Ketchup – a unique restaurant that seemed to be doing very cool stuff. I always kept it on my list after that so this seemed like a good opportunity to finally try them out.

L’Affaire est Ketchup bills themselves as a “Pirate Restaurant” and that is really the unique thing about it. The space looks like an old apartment – you can only fit about 25 people in the space and the kitchen is really just the old kitchen tucked in the back of the apartment open for all to see. The chairs and tables are simple and worn out. The decor is not very consistent or fancy. The coat rack is in the stairwell to the “cellar” downstairs. The red wine “wine list” is the cabinet by the old fireplace with all bottles laid out for you to see. All of their cooking is using an old electric stove and oven! No fancy high end equipment here and that’s the thing to think about when you see the dishes – how they create very high end comfort fare using the most basic of space. It’s pretty cool.

The menu is small – 7 options for both appetizers and mains – and it is ever-changing although some items are apparently pretty consistent. First up, I went with the veal sweetbreads – poached in white vermouth and cream, seared and served with a sauce reduced from the poaching liquid. I love a good sweetbread and this is a great sweetbread. Great crisp on the outside but with keeping the tender richness within. A cream sauce is of course a great pairing with this level of fattiness. The vermouth comes through for a slight kick. Excellent starter.

My wife went with the cobia salad. Cobia is a white flaky fish which was poached in olive oil and served over a kimchi-like preparation of fresh and fermented green cabbage and with a avocado dressing. We had never had cobia before – very nice fresh flavour. I enjoyed the kimchi-like cabbage – it had some nice heat to it although my wife found it to finish a little too salty for her liking.

As a main, I went with the seared bison served over mashed potatoes, a mushroom cream sauce and some veggies. The bison was cooked perfectly medium rare with a great sear to it. Very flavourful and the sauce had a nice earthy richness to it. The mash and the roasted vegetables were excellent as well.

My wife went with the seared scallops served with pork belly, a parsnip purée and veggies. The scallops were beautiful – very tender and flavourful. The sear was excellent. The pairing of that with the fatty pork belly worked very well. The parsnip brought some extra creaminess and earthiness as well. Very enjoyable all around.

Finally for dessert, we decided to share the chocolate brownie served with whipped cream. Simple but well executed. Strong chocolate flavour with a nice texture to the brownie. Good finish to a solid meal.

L’Affaire est Ketchup is an unique and excellent experience in Quebec City. It is amazing the quality of food they can create out of such a small and basic kitchen. The service was excellent throughout the night making for a fun evening all around. Anthony Bourdain definitely didn’t steer us wrong. Now I need to make sure I don’t wait 15 years to visit the city again….

Cheers!

L’Affaire est Ketchup
46 Rue Saint-Joseph Est
Québec City, Canada
418 529 9020

L'Affaire est Ketchup Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Advertisements

La Cabane d’a Coté

27 Mar

March means sugar shack season here in Quebec. So for the last few years, that has meant going to La Cabane au Pied de Cochon, Martin Picard’s spectacularly glorious shack up in Mirabel. It’s not traditional but frankly I want a great meal at a sugar shack which isn’t as easy to find anymore so I go a little on the crazy side. However, this year, for the occasion of my wife’s birthday, I decided to forgo that particular experience for its cousin, La Cabane d’à Coté. Located on the property just next door to Cabane PDC that they purchased last year, Cabane d’à Coté is a smaller, more intimate setting (about 40 seats) run by Vincent Dion Lavallée, Martin’s partner and formerly the head chef at the Cabane PDC.

La Cabane d’à Coté took over the old sugar shack on the property and uses the old evaporator as the cooking apparatus – heating with wood and using the flattops on top of the old evaporator to cook off of. It is a unique idea for a restaurant and creates a cool scene when you enter the restaurant as the kitchen is front and center. Other than one table, the rest of the common seating is situated in the rooms just off from the center kitchen space with views of either the maple forest on one side or the apple orchard on the other. It is a beautifully simple restaurant space which evokes a classic style (especially with the use of old style dishes and cutlery) but with some twists. Even though the space is 40 people tops, it goes get a little nozy but not so much that you can’t enjoy the eclectic mix of music through the evening – think 90s pop with classic quebecois.

