Le Petit Mousso

13 Nov

November is MTL à Table time and also the end of a 3 month period where my wife and I are pretty much on the go non-stop. MTL à Table is always a great way to get a nice date night for the two of us. For this year, looking at the list, I was tempted by one spot in particular – Le Petit Mousso.

I have yet to go to its big brother next door, Le Mousso. There, Chef Antonin Mousseau-Rivard has been racking up accolades for his inventive and delicious tasting menu offerings over the past 4 years. Open since 2018, Le Petit Mousso took over the old space of the Mousso as they expanded next door and turned it into a ‘À la Carte’ version of the Mousso – same style of cuisine, similar decor and style – just no need to commit to the tasting menu approach. I was looking forward to dipping my toe in to see what Le Mousso’s style was all about.

Le Petit Mousso is located in the Village, corner Ontario and Atateken. The two restaurants share the same entrance – such that I wasn’t sure which half was the Petit Mousso and which was Le Mousso when we walked in. The space is very clean and simple. The old white brick walls are accented with a bit of art work. The dining room is a two level space with a mix of tables and bar-style seating. There are industrial and modern touches with the central staircase that leads to the open kitchen in the basement which is probably the coolest element in the design of the space.

Being MTLàTable, we had a 3 course menu for the evening with 3 choices at every course. We chose to not order any of the same dishes so we could taste as much of the menu as we could. The first appetizer was chicken liver mousse with elderberries and clover served with bread from Automne Boulangerie. Super light and airy texture but with huge flavours. If you don’t like chicken liver, this may not sell you on it but it was excellent. The use of the lightly fermented elderberries on top cut some of the richness down with its sweet acidity.

Our other appetizer was a plate of shrimp served in Kohlrabi ‘wrappers’ in a lightly flavoured tomato broth. Beautiful presentation on the table. A very subtle dish all-around. The shrimp were delicious and quite flavourful. I like the interesting use of the kohlrabi as a wrapper. Flavourwise, it didn’t really add much. A well executed and presented dish.

Our mains continued the great level of execution. I went with the sous-vide duck served with carrots, pleurotes and a light broth. Once again, beautiful presentation and great depth of flavours. The duck was super tender and flavourful. The carrots and mushrooms paired very well to the duck as well. Very enjoyable.

My wife went with the char served in a beurre blanc sauce with shishito peppers. Super tender fish with great flavour. The beurre blanc was the right balance of rich but not heavy. A perfect complement to the fish.

We ordered two different sides to go with our mains and sadly these did not wow us like the rest of the meal. The smoked potatoes served in a buttermilk and herb sauce were okay but no punch. The cold and slightly firm texture of the potatoes also left us wanting. The fermented cabbage with vinaigrette and herbs were a little too bitter for us as well.

The dessert course brought things back on a more positive course for us. First was a white chocolate mousse topped with a squash granité. While the initial contrast between the ice cold granité and the mousse was quite strange temperature-wise, they was no denying that the flavours worked beautifully together.

The second dessert was a ‘black jerusalem artichoke’ – a coffee-flavoured cake topped with chocolate mousse and rye crumble. Delicious texture to the cake and the chocolate mousse was smooth and rich. Personally, we don’t like coffee so that flavour profile wasn’t our favourite but excellent execution regardless.

Le Petit Mousso gave us a look into Le Mousso’s style and we came out of it very impressed. Great level of execution and creativity throughout the meal. Not everything hit for us but enough of it to confirm that we must come back for the full experience next door. If you aren’t sure yourself, Le Petit Mousso is a great way to find out.

Cheers!

Le Petit Mousso
1023 Ontario Est
438 384 7410

Damas

10 Nov

Last week, I finally found myself at Damas. Yeah… I know. How could someone who enjoys so much the Montreal restaurant scene have never been to Damas before? I have no good answer really… neglect? Circumstances? I will admit that Syrian cuisine is not something that all my dining friends enjoy so that may have played a part but regardless, I finally entered Damas ready to see if the praise is well earned.

Located in Outremont on Van Horne, Damas is a high-end sit-down Syrian restaurant. The space is very warm and welcoming despite its large size and multiple rooms. Lots of colour, patterned tiles and interesting lighting. The space was noisy enough which is understandable given how busy the room was. Service was sharp throughout the evening.

If you enjoy more casual middle eastern cuisine, you will recognize some of the flavours here but this is a whole different level. First up was the Fattouch salad – a beautiful salad of crispy pita, lettuce, various vegetables and herbs. Very nice mix with the crunch of the pitas and the fresh veggies. I loved the addition of the pomegranate seeds for a touch of sweetness. The vinaigrette was subtle but a little balance of oil and acidity.

We then had a platter of 4 different dips with bread – hummus, mouhammara, eggplant mutabbal and beet mutabbal. All four were excellent – classic creamy hummus, the sweet heat of the mouhammara and the lovely notes of beet and eggplant in the mutabbals. Perfect entry point for the meal.

Our final appetizer was one I really wanted to try once I read the description: Shish Borek – lamb dumplings served with coriander yogourt sauce, aleppo pepper butter and caramelized onions. The dumpling themselves were quite good – lovely gamey lamb flavour. The yogourt sauce, while being pretty thin, still brought a nice creaminess with a touch of spiciness to pair with the lamb. The sweetness of the onions mix well also.

At this point, we were already pretty stuffed but had already ordered one main dish each. Frankly, we could have done with only 2 to share amongst the four of us given the portion sizes!

First was the Damas Shish Taouk – chicken breast served with picked vegetables, sumac fries, garlic mayo and house orange ketchup. Good char on the chicken. Compared to the rest of the dishes, it lacked some punch flavour-wise. The fries were good and of course love the garlic sauce!

Next dish was the Fattet Mozat – Alberta Lamb shank and shoulder served with rice, tahini yogurt sauce, crispy pita, pistachios, cashews and ghee. An amazing dish – the lamb just fell off the bone cleanly. Very flavourful and tender. Tons of flavours through the sauce – some richness, some heat, some sweet. Everything to pair well with that lamb. I had some left for the next day and it was just as great the second time around.

The third main was another lamb dish, the Fattet Makdous – eggplant stuffed with marinated lamb leg served with tahini yogourt, crispy pita, tomato sauce and pine nuts. Another excellent dish. More tender flavourful lamb but this time paired up with more acidity and earthiness with the eggplants and the tomato sauce. The yogourt brought some richness to counterbalance the acidity.

Our final dish was Samak – mediterranean seabass served with walnuts, peppers, onions and tajin sauce. The fish was flaky and tender. Again tons of accent flavours through the sauce and the veggies. At this point, I wasn’t hungry anymore but found a way to try it at least a bit!

We left Damas happy and quite full. This is a restaurant that will hit your pocketbook but frankly, the quality of what you get and also the portions themselves is such that you will not leave disappointed. It took a long time to get to Damas but believe me, it won’t take as long to come back.

Cheers!

Damas
1201 Van Horne
514 439 5435

Damas Cuisine Syrienne Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Le Butterblume (Brunch Edition)

6 Oct

A brunch post?! It’s been a while hasn’t it? Well, my wife and I have crazy schedules which makes weekend brunch a bit of a challenge nowadays. However, a rare opportunity allowed me to meet up with my wife midway through her Saturday workday to finally try a more recent entry in the category of Mile End brunch staple, Le Butterblume. Part coffee shop, part boutique and part restaurant, Le Butterblume offers breakfast and lunch during the week and brunch during the weekend. Headed by Nadine Boudreau and Julie Romano, its location is easy to miss at first – right on the edge between Mile End and Little Italy just before the Van Horne overpass.

Le Butterblume is very much an open concept space. There isn’t much that separates the boutique front, the cash and bakery counter and then the open kitchen/bar and the seating area in the back. The accents are simple – the brick wall, the open industrial kitchen and then the open garage door with tons of natural sun light coming through with a view of the garden outback. It’s simple but very welcoming and comforting.

The menu, conceived by Jens Ruoff, is an interesting mix of some German/Austrian influences and more “traditional” brunch fare. My wife and I went with a trio of dishes to share together. First up, a gougère “sandwich” of nordic shrimp, sour cream, apple and pickles. The gougère itself was nice and flaky with that hint of cheese mixed in. The shrimp were very fresh but the dish in the end lack some punch. Also, the portion was limited given the price of the plate.

Our second dish fared better. A ‘Kaseknodel’ or bread pudding of cheddar and parsley served with cole slaw & juniper berry sour cream. Very interesting texture – soft and tender with strong notes of both cheddar and parsley. The slaw had a nice vinegary note to it which paired well with the richer bread pudding. We didn’t note the juniper in the sour cream but it mixed well with everything. An excellent side dish although again a little small portion-wise.