Compared to the Cabane PDC, La Cabane d’à Coté’s menu is a table champetre which changes more frequently that the twice a year of the other shack. The restaurant is also open year round and doesn’t require the same reservation time – although it can still take some time to get a table. The menu is a 5 course fixed menu which they say is all you can eat but frankly we were so stuffed just with the portions they served us that I can’t imagine anyone asking for more!

The first course was composed of two dishes. First, a split pea soup with maple glazed duck meatballs, sour cream and cheddar cheese. Excellent soup that really evoked the classic hardy soup that I love but the addition of the maple glazed duck meatballs really gave it some more richness and a touch of sweetness that I enjoyed.

Paired with that was homemade raisin cinnamon bread grilled on the flattop served in a maple reduction and topped with foie gras, maple sugar and creme fraiche. An insane level of richness and sweetness that was glorious. To our pleasant surprise, the charred toasted notes that comes from grilling over the wood really came through. Quite a start of our meal.

The second course was a more subtle affair. Of the four dishes we got for this course, there were two big hits. First was the raw scallops served with fermented cabbage and cream sauce. The scallops were sliced thinly and beautiful. The acidity of the fermented cabbage paired very nicely as well.

The other big hit was the thinly sliced white ham served with bacon and bacon over a base of apple butter. Coming from the hams the group raises on the property, the ham was so good. Beautiful texture and great flavour. The apple butter underneath was a rich and sweet treasure as well.

We also got mini buckwheat pancakes served with maple syrup and a salad of endives prepared in escabeche served with fresh sheep’s milk cheese. The pancakes were enjoyable but compared to the other dishes weren’t as special. I enjoyed the salad although my wife found the endives still too bitter for her liking.

At this point, we were already starting to feel full but we weren’t even halfway there! The next course brought two dishes. First, a sort of celeriac omelette served with smoked trout. A solid dish – the big standout was the chunk of smoked trout. Beautiful texture and flavour.

The other dish was a duck tartare of mushrooms, beets and crispy duck skin served over a Jerusalem artichoke puree. A really different tartare that I really enjoyed. I liked the use of the skin to add some different texture to the tartare. My wife doesn’t love duck so this was the dish we split opinion over the most over the course of the evening.

The fourth course was an all-meat affair. First was maple glazed grilled pork from the Cabane served with a cherry sauce. Simple but very well done. The quality of their pork in terms of flavour and texture comes through and the sweetness of both the maple and the cherries paired perfectly.

The second dish wasn’t as successful sadly – quail stuffed with duck meat served in a minestrone soup. The quail meat was excellent. The issue for both of us was the soup which clearly got an extra kick of vinegar but so much so that all we got flavour wise was vinegar. The big disappointment for us on the night.

The last dish of this course made up for it however – rabbit and chicken pot pie served with maple carrots. My favorite of the night. Beautiful presentation and great depth of flavour to boot. A great flaky crust, lots of meat and a beautifully rich but not heavy sauce to pair all of it together. Chicken pot pie is one of my childhood favorites so this dish evokes much love for me.

Finally….. we get to dessert! Some how we found a way to eat all 5 desserts they brought us 😉 The ricotta doughnuts served with maple dulce de leche were solid and enjoyable. The praline and sunflower seed ice cream was a very pleasant surprise that we both loved. The Baba served with haskap berries (camerise in French) and cranberries syrup topped with maple pastry cream and whipped cream was the most visually appealing of the group. Flavour-wise, the cake was a little heavy but the fruit syrup and the maple elements paired beautifully together with it. The most unique dessert was the frozen apple poached in maple syrup served with fresh cream. The apple’s texture was very unique in this preparation and of course, apples and maple pair so well together.