We went with one main dish to share and it was the highlight of the meal – the marinated eggplant, pepper and chickpea salad topped with grilled halloumi, mint yogourt, Ontario Peaches and served with homemade pitas. The salad itself has tons of flavour with a nice balance of acidity and freshness. The halloumi of course added some richness and saltiness. The creamy yogurt. The sweet peaches. An excellent example of well balanced and very hearty dish. Sitting at the bar, it was the most common thing coming through the kitchen and I can see why.

Le Butterblume is a solid brunch spot that is clearly a hit within the Mile End neighbourhood. Nice vibe, good food – well worth a visit if you are around the area. Just be prepared perhaps to wait in line a bit if you visit on the weekend – which is the classic Montreal brunch experience if you think about it 😉

Cheers!

Le Butterblume
5836 Boul St-Laurent
514 903 9115

Le Butterblume Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chez St-Pierre

3 Oct

Fall has now started to arrive which as a child of summer makes me look back wistfully on the summer we just had. It was a nice one which for my wife and I culminated in a beautiful 2 week trip to Gaspésie. Despite some of the bad weather, he had a great time seeing the beautiful scenery and enjoying the wonderful local culinary fare. As soon as we booked this trip, I know where I had to reserve for dinner: At chef Colombe St-Pierre’s restaurant in Le Bic, Chez St-Pierre. Chef St-Pierre has become quite the household name in the Quebec food scene and even at the international level now. So it was with very great excitement that we found ourselves there on the 1st night of our vacation on our way to Gaspésie – hopeful for quite the meal.

Located in the small village of Le Bic just across the Church atop the hill, Chez St-Pierre is a tasting menu service of either 3,5 or 7 courses with a option of wine pairing as well. The restaurant has a nice look to it – floor to ceiling wood with tons of lighting. The kitchen is open concept in the middle of the space and the dining area is extended with a closed solarium off the side of the building. It is hard to see in the pictures but they are using wine corks as cool accents along the walls in certain places. The service throughout the night was impeccable with the different chefs in the kitchen (including Colombe) coming out to explain the different dishes throughout the evening. I enjoyed the touch of having all of the wait and kitchen staff listed on the menu as well as all the suppliers the restaurant uses for their food – a nice way to highlight the people who help contribute to make Chez St-Pierre want it is.

We chose to go with the 5 course meal for this evening. Before the meal got started, we got an amuse-bouche of a fried stuffed zucchini flower. Beautiful presentation with great crunch and a nice flavour. We were also served housemade bread – including squid ink bread – served with a soft cheese and herb spread. Just delicious and a great start to the meal.

First course provided us with a salicornia and gin cucumber gaspacho with a Scotch lovage (Persil de mer) emulsion, marinated white turnips and a chervil salad. A dish with many ingredients I had never had before – very cool use of local items and such an excellent soup. Great depth of flavour – a nice brightness punctuated with some saltiness. The emulsion added some creaminess which paired well. Honestly one of the best soups I have had in a while.

The second course was the fish course – grilled filet of turbot served over mussels and nordic shrimp with a jus of mussels. Excellent piece of fish – flaky and tender with a nice grill to it. The shrimp and mussels were super fresh and flavourful. A great platform to showcase the great local seafood and fish of the region.

Third course went vegetarian as we were served a terrine of zucchini and eggplant served with a summer savory tomato coulis and a vodka yellow pepper sorbet. Beautiful presentation and super creative idea of the sorbet which legitimately tasted like yellow peppers. However, it didn’t worked for neither my wife nor I. As a result, the dish didn’t wow us as the others had.

Fourth course brought us back on track with a beef medallion marinated ‘spicy’ served with red cabbage tortilla, tequila sour cream and pepper salsa. The cool thing about this dish is where the beef came from – it is from a dairy farm nearby. Chef St-Pierre has a partnership going with the farm where she takes the beef of the cows, ages them 60 days and then uses it in the restaurant. Given that the meat comes from a dairy cow, the meat is more lean and tough so the aging helps the texture. It was excellent and a super cool approach to re-utilizing resources from the region. The dish had a very Mexican-influenced flavour to it – some heat and some sweet, the sour cream had a nice kick to it and the pepper salsa was very good.

Final dish, of course, was dessert. We were served a black spruce éclair with strawberries, black garlic pastry cream and balsam fir ice cream. A gorgeous dish once again with tons of very interesting flavours. The éclair was airy and spongy. When combined with the ice cream, it made for a very strong pine-like taste – evoking of our Northern forests. I really liked the punch from the garlic pastry cream as well. And the strawberries, being in season, were very sweet and flavourful. An awesome close-out to our meal.

Chez St-Pierre is the best restaurant experience we have had all year. Excellent service from top to bottom, amazing dishes with tons of flavour and creativity and a wonderful use of local ingredients. It may be a little out of the way for those of us in Montreal but believe me visiting Colombe at Chez St-Pierre is well worth the extra gas mileage 😉

Cheers!

Chez St-Pierre
129 Rue du Mont Saint Louis, Rimouski (Qc)
418 736 5051

Chez Saint-Pierre Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Beba

21 Aug

While I call Pointe-St-Charles home, I am lucky enough to be close by from Verdun and the booming restaurant scene that is developing along Wellington street. As that neighbourhood has changed and developed, we have seen more and more interesting restaurants establish roots in the area that have some great pedigrees. Most recently, we have the case of Beba, a restaurant on Ethel – just off Wellington – that was started by the Schor brothers, Pablo and Chef Ari, who have some great bonafides including the fact that Chef Ari was Chef de Cuisine at Liverpool House prior to opening this restaurant. With a pedigree like this, I couldn’t wait to walk over and see what they had in store for us so I called my sister who lives in Verdun and she joined my wife and I for a nice evening dinner.

Beba has the look of a real neighbourhood bistro. The interior is very clean with simple modern touches such as the marble countertop bar, the circular mirrors along the wall and leather mid-century style banquettes. There is also a garage door on the side which allows to really open up the space in the summer. They also have a nice little terrasse in the front which faces Ethel street which makes it very calm and relaxing as a spot. The weather was so beautiful that night that we got a chance to sit outside for our meal – perfect conditions to enjoy a hopefully great meal.

Beba advertises itself as serving ‘food and drink inspired by the Spanish and Italian cultures that settled in Argentina’ which is an interesting premise and a big difference from the Liverpool House fare that people know chef Schor for but one that reflect he and his brother’s Argentinian heritage. The three of us decided to share a bunch of different items from the menu. The menu is apparently adjusted frequently so it is subject to change.

First up, we had the beef and olive empanada. A classic Argentine item – a nice flaky crunch to the pastry shell and the interior filing was quite flavourful. More beer in flavour than olive which I appreciated immensely.

Next was the Swiss chard involtini with zucchini, pine nuts and yogourt. An interesting presentation and usage of Swiss chard. Very flavourful dish – I enjoyed the freshness of the veggies and how that paired with the creaminess of the yogourt.

Our final starter was the green salad served with egg, summer vegetables and grana padano. A very simple dish in presentation but a perfect usage of the seasonable veggies available,. This was a beautifully fresh salad with a nice balance of acidity, sweetness and some richness. I rarely order a green salad at a restaurant but this one was well worth it.

We moved to the ‘bigger’ dishes of the night and started the gnudi with tomato butter and pecorino. This was the biggest hit of the night. The gnudi were light and fluffy in texture with a lovely creamy rich flavour. The tomato butter was insane – so smooth and rich of flavour. The pecorino provided some bite to the dish. We lapped this up and I would go back to Beba just for this dish.

Next was the eggplant served with a lamb ragu and peas. I really enjoyed this dish – the star is the hearty lamb ragu which had tons of that gamey richness that I love about lamb. The eggplant was good but somewhat hidden by the strong notes of the ragu. The peas provided some crispness and the little sauce a little acidity and brightness to the plate. A solid dish all around.

Our final dish was the rabbit ‘pan con tomate’ served with an aioli and a mussel escabeche. I loved the different usage of the classic spanish ‘pan con tomate’ dish to serve the rabbit. The garlicky aioli with the tomatoes, the mussels and the rabbit paired very nicely together. The rabbit itself was excellent – the one complaint is more of the presentation one. By having the rabbit pieces still on the bones, it made it more of the hassle to enjoy the rabbit with the tomato bread itself which meant that the dish was eaten more in two parts then all together. The flavours were excellent outside of that minor complaint.