And lastly, as this is a sugar shack after all, we got some fresh maple taffy which was served to us through a hidden compartment in the table which allows them to bring snow into the restaurant to pour the maple syrup over. Very cool element and of course the perfect end to a sugar shack meal.

La Cabane d’à Coté continues the excellent tradition of the Cabane PDC and turns it into a more intimate, less bombastic experience. There is still excess – it’s a Martin Picard venture after all – but chef Vincent finds a way to make it slightly more refined and subtle. I would love to come back in the summer time to see what Vincent would do with all the fresh produce they produce on the property without the sugar shack trappings. This was a wonderful night and definitely worth visiting again.

Cheers!

La Cabane d’à Côté
3595 Montée Robillard

Fugazzi Pizza

25 Mar

It is quite something to watch your neighbourhood change before your eyes. Seeing old places close and replaced with newer businesses that come in, changing the type of services and shops that are available close to home. In Pointe St-Charles, as more professionals move into the area, we are seeing more and more new options open up and with some serious backing behind them. One of the most recent is Fugazzi Pizza. Located on Centre street across from Knox and close to the Nordelec building, Fugazzi is from the Barroco group – owners of Barroco, Foiegwa and the Atwater Cocktail Club.

Fugazzi took over the old Irish pub that was once there and completely changed it into a weird homage to the 90s and kitsch. Lots of bright colours, neons and jagged shapes all over the walls and decor. I was partial to the wall with an old VCR and tube TV under an multicolour shark. Paired with the 90s music playing over top, it is weird but yet it works in the space.

Food-wise, Fugazzi is going for Italian with a focus on Neapolitan style pizza. Our first appetizer was the citrus salad with fennel, pistachios and bottarga. An interesting available option that doesn’t quite fit the vibe of the restaurant but one that was quite enjoyable. Very subtle and light – very fresh and citrusy. A good start for sure.

Our other appetizer was homemade mozzarella sticks served with tomato sauce and horseradish. Honestly, probably the best I have had in years. Very flavourful with a wonderfully thick and crunchy outer coating. The use of horseradish to pair with the tomato dipping sauce was interesting and pretty good – provided some strong heat, if you desired, with the creaminess of the cheese stick.

As main courses, since Fugazzi is supposed to be a pizza place, we decided to go with a couple of their pizzas. In classic Napolitean style, they are individual-sized pizzas although you can order larger ones for take-out. My friend went with the One Night in Paris – tomato, ham, olives, gruyere, button mushrooms, egg – and I went with the Wu Tang Killa Bees – tomato, calabrese, honey, thyme oil, mozzarella. Great names by the way. There are more and more Napolitean-style pizzas being served in the city so we can start to compare nicely between them. In this case, the pizzas were fine but not the best we had have. The crust had the right thickness and chew you look for but frankly both were too charred underneath for our liking and that impacted the taste. Ingredients were plentiful but nothing really wowed us. This is a solid idea of a pizza but not one I will be running for.

We also tried to go up to the cocktail bar they build upstairs afterwards – Milky Way – but at 8:45 on a Thursday, there was already a wait list! Not quite something I am used to in my neighbourhood and frankly not really a great thing either but it speaks to the hype that exists around this opening. I am happy to have a pizzeria like this near home for the variety it provides. It is not a run-to for me but as someone who wants to see more businesses succeed in my neighbourhood, I hope they continue to work on becoming a better and better pizzeria.

Cheers!

Fugazzi Pizza
1886 Centre
438 522 7499

McKiernan Luncheonette

20 Feb

Small rant first if I may: Working as a physiotherapist in the West Island sucks in terms of lunch options. First off, my job doesn’t really allow for the time necessary to go out for lunch so even if I wished to splurge on a special occasion for fun, it really isn’t possible outside of a takeout/delivery option. And secondly, the West Island is a weird dead zone of high end restaurants for the most part. So, as an actual resident of the Sud-Ouest, when I heard that the Joe Beef guys and the Maison Publique guys – two of my favourite restaurants in the city – were opening up a weekday breakfast and lunch option in Ville Émard, I was insanely jealous and sad that I wouldn’t be able to try them under normal circumstances. (Now… they just announced last week that they are now open for dinner Thursdays and Fridays but I needed a narrative hook to start this post so please work with me.) Due to some legal matters that required my wife and I to take our afternoons off on a random weekday (yay home renos plans!), I took advantage and we decided to make our way to McKiernan for a late lunch and see if all the wonderful stuff I was seeing online was as great as I hoped.