All in all, Beba was an excellent experience from beginning to end and is a welcomed neighbourhood spot close to home. The dishes were delicious. The service was sharp and friendly; and the atmosphere was a perfect combination of hip energy with a relaxed neighbourhood haunt vibe. Chef Schor and his brother have a really interesting thing going very quickly. I look forward to more walks over for some good meals and hope you shall all join me.

Cheers!

Beba
3900 Éthel
514 750 7087

Les Street Monkeys

6 Jul

We have reached July which means we have reached time to celebrate my birthday. As I have gotten older, I have gone away from a party to celebrate. I prefer just a nice dinner with friends either home or at the restaurant. The challenge, as always, is to find somewhere that works for a group – where we can easily share and where the cost to my friends is reasonable. I hate forcing my friends to splurge at my expense. Well, for this year, I decided to stay close to home in Verdun to try our hand at some Cambodian cuisine at Les Street Monkeys.

The menu is described as Cambodian-style street food. The portions are small and designed to share. The menu is mostly Cambodian but they do venture in cuisine from other south-east Asian countries. As a party of 5, we decided to grab a bunch of stuff to try. First up, we ordered their pork and taro fried imperial rolls. Solid rolls – a nice crunch on the outside. Inside, the filling was plentiful and very flavourful.

Next, we had the shrimp ceviche marinated in a lime, fish sauce and wasabi dressing. The waiter warned us the dish was quite strong in wasabi and wow was it ever! It hits you right in the nose once you take your first bite. If you can handle the heat, the dish is excellent. The shrimp is very tender and the addition of the radishes and the scallions provided some lightness and crunch.

We couldn’t say no to a traditional papaya salad but sadly it wasn’t a big hit. Texture was nice and had tons of sweetness and acidity but it lacked some punch in terms of the heat. Most of us agreed that Satay Brothers’ version is better.

Our next dish faired better. The Khmer style fried chicken drums – fried chicken with a shrimp paste, kaffir lime leaf, lemongrass and garlic sauce – were excellent. Great crunch but the chicken remained moist and tender inside. The sauce stuck nicely on the drumsticks and provided a nice garlicky punch.

The positives continued with the eggplant salad – grilled eggplant tossed with a dressing made of lime, fish sauce, rice powder, dried chili, mint, Thai basil and cilantro. The eggplant was nice and soft and the dressing was super flavourful – packing a punch both umami and sweet. Everyone really enjoyed this one.

The Mee Siam – fried rice vermicelli with a soya and crab paste sauce mixed with red peppers, chives, onions and bean sprouts – was solid and a nice compliment side dish to the rest. The fried rice had a nice little crunch to it that you want.

I am a big fan of bone marrow so when I saw the Phnom Penh bone marrow dish, I had to order it. Bone marrow with butter, hoisin sauce, kampot pepper, fried garlic, marinated onion and coriander leaves served with bone broth and vanilla Chinese fried bread. Nice flavour again to the dish – a good balance of sweetness and heat. The vanilla bread was surprising as well for now well it fit with the bone marrow. The only negative was the lack of much marrow on the bones – would have loved to see more there portion wise.

The biggest hit of the night was the Amok fish – lightly breaded cod with a red curry sauce with coconut milk, red peppers and fried taro strings. The fish was super flaky and tender and that sauce was excellent. Tons of flavour to pair with the fish. The dish lasted all of a few minutes on the table.

Our final plate was the stuffed chicken wings – boneless wings stuffed with thai sausage and brushed with turmeric, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass sauce. The sausage stuffing had some heat and stayed tender within the chicken wing. The lemongrass sauce brought some acidity which paired well here. Excellent dish.

Les Street Monkeys was the perfect spot for a group dinner. Everything was easy to share, very flavourful across the board and very reasonably priced. Food-wise, it cost us about 35$ each to cover everything we ate. That is a great deal for the quality of food we got. Cambodian-style cuisine is not something that is present readily in Montreal but I am happy we got to try it and that it is so close to my place if a craving ever hits!

Cheers!