Located off St-Patrick in the Dompark complex, McKiernan is a very different project from Joe Beef and Maison Publique. It is essentially a fancy canteen. The space is huge compared to their other restaurants and more sparse in terms of look and decor. The room is filled with long tables and benches that you share with others. They utilize the original flooring and wooden support beams of the space. The all white walls with the large windows overlooking the Canal makes the space very bright and open. I love the use of the string lights as extra lighting. There is a beautiful counter and bar area in the back as a focal point to the space. There is still the definite Canadiana touches you expect from Derek, Dave and Fred – such as the use of a canoe in decor and the local artwork.

The menu is a interesting mix of options for lunch fare. First up, we tried the McKiernan chowder – a very generous portion of potato and lardon chowder topped with potato chips and chives. An excellent chowder – not too heavy but very flavourful. Buttery and rich with lots of lardons and some potato chunks providing some fattiness and some consistency to the soup. I loved the additional crunch of the chips with the soup.

On top of the regular menu, McKiernan also has daily and weekly specials that change. I went with one of those: their “Beigne Pressé” of porchetta, rapini, pesto and cheese. A supercharged panini and a very good at that. Any combination of rich porchetta, cheese and pesto is good with me – especially in a great buttery bun! I really loved the touch of acidity that they added with the vinegar on the greens that topped the sandwich. It added a nice lighter dimension.

My wife decided on their pasta of the day – Casarecce with boudin blanc and chou de Savoy. Another excellent dish – the rich creamy sauce clung nicely to the fresh tender pasta with the notes of the boudin and the cabbage mixing within the dish. Very well done and delicious.

Lastly, to go, because I couldn’t say no to having one of the many baked goods they had at the counter, we got one of their 70% Chocolate and sea salt cookies. A perfect mixture of gooey rich chocolate with a salty kick to it. The cookie was super tender with a nice initial crunch.

McKiernan is exactly what I was hoping – what would happen if Joe Beef and Maison Publique did lunch and breakfast. The food is excellent and super interesting outside of the usual lunch fare. The space is nice and welcoming – there is ping pong and baby foot if you have some extra free time. The space is also available for renting for events and it also allows them to offer catering services – very welcomed services given the quality of the work they do. Thankfully, now that McKiernan is open for dinner 2 nights a week, they become more of a option for me to try. Otherwise, I would need to find more excuses to be “stuck” at home for work! Regardless, McKiernan is a must-try for anyone.

Cheers!

McKiernan Luncheonette
5524 Rue Saint-Patrick #200
514 759 6677

Le Club Chasse et Pêche

16 Feb

Despite my best efforts, there are still numerous Montreal staples that I have yet to try. Be it for lack of occasion or honestly just forgetting about them, some restaurants have been continuously on my to-try list for years and years. Le Club Chasse et Pêche has been one such place. The old Montreal staple run by Claude Pelletier, long lauded for the quality of their work since 2004, has weirdly never been one that I would think about when looking for a high end restaurant for an occasion. Well, thankfully that was fixed for me as a friend of mine decided to have his birthday dinner take place there so I finally got to see if all the praise was justified.

Located very unassumingly on a side street in the Old Montreal, Le Club Chasse et Pêche has a somewhat weird visual motif to me. Given the age of the building, they highlight some of its classic features – beautiful old stone walls and archways – in the periphery but the rest of the space is a mix of more modern touches – dark printed pattern wallpaper on the ceiling, black accent walls with a flat concrete-like finish, modernistic artwork, curved plastered walls which orient and separate the room in ways to make things feel more intimate but also weirdly disorienting. It works with the low lighting to create a very intimate ambience perfect for the type of special occasions that bring you to a place like this but personally not the type of style I enjoy.