Les Street Monkeys
3625 Rue Wellington
514 768 1818

Les Street Monkeys Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Nashville 2019 – Hattie B’s Hot Chicken

4 Jul

We have done pretty well in terms of experiencing Nashville foodwise but we still had one major piece left to try: The hot chicken sandwich. Now, for Quebecers like myself, a hot chicken sandwich means old style comfort food: shredded chicken served between white bread and covered in gravy and green peas. That is not Nashville hot chicken. In Nashville, this is a spicy fried chicken sandwich served with cole slaw, sauce and a pickle. The chicken is sauced using a cayenne powder-based spice paste. This sandwich is known for bringing some serious heat and is a must-have when in town. There are a few classic spots in town serving the sandwich. The closest to our airbnb was Hattie B’s Hot Chicken so we made our way over to see if we could handle the heat.

Hattie B’s is the more popular Hot Chicken chain at the moment so when we arrived at 1pm, we were faced with a huge line…. no choice, this was our last day to try the sandwich so we stood in-line for 90 mins (!!) to get our chance.

There is 5 spice levels available to the sandwich going from Southern (no heat) to Shut the Cluck Up (Burn Notice). I am a weakling so I chickened out and went to Medium only. The sandwich comes with one side. I went with the pimento mac and cheese and my buddy went with the red skin potato salad. Both were excellent sides – the salad is the perfect creamy side to cool off the heat of the chicken. I loved the mac and cheese as well – very gooey and creamy with the hint of heat from the pimento.

But honestly…. you don’t care about the sides, do you? What about the sandwich, you ask? The sandwich was excellent as a fried chicken sandwich. Great crunch to the chicken, very tender meat inside. The bread is nicely buttered and toasted and the slaw is a nice cooling agent. The heat on the chicken…. is something strong. Even medium, there is a heck of a kick at the end that hits right between the eyes. The friend went hotter than me but yeah it stings.

The hot chicken is a Nashville staple and a necessary stop for all foodies. Hattie B’s was an excellent version of the sandwich. Just plan yourself enough time to give it a try – because you won’t be the only one dying to try one.

Cheers!

Hattie B’s Hot Chicken
Various Locations
Nashville, TN

Hattie B's Hot Chicken Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Nashville 2019 – Rolf and Daughters

1 Jul

Coming back from Memphis, we had another night free for a dinner. Given our success with my pick of Husk the night before, I was given carte blanche to pick a different spot to try. Looking at all of the great restaurants that Nashville has to offer (which are quite a few), I decided to go with something outside of the ‘typical’ Southern fare but a current staple of the Nashville food scene, Chef Philip Krajeck’s Rolf and Daughters.

Located in a former boiling house at the Werthan Factory in the Germantown neighbourhood, Rolf and Daughters put Chef Krajeck on the map in Nashville and he has become a multiple winner of the James Beard award since. The restaurant is known for its mediterranean inspired cuisine using local Tennessee ingredients and producers. Chef Krajeck’s homemade pastas are particularly noteworthy apparently.

The space is a beautiful mix of industrial and modern touches. Being the late service on a weekday, the restaurant wasn’t too crowded. I will give tons of credit to our waiter – he was sharp, on-point and bitterly funny and dry with a sort of midwest/Minnesota nice accent that we throughly enjoyed all night. His cocktails choice were also excellent – I loved how all the house cocktails were named for school things. A quirky but fun detail.

Now, onto the food. We were quite hungry so we covered lots of ground menu wise. The house-made loaf of sourdough bread served with seaweed butter was excellent – great crust on the outside with a soft yeast interior.

The salad of red beet, kohlrabi, dill and smoked roe was great. The red beets were super sweet and tender. The dill and roe provided some freshness and bite to the dish as well.

The dry aged beef tartare mixed with black garlic and sprouted lentils was unique for us for the use of the lentils in the tartare. It provided an interesting textural component to the dish. The beef had a great deep rich flavour and the black garlic provided a nice kick as well.

Our final appetizer featured something I had never heard of before: agretti. This small Italian-in-origin herb tastes somewhat like spanish and was served to us slightly cooked down mixed with golden raisin, chili and anchovies. This dish was quite something – a wonderful mix of sweetness, spiciness, richness and freshness. Something I never would have considered simply by reading the menu but very happy that I got our waiter to explain it to us. My favourite dish of the first part of the meal.

Given Chef Krajeck is known for his pastas, of course, we ordered a couple of his staples within our main courses. First was the cecamariti served using cultured butter and black pepper like a cacio e pepe dish. The pasta was super tender but wow that sauce…. it tastes like one of the best cacio e pepe sauces I’ve ever had but there is zero cheese. It is all the cultured butter. It has the creamy richness with the bite of the pepper you want. So so good.