The menu is not big but frankly everything on the page sounded amazing. As a starter, I went with the crispy veal sweetbread served with a soubise sauce, comté, mustard and hazelnuts. I love sweetbreads so even though the rest of the items listed seemed like a weird mixture, I felt this dish call to me. It was superb – the sweetbread was cooked to perfection – juicy and tender but with a great exterior crunch. The onion sauce had a nice balance of sweetness and creaminess and the other elements worked well even if adding cheese, mustard and nuts to this would seem odd. Just trust me.

The other starter I got to try through an exchange with the birthday boy was THE Club Chasse et Pêche classic starter – the braised piglet risotto topped with foie gras shavings. Holy cow did this dish not disappoint. My friend called it the best risotto he has ever had and I would agree. The risotto itself is cooked nicely – a touch firm but still very tender and the flavours are out of this world – the mixture of the pork and the rich foie gras made this so decadent but so powerful. Definitely a dish not to miss when you go!

As a main dish, after much MUCH deliberation, I went with their version of the surf and turf, Le Chasse et Pêche, the component of which change regularly. On this occasion, it was buttery lobster and 30 day aged steak. Excellent preparation of both elements. The lobster was all rich and buttery goodness. The steak was seared perfectly and very tender. An excellent surf and turf.

As a dessert, I decided to go with their Bomb – a caramel and milk chocolate tartelette served with an 80% chocolate sorbet. I loved the tarte – flaky and crisp with a great rich caramel flavour. Honestly I didn’t like the sorbet – it felt too watery to me which gave us less impact than it should have. A minor quibble in a great meal.

Le Club Chasse et Pêche was a great experience and worth the wait. The food was exquisite – our entire table left the dinner very full and satisfied. It may be easily missed when you walk around Old Montreal but believe it, it is definitely worth your attention. Don’t wait as long as I did.

Cheers!

Le Club Chasse et Pêche
423 Rue St-Claude
514 861 1112

Le Club Chasse et Pêche Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bête à Pain Griffintown (Brunch Edition)

12 Feb

I love a good bakery. You walk in and the smell of fresh baked goods just hits you like a wave. It is both pleasant and mouth watering. It is hard to enter a bakery and not leave without a few good items – much to the dismay of my scale. In my neighbourhood of Pointe St-Charles, we still lack a true great bakery but luckily I am close enough to a few wonderful ones in St-Henri, Little Burgundy and Griffintown. Bête à Pain in Griffintown is one such place. I had been in a few times to try some bread but hadn’t found the occasion to try their sit-down services as they offer breakfast, lunch and apero until 7pm. That changed recently as it became the perfect place to meet up with our Architect friend to discuss some life stuff for the wife and I (yay home reno plans!) and have brunch at the same time.

First off, La Bête à Pain is a beautiful bakery. Attached to the MUST société store off of Peel St., it definitely goes the extra mile in creating a visually stunning space. There is a great use of the industrial traits of the building – the brick walls, the high ceilings – and then adding some softer touches to play off of it. The use of an all glass wall at the entrance to get lots of natural light, hanging plants, the use of old wooden tables, wood lats covering the ceiling, etc. The focal point of the space is the open baking area itself with a beautiful display counter for the goods. Very appealing when you walk in!

We arrived early enough that we had the breakfast options to choose from. The menu is smallish but still has good variety and naturally uses fresh baked goods they produce on hand. My wife went with the pain perdu – served with ricotta mousse, pear compote, mint, caramelized pecans and a caramel sauce. A decadent dish to be sure for breakfast/brunch but hey why not? My wife loved the pecans, the sauce and the pear compote but something about the ricotta didn’t pair well with her. I enjoyed it more than she did but yes there was something off a bit with it – the ricotta tastes like nothing really so it just added richness but in a fad way that really lingered more than the other great elements of the dish.