The second pasta we tried was the garganelli verde served with a heritage pork ragout and sarvecchio parmesan. Again, the pasta itself was excellent texture wise and the ragout was superb – very rich and hearty. It is funny that some of the best dishes I’ve had were in Nashville but hey props to them for nailing these dishes so well.

Our last main ventured away from pasta as we tried the pastured chicken served with preserved lemon and garlic confit. The chicken was super tender and moist. The combination of the lemon, garlic, butter and tarragon provided a nice bright and rich pairing with the chicken. Very well executed.

After all of that we still wanted some dessert so we split 3 of their 4 offerings. First up, the one that we enjoyed but that wasn’t as impacted as the others – the Japanese cheesecake with pine put, strawberries and sorrel. Beautiful presentation, the flavour was fine but we didn’t love the texture – a little too ‘dry’ for our liking.

The next two though….. first, the sourdough ice cream topped with huckleberries and chocolate. Yeah sourdough ice cream sounds weird but man it worked so well. Very cool yeast flavour came through within the ice cream. Chocolate and berry topping always works well with ice cream so that was a perfect adjunct to the dish.

The last dessert was even crazier – a rhubarb granita served with a sake mousse, mint sorbet and almond. The real star here was the mousse – so light and fluffy with the unmistakable notes of sake. Our waiter described it as a cloud and yeah that’s right. It complemented well the freshness of the mint sorbet and the sourness of the rhubarb. Excellent finish to our meal.

Rolf and Daughters has high praise around Nashville and I can see why. Excellent service, beautiful space and food that really surprises and delights whose are open to try some different stuff. The 3 of us left full and very happy to have made our way out to Germantown to experience something a little different than what we had planned for when we decided to visit Nashville. This was an excellent experience and definitely worth a stop. In the end, it is the meal I will remember most of our time in Nashville.

Cheers!

Rolf and Daughters
700 Taylor Street
Nashville, TN
615 866 9897

Rolf and Daughters Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Memphis 2019 – Central BBQ

28 Jun

Day 2 of our trip brought us to Memphis as we needed to see Graceland and the King. And of course, since we were in Memphis, we needed some more BBQ so I looked up some locations for classic Memphis BBQ and that brought us to Central BBQ – a more recent player in the scene but one that has been getting great reviews from locals and that has expanded to multiple locations around Memphis.

Similar to Martin’s BBQ in Nashville, you order at the counter and then go find a seat. The servers bring out your order and find you with a number marker. This particular location – located in East Memphis – from a decor point of view really feels like a fast food location which fits the strip mall setting where it is located. It is nice enough but doesn’t have the cool vibe of Martin’s we saw. However, this is all about the BBQ so if the food is great, who cares about the decor, right?

Like our previous experience, we grabbed three different meats with a choice of two sides each to cover as much of the menu as possible. First up, a full slab of ribs served wet (with sauce) – we went with half mustard sauce and half sweet BBQ sauce – served with onion rings and BBQ beans. The ribs were excellent – super tender and rich. The sauces were great as well. I enjoyed the tang of the mustard sauce which is something we don’t see much back home. The sides were okay but not great. The onion rings had too much batter relative to the onion itself. The beans had good flavour but compared to the ones we had in Nashville, these were more liquid in consistency and less smoky.

Our second plate was sliced smoked beef brisket with fries and slaw. The brisket was different than in Nashville – served more thinly in longer ribbons. The texture was different – more closely to cold cuts but the flavour was equally as good as in Nashville – great smoke and meatiness. We paired it with some of the BBQ sauce which worked very well. The fries were fine but nothing more. I liked the slaw though – a little creamier which I enjoyed.

Our final plate was some pulled pork served with some home-cooked pork rinds and mac n’ cheese. The pulled pork was excellent – the texture was more pulled than in Nashville and had some more ‘bark’ to it which was a nice texture contrast. Great smokiness and tenderness to it. This was the hit of the table. The mac n’cheese was creamy and rich which I enjoyed. The pork rinds were very crunchy and light but honestly didn’t really feel like a side I wanted with BBQ. It was interesting to try but not a big hit.

Central BBQ also had dessert so we shared two slices of cake: coconut cake and 5 layer chocolate cake. Both cakes were moist and very rich. This was pure gluttony but frankly at this point why not, right?

Central BBQ was a very worthy stop on your way to Graceland. We got more Southern BBQ which made us very happy. Definitely worth it for the meats and the different sauces. The sides were more hit or miss but again, the meat is the key in BBQ. You won’t be disappointed there if you spot by.

Cheers!

Central BBQ
Various Locations
Memphis, TN

Central BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Nashville 2019 – Husk

26 Jun

When planning our Boys trip to Nashville, there was one place I wanted badly to try out for dinner. I had heard about Husk and Chef Sean Brock through some articles and most recently the last season of Chef’s Table. Although he is not longer really involved with Husk since 2018, I loved the premise of how Husk looked to reconnect with the basic tenants of Southern cuisine and heirlooms ingredients. My knowledge of Southern cuisine from Montreal leans heavily towards fried chicken, bbq, etc. so the idea of a ‘different’ kind of Southern meal really intrigued me. So I convinced my friends that Husk would be our first dinner in Nashville.

Located on Rutledge Hill, a few blocks south of the ‘Historic’ Nashville and Broadway St, Husk is housed in an old Southern home built between 1879 and 1882 that at one point was the home of Mayor Richard Houston Dudley when he was first elected in 1897. The house is beautiful and evokes that old Southern mansion feel with the high ceiling, crown mouldings, old fireplaces and its old arched brick entranceway and porch. The kitchen is open in the middle of the first floor and there are different seating areas elsewhere in the house – including a bar area in the basement.

As mentioned before, Husk is all about exploring the reality of Southern food through the use of heirloom items, in-house pickling and charcuterie creation amongst other means. The menu is an interesting mix of ‘classic’ Southern dishes and dishes that use local producers and ingredients to create some cool plates with a Southern bend.

Our appetizers were an interesting blend of these ideas. First up, a more refined take on shrimp and grits – beautifully tender shrimp with some rich and creamy cheesy grits. A perfect combination that finally made sense to me trying here in this setting.

We then had the hickory smoked wings with Alabama white sauce. The wings were crispy and tender. I loved the spice mix overtop which provided tons of smoky heat. This was paired with the Alabama White Sauce which is a zesty and tangy white BBQ sauce which I had never had before but found to be wonderful with the smoky hot wings.

We shared a hearth cornbread as well which was excellent – not too dry and had a nice sweetness and hardiness to it. I’ve always enjoyed cornbread so it was great to finally one in its area of origin.

Lastly for the starters, we had a plate of Tennessee charcuterie with cheddar biscuits, spicy rilettes and pickles. The charcuterie was excellent – tons of great rich flavours and textures. The spicy rillettes were excellent as well and I just love a good cheddar biscuit – super buttery and flaky with that hint of cheesy goodness. Round 1 was in the books and we were very happy so far.

Our mains continued the great use of local southern produce. First up, we had some North Carolina catfish served with blue barley berry cornbread, peaches, snap peas and basil butter. The fish was amazing – super flaky and tender. The cornbread was more of a corn pancake but excellent regardless. The peaches added a touch of sweetness and the basil butter was super interesting – a combination of richness but with a hint of coolness and freshness. Excellent dish all around.

Our second dish was seared Bear Creek Farm beef served with Farmer Dave tomatoes, ramp kraut and embered okra. Personally for the table, the thickness of the beef was such that it was served a little too rare which made it less enjoyable to chew. The rest of the dish was excellent – I really loved trying okra in this fashion. It had none of the sliminess that many people associate with that vegetable.

Our main final was grilled Bear Creek Farm pork served with Farmer Dave spaghetti squash, smoked spring onion and pork belly. An excellent cut of meat cooked perfectly. I loved the addition of the pork belly overtop to provide a different texture and that paired well with the sweetness from the smoked onion.

After all of this, we were stuffed but we saw this on the dessert menu and couldn’t help but want to try it: Oatmeal raisin cookie soft serve with RC cola marshmallow and rum raisin caramel. A very unique idea for ice cream but the flavour really came through and caramel and the sweet marshmallow with the little roasted top matched well to it. Great finish for our meal.

Husk met my expectations and become a wonderful discovery for my friends. It was great to try Southern cuisine in a different way than what I was used to. We left full, happy and looking forward to what else Nashville had in store for us.

Cheers!

Husk
37 Rutledge St.
Nashville, TN
615 256 6565

Husk Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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