I went with the smoked salmon croissant served with dill, capers, red onions and creme fraiche. Huge hit for both of us. The croissant was buttery flaky perfection – tender and soft but firm on the outside. Pairing that with smoked salmon is no brainer and the addition elements worked great as a whole. An excellent breakfast sandwich.

In the end, the meal was not perfect but definitely enough to entice us to return again. Bête à Pain is worth a visit alone for their wonderful bread and baked goods. If you are a little more hungry than that, it is definitely a good option to consider.

Cheers!

Bête à Pain Griffintown
195 Young
514 509 8937

La Bête à Pain Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Licence IV

10 Dec

Being a Francophone town means that we are inundated with French cuisine here in Montreal. In particular, there are a lot of restaurants cribbing off the classic French bistro style – burger, moule-frites, steak-frite, tartar, etc… It is a classic favourite but one that can be stale in the hands of an average restaurant. Funny enough, in the Sud-Ouest, there really wasn’t a bistro spot in the neighbourhood. Well, that changed last year with the arrival of a couple including Licence IV on Notre-Dame. As my wife works nearby, we went a few weeks ago with some of her colleagues to see if they could do this classic style right.

Licence IV definitely put a good foot forward in terms of looks. The space is beautiful – a modern but classically inspired bistro look. we have the long bar, the banquets, the ornate tin ceiling, the heavy touches of glass and brass all over and tons of ample lighting. There is also lots of use of vegetation to create an indoor terrasse feel. I found the video projections over the bar a little strange and the wait staff allowed the videos to lapse at one point so we can the computer desktop being projected over the bar instead of the videos we were supposed to see. The look is there – just needs a touch more refinement in terms of execution from the staff.

The list of cocktails is interesting as is the wine list. I started with their Marseillaise – Rye, Italian Amaro with orange bitters served hot. I enjoyed it – close to my favourite Negroni but with a extra hint of orange. I also enjoyed how the use of warm water created a more soothing and warming beverage. Perfect for the cold weather we are now experiencing. Related to the cocktails, the wait staff was weirdly insistent about cocktails or even champagne prior to the meal even though everyone else had said no the first time they mentioned it. I get the profit that comes with drinks but as a staff you need to understand the line between suggesting and being way too pushy about it.

Our appetizers came next and were enjoyed nicely. First was the charcuterie plat – a mixture of duck rillettes, ham, rosette de Lyon sausage, figs, candied fruits, raclette cheese and bread to melt the cheese over. A nice variety of items and all enjoyable. I liked the touch of being able to melt the raclette cheese at the table.

The other appetizer I tried was the panko breaded fried calamari served with homemade tartar sauce. A nice crunch to the calamari and I loved the freshness of the sauce. The calamari were nice and tender as well. Solid starter.

As a main, I went with the duck burger – topped with marinated slaw, melted cheese, honey mustard sauce and lardon – served with fries. Sadly, this was a disappointment. The patty was very thin compared to the rest of the burger and frankly didn’t really evoke much in terms of the natural fatty flavour of duck. It is too bad because I liked the bun and the matchstick fries. However, if the heart of the dish isn’t good enough, you can dress it up all you want – it doesn’t matter.

The other main I got to try was better – the Moules-Frites à la Marinière. Excellent dish – the mussels were plentiful, very tender and had great flavour from the classic broth. Add the excellent matchsticks fries and you had a classic bistro dish very well executed.

Licence IV was a solid Bistro experience. A few things to nitpick and hope to see improve but overall, they get the look and feel of the French Bistro down pat. If you looking for some French classics in the Sud-Ouest, Licence IV is worth a look.

Cheers!

Licence IV
1524 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest
514 938 8084

Licence IV Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

1909 Taverne Moderne

9 Dec

In Montreal, hockey and the Habs are king. As such, the team continues to find new ways to expand their reach. One of these is through food as the team has opened up a massive sports bar in the Bell Center to cater to the downtown core – 1909 Taverne Moderne. Clearly modelled after Real Sports in Toronto, 1909 is a sports bar restaurant on steroids. It is a huge multi-level restaurant which offers standing room, bar seating and mezzanine banquets all focused around a gigantic screen showing sports – obviously the Canadiens if it was a game night but in this case, college basketball and hockey.

The space is impressive to look at. It is also very loud – the combination of the high ceiling, the mezzanine structure and the loud music playing at the same time means that this isn’t the place for a quiet meal. Clearly you come here because you want a party, you want to watch sports in a group setting or you are coming to the Bell Center for a game or show and want something close by. Looking at the menu in comparison to a typical sports bar, the bar menu is varied with lots of local microbrewery options. The food menu itself also steps away from the usual bar fare with some more up-scale items.

My wife wasn’t too hungry so as a meal, she went with the Teriyaki baby back ribs appetizer. The ribs were pretty good – served amongst like spare ribs, they were fall off the bone tender and pretty flavourful with the sweet Teriyaki glaze.

The positives stop there though. I went with the Chili Con Carne with a side order of fries. First up, they both arrived at the table lukewarm. This brings up the issue of the service. Our waiter was nice but he wasn’t very quick or attentive in general. It took a while for him to come take our order and the food was slow to come as well. It is a very busy space but then more staff should be present or at least they should re-think how they function because our guy was running around like crazy but never really on top of things. It is not acceptable for food to be served not hot. We had a concert to go to so I didn’t make a deal of it but could have been very easily.

The chili itself was bland – it lacked any strong flavour notes. No heat, no sweetness, no nothing. It was filling because we was meat and beans but frankly anyone with their slow cooker could have matched it.

The side of fries was equally uninspiring – the cut was fine but they had no inherent flavour and when you add that they were lukewarm, really not a winner especially for 6$. I got to try some nachos one of our friends ordered and it was a similar story – very average fare. Lots of chips but not a whole lot of cheese or topping for something that costs 13$.

In the end, frankly I can see the interest to go to watch a game in a cool setting but frankly the food (and the subsequent cost of the meal) really doesn’t make this a worthwhile dining experience outside of that. Much like the Habs this year, there is potential but the finished product is no where close yet.

Cheers!

1909 Taverne Moderne
1280 Avenue des Canadiens-de-Montréal
514 416 9809

1909 Taverne Moderne Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lloydie’s

9 Dec

When the weather starts to get cold around here, most of us start to think about warming climate and getting away from the snow. I, on the other hand, think more about cuisine from those warmer climate. My regular weekly errands bring me up to Mile End and right by a relatively new spot in the neighbourhood – Lloydie’s. Lloydie’s has been around as a producer of Caribbean food in Montreal since 1987 but has only recently opened up a couple of fast food-like restaurants to serve their cuisine. I took the opportunity a few times to try them out and see if they could evoke some warm feelings in the midst of the cold creeping up on us.

The menu is short and concise. They have jerk chicken, jerk pork and oxtail served in a few different ways (plate, sandwich or poutine) and with a variety of sides as well. It is fast food so you order at the counter, take it and go. In both cases when I visited the service was quick and very efficient. I tried their ginger beer on my first visit. Super strong ginger flavour – this isn’t one of those “sorta” ginger drink where you taste it a bit. It is all ginger, all the time. I enjoyed it as a nice palate cleanser during the meal but it will definitely be an acquired taste for many.

First up, I went with the jerk pork poutine. A nice generous portion of fries topped with a gravy, cheese curds and some jerk pork. The fries had a nice cut to them and just a little crunch on the outside. The gravy was light but flavourful and the cheese curds were the right kind of squeak – as one would want in a poutine. The key distinguishing feature here is the pork. The pork was very tender and had tons of flavour – not too spicy but with just enough kick to tell you it’s there. Very enjoyable.

I also decided to order a side of plantains that first time. The plantains are fried up and tossed with a spicy seasoning mix. I loved the flavour of the plantains but personally thought they were a little too thick sizewise. As a result, they lacked the more crunch I love with my favorite fried plantains.

The following visit I went for a plate of oxtail. The plate is served with a side of plantains and either rice or fries – as you wish. The fries are tossed in the same seasoning as the plantains which adds a nice taste to them. The oxtail was wonderful – fall off the bone tender and very flavourful. The stewing liquid/gravy is rich and very deep in flavour. It has a certain sweetness to it – almost chocolatey in nature.

Super flavourful meats, nice depth of flavours and solid portions – Lloydie’s definitely goes a good job of bringing Caribbean food in a fast food approach. If you want to be the cold, definitely head over to them for a hit of Caribbean heat.

Cheers!

Lloydies
66 Rue Saint Viateur Ouest

Kinka Izakaya

14 Nov

When I was asked to find a restaurant for my friend’s bachelor party, I knew exactly the kind of restaurant I wanted to go to: an Izakaya. It has the perfect combination for a fun night with a large group of people: fun ambience; solid food that is easily shareable; good drink options to enjoy with the food and at a good price to boot. For this particular occasion, I decided to bring my friends to a place that I hadn’t visited before in Montreal: Kinka Izakaya. The groom-to-be and myself had been to one of their Toronto restaurants and had a great time (from what I remember anyway….) so I thought it would be appropriate to bring him to the Montreal equivalent to see if the same good time would be had.

Located in Faubourg St-Catherine, Kinka Izakaya is a relatively compact space with much emphasis on wood and stone. The kitchen is open to the room. There is a lot of noise as one would expect on a busy Saturday night. Service was quick and efficient. Much props to their rainbow sake bomb celebration which involves lots of yelling, singing and a big blackboard – a perfect thing for a bachelor’s party 😉

Foodwise, it is the usual mix for an Izakaya – noodles, soups, fried food and some sashimi options. I always go for the classic edamame bowl – nothing out of the ordinary here. Not over-boiled and properly salted. Always a good light option on the menu.

The classic gyu carpaccio – seared beef sashimi served with ponzu, wasabi mayo, garlic chips and scallions – was okay. The meat was tender enough but frankly there was a little too much ponzu at the bottom of the plate so the dish was fruity acidity.

The karubi – grilled miso marinated beef short ribs – was more of a hit. The meat was nicely grilled and very tender. The marinade came through nicely and wasn’t too overbearing.

The Gyoza here were deep fried vegetable dumplings served with a sweet chili mayo. Very flavourful filling and a nice crunch to the exterior. I enjoyed the nice sweet heat that came through in the mayo as well.

One of my personal favorites at an Izakaya is takoyaki – deep fried octopus balls served with tonkatsu sauce and mayo. Kinka does this well – the filling was very flavourful. The natural flavour of octopus comes through nicely and I always love the mixture of the tonkatsu sauce and the mayo.

The karaage – deep fried soy sauce marinated chicken served with garlic mayo – was a little oily but had great crunch and the chicken itself was moist and flavourful – not too salty despite the soy sauce marinade. The garlic mayo had a nice kick to it as well and paired well with the chicken.

One of our group really wanted to order the tontoro so we tried it. A skewer of grilled pork cheek served with yuzu pepper – I enjoyed the tenderness of pork cheeks but frankly this is the one dish that lack strong flavour.

The final dish I tried was ikapiri – deep fried calamari with spicy ketchup and wasabi mayo. Nice taste to the calamari themselves but lacked the crunch you want from fried calamari. The spicy kitchen and wasabi mayo was a very strong combination of sweet, spice and richness. Really loved this dish despite then lack of crunch.

We had fun, eat and drank well – so overall Kinka Izakaya was exactly what I hoped it would be. Izayakas are always a fun time and it’s great to see many good ones opening up around Montreal. So arrive with an empty stomach, open mind and be ready to shout ‘Sake Bomb’ – you won’t be disappointed.

Cheers!

Kinka Izakaya
1624 Sainte-Catherine Ouest
514 750 1624

KINKA IZAKAYA Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

%d bloggers like this: