Maggie Oakes

28 Jan

January in Montreal brings forth certain ideas to mind as Montrealers. For some, it is the %$?#ing snow and all that comes with it. For those who are looking to party, January means it is Igloofest. And for those of a more food specific point of view, January means Happening Gourmand is back in the Old Port. In its 11th year, Happening Gourmand is a event run by the Antonopoulos Group where they offer a discounted table d’hôte in their 9 Old Montreal restaurants. Basically MTL à Table but only theirs. Interesting enough as it is a chance to check out some interesting spots in the Old Port at a price that you don’t get to enjoy often in the Old Port. For the occasion of the birthdays of a couple of dear friends, we found ourselves at Maggie Oakes for dinner – curious what we would get for our money.

Maggie Oakes is located on a prime spot in Place Jacques-Cartier on the first floor of the William Gray boutique Hotel. It is apparently inspired by American bistros and steakhouses and strongly focuses on dry aged meats. Visually, the space is worthy of the Old Port. Very glamorous look – a mixture of marble, walnut and brass with a clear glass dry age meat cooler and wine cellar as well as a green wall where they appear to grow fresh herbs and micro-greens. The space is rather large but surprisingly wasn’t too noisy despite us being present on a busy Friday night.

For Happening Gourmand, we had access to a three course meal for 31$. We could still order extra off the regular menu so we started with some fresh Raspberry point oysters. Nice, fresh and a little salty – perfect start to the night.

For starters, we tried both options available. First was a butternut squash soup served with crab salad and fresh herbs. Nice creamy texture with a surprising kick of spice to it. I really enjoyed the addition of the crab to mix. The butternut squash flavour came through nicely although I didn’t get that hint of caramelized sweetness I was expecting.

Next was the smoked duck tartare with candied orange, peppers and pickled vegetables. Classic presentation and very well done overall. The duck was beautiful – its inherent fatty richness perfectly showcased here. I liked the use of the candied orange to add that nice sweetness that works so well with duck.

For mains, I first went with the handmade cavatelli served with wild mushrooms, cream sauce, tarragon and pecorino cheese. Excellent pasta dish. The pasta was cooked well and the cream sauce had the right mix of richness without being overwhelming. The mushroom added some nice earthiness and the pecorino a hint of sharpness. Very enjoyable.

My fiancé went with the slow cooking beef short ribs served with roasted Jerusalem artichokes and mashed sweet potatoes. The meat was perfectly fall off the bone good. Tender and very flavourful. The roasted veggies and the sweet mash are classic pairs with braised beef so of course they worked very well here.

For the last course, we had two options and tried both. Neither one really wowed us… especially compared to the previous courses. The raspberry cheesecake – a cream cheese mousse with vanilla, almond biscuit and raspberry confit – looked beautiful and tasted fine but didn’t leave much of a mark.

The chocolate cake – a chocolate biscuit with creamy dark chocolate and cream mounted chocolate milk – came off as dry. The cream was excellent but if the base isn’t solid, that doesn’t really matter.

Maggie Oakes was for 2 courses out of 3 a very pleasant surprise. The quality of food as well as the quantity was excellent and made for a great meal. The dessert course brought things back down to earth but overall, I can definitely recommend Maggie Oakes if one is looking to spend a nice evening in the Old Port. You will definitely be in the heart of the action.

Cheers!

Maggie Oakes
426 Place Jacques-Cartier
514 656 6000

Maggie Oakes Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Foxy

24 Jan

Special occasions call for a certain kind of restaurant. A place of intimacy and finesse with killer food and a certain coolness as well. We are lucky in Montreal to have many places that suit these criteria. For this particular occasion – My fiancé and I celebrating our anniversary – we chose to try a restaurant in our neighbourhood that I had been dying to try – Foxy.

Located on the restaurant row that is Notre Dame Street in St-Henri and Little Burgundy, Foxy is the sister restaurant of Old Port staple bakery Olive+Gourmando. The space is long and narrow with an open kitchen about midway with lots of low lighting and a beautiful bar straight across. I had heard that the room could get very loud and noisy at times but we were there on a quiet night so that wasn’t at all an issue.

Foxy’s menu works around grilling over a live fire or roasting in a wood-burning oven. The menu is smallish but every dish inspired interest from both of us. We first started with a couple of entrées. The winter coleslaw composed of brussel sprouts, savoy cabbage, apple, duck confit and celery root puree was a big hit for me. Beautiful presentation and a very hearty portion as a appetizer. The flavour of the duck came through primarily but each of the other element brought something nice in terms of flavours and texture. The addition of what seemed like a cider vinaigrette added a nice acidic kick to top it all off. Probably as great a winter salad as I have had.

Our second dish was roasted cauliflower served with turmeric, zoug yogurt, fried shallots and almonds. Another hit for us – tons of flavours coming through with the roasted vegetable, the crunchy sweetness of the shallots, the heat of the turmeric and the coolness of the yogourt. Another hearty portion as well.

The positive vibes continued through the main courses. I went with the herb sausage served with pecorino cheese, mashed potatoes, blackened brussel sprouts and house gravy. Delicious from beginning to end. The herb sausage was surprisingly spicy but the addition of the cheese paired well with that. The mash and gravy mix is always a good one and more lovely roasted sprouts didn’t hurt either.

My fiancé went with the charcoal grilled sea bass served with aioli and cucumber celery salad. The charred sea bass was beautiful and had such a great grilled flavour to it. Just add a little lemon and we’re good. Even better though was the house aioli – great consistency and very strong flavour. Perfect complement to the fish. I don’t care much for a cucumber salad but my fiancé loved it so we’re good 😉

Dessert options seemed wonderful – the chocolate bourbon brownie had me at hello – but the portions of our dishes were so generous that we were completely full and needed to pass…. Too bad but a good sign otherwise! Add to that great food very solid service throughout the night and we left Foxy very satisfied with our meal and our choice of venue for our occasion. We continued to get spoiled in Montreal for the quality of our restaurants. Foxy quickly made its way up our list of go-tos. The fact that we can walk to it from our place just makes it even better. Now I guess I should finally go to Olive+Gourmando now…..

Cheers!

Foxy
1638 Notre Dame Ouest
514 925 7007

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

Larrys

10 Jan

What is the ideal neighbourhood restaurant? Well… one imagines a small cozy place where you feel equally as comfortable just grabbing a drink and a snack or a full meal. A place that caters to all hours… not just a breakfast place or a dinner place. You want it to be accessible to everyone – somewhere you could see parents bring their kids on the weekend just as much as the young profession couple. And the food needs to great of course. Do such places exist? Well…. Mile End might have a good one based on my visits to Larrys.

Located in the old Cafe Sardine space on Fairmount, just east of the Main, Larrys is the little brother of the wonderful Lawrence restaurant just next door. I suppose you could call it a coffee shop by day and a wine bar by night but that strikes me somewhat as reductive and not truly indicative of what Larry’s offers. Larrys offers food options for breakfast, lunch and dinner from 8am to 1pm every day as well as a great selection of beer, cocktails and wine. The space is small but very warm and welcoming. I love the use of the accent wall in the back and the huge shelving unit behind the bar. Definitely has the feel of place you could stay in all day.

On our first visit, we went early so we went for the breakfast options. My girlfriend went with a combination of the breakfast muffin with a plate of smoked salmon. The breakfast muffin was a combination of apple, nuts, cinnamon, oatmeal and flour. A very hardy and satisfying muffin. The smoked salmon was equally enjoyable. Much thicker than your typical smoked salmon but still with that lovely texture and taste.

I myself went with the breakfast sandwich and a side-order of bubble and squeak. I have loved it when I ate at Lawrence for brunch and it continues to be excellent. A pork sausage patty with melted cheese, a over-easy egg, lettuce and dijon mustard on a english muffin. The bite of the dijon is a nice touch to the classic egg sausage sandwich. The bubble and squeak – a mixture of mashed potatoes and cabbage that has quickly become a personal favorite of mine – was nicely cooked and provided some hearty accompaniment to the sandwich.

The second time around, we were there for more of a brunch/lunch situation so ordered outside of the breakfast options. Hence, I ordered a corpse reviver – gin, lillet, amara, lemon and absinthe. It may have been 11 am at the time of order but no judging okay? Great balance and flavour – nice way to start the meal.

We still ordered the breakfast sandwich of course…. and it was still delicious. We also went with a plate of rillettes. Their butcher shop down the street has had great rillettes for years now so this was going to be a hit for sure. Great flavour and texture. Some people may find them too fatty but not me. Always excellent.

We then shared a trio of “lunch” dishes. First, roasted carrots with honey and muhamarah. The carrots were roasted perfectly and I loved the combination of the honey with the spicy but slightly sweet muhamarah. The fried potatoes were nicely golden and crispy. A touch of garlic and parsley came through and then you add a creamy mayo for dipping. An excellent side dish. The final dish was bulgur and pickled eggplant – a solid dish but probably the one that we enjoyed the least. Came across a little too vinegary from the pickled eggplant.

I love everything about Larrys. It helps that I love everything else that the group behind Lawrence does but still… there is something so wonderful about a place that can cater at all hours with a cuisine that is high quality and yet feels very homey and comfortable. If I lived in Mile End, I would definitely see Larrys as my neighbourhood hangout – the place to go for a drink, or a quick bit, or simply to get some work or enjoy a conversation with friends. Larrys nails the neighbourhood restaurant template perfectly.

Cheers!

Larrys
9 Fairmount Est

Larry’s Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Brasseur de Montreal

5 Dec

For local beer fans, the name Brasseur de Montreal is definitely one you will know. The Griffintown-based brewer is a staple of the local microbrew scene and is a personal favorite of mine. However, what you may not know is that they have a full restaurant at their Griffintown brewery. Despite it being so close to my place, I hadn’t visited yet. I found myself there on a Saturday night with a small group curious to see if the food matchs the quality of the beer.

The space is rather big – very industrial in look with a window to the kettles behind the bar. They also have a great terrasse space but this being November at the time, not really the right time to enjoy it. On tap, you can find all their beers and some seasonal stuff…. or at least usually because on this occasion, many options were not available – such as all of their white beers. Not quite what you want from a brewpub. At least I could still get a classic Griffintown blond but that shouldn’t happen ever.

As a starter, we went for the BdM sweet potato fries with chives, garlic, parmesan and spicy mayo. Pretty good overall. The fries were crunch yet not overcooked inside. The mayo had a nice little kick to it. Solid starter. We also got to try the house made fried calamari served with chipotle mayo. Another solid dish – nice crunch to them but they kept the tenderness you want from calamari.

For mains, my fiancé went with the smoked and fresh salmon tartar mixed with apple, chives, sour cream and yogourt. Nice portion size and good presentation. The salmon was fresh and the mix of the smoked salmon is an interesting idea to bend into the tartare however the whole dish felt like it lacked flavour and seasoning – the taste of chives and apples were no where to be seen. The portion of fries that came with it was generous. The salad was okay but didn’t bring much.

I decided to go with the pulled pork sandwich – smoked pork shoulder served with bbq sauce, onion compote and gruyere. The pork itself was nice and tender, good smoke to it. The bbq sauce had a nice mix of sweet but smoky however the sandwich could have used more of it. The sandwich felt a little dry as a result. I enjoyed the use of gruyere and the sweetness of the compote worked well. The fries were also plentiful and very good – always love matchstick style.

I left the dinner a little disappointed. The food was okay – good but the lack of seasoning is what can make the difference between a good meal and a great meal. Brasseur de Montreal have great beer and clearly a great terrasse to enjoy – I just wish I could say the same for the food.

Cheers!

Brasseur de Montreal
1485 Rue Ottawa
514 788 4500

Brasseur de Montreal Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Toqué

4 Dec

Montreal’s place in the world as a culinary hotspot has everything to do with the amazing chefs and restauranteurs that our fair city is lucky to have. And I would argue that no one has done as much to build the Montreal scene as ‘The Godfather of Montreal Fine Dining’ as per Anthony Bourdain – Normand Laprise. Chef Laprise, previously through Citrus and now Toqué, helped push the use of Quebec produce year round in restaurants and helped developed some of the city’s best chefs including Martin Picard.

With all its accolades and prestige, Toqué has been top of my ‘to-do’ list for a while now but I hadn’t found the time to finally visit…. until recently when I got a reservation for MTLàTable this year. So, my fiancé and I got dressed up and made our way down to the Old Montreal to see if my expectations could be met.

Originally on St-Denis street, Toqué relocated in 2004 to The Quartier International of Montreal across the street from the Palais des Congres. The room itself is refined and much bigger than I expected. The room also feels more vacant. The tables are separated apart enough that you never really feel like there is anyone else around you and the restaurant never feels full despite there not being any tables free. The service throughout the night was impeccable – very professional and attentive. The kind of touches you hope to see in a fine dining establishment and that Toqué does very well.

For MTLàTable, Toqué was proposing a 3 course meal with a couple of options at each course. First up, I tried one of the cocktails they were offering for the occasion. The Adam and Eve – Apple Brandy, cider with clove, cardamome and anise syrup – was excellent. A nice balance of apple acidity, sweetness and the spice notes of the cloves and cardamome.

A little amuse-bouche was provided to start – tuna tartare with fennel seed – as well as fresh house baked bread.

For appetizers, we started with the deer carpaccio topped with marinated squash, oyster mushrooms, walnuts and parmigiana reggiano cheese. Beautiful presentation as one would expect from a restaurant of this caliber. The meat itself was sliced amazingly thin, very tender and flavourful on its own. The addition of the fall veggies, the fresh reggiano and some olive oil really made it pop and provided some nice contrasts of both texture and flavour. A Toqué classic for a reason.

Our other appetizer was stripped bass rilettes served with a bread tuile, dill and kohlrabi. Once again, excellent technique on display. The rillettes, using potato as the binder, were very nicely done with great rich flavour and a nice texture. I really enjoyed how the bass came through so nicely in a dish that I associate more with meat versus fish.

As a main, the duck breast was screaming out to me. Served with roasted squash, black garlic puree, wild rice, pleurotes and herbed jus – the duck was simply exquisite. Perfect cook on it and great flavour. The jus has great depth. I enjoyed the touch of the black garlic as well. And of course, beautiful presentation – one of the best duck dishes I have had.

My fiancé went with the Icelandic Cod served with roasted potatoes, celeriac puree, rabiole, brussel sprouts, romanesco and truffle butter. The cod was beautifully tender and flaky. The lightness of the fish was nicely complimented by the rich puree and the glorious truffle butter. Truffles always make things better!

Dessert kept things going strong. First, a milk chocolate mousse incased in a chocolate ball shell with cacao granola, raspberry jelly and hay caramel. Great depth of chocolate flavour and beautiful presentation again. I liked the jelly being in the center of the ball of mousse.

Our other dessert was caramelized apple jelly served over praline and cinnamon sponge cake, cranberry poached apples, oatmeal and marscapone cream, speculoos crumble and oatmeal ice cream. Lots of elements demanding tons of precision and technique. It was amazing how well the caramelized apple taste came though in the jelly. The poached apples were delicious, the cream was rich and smooth and the ice cream very strong on oatmeal. Tons of fall flavours coming through. Great creative dessert. We also received some little bites at the end – sucre à la creme and some raspberry jellies. Very flavourful and a nice finishing touch to a great meal.

I had very high hopes going in and Toqué successfully met them and then some. Amazing service from beginning to end, wonderful food with high technique and presentation – you understand how Chef Laprise and his crew came to be known as the high-end of Quebec cuisine and how they are able to maintain that level of excellence after all these years. Toqué is a amazing place and we are very lucky to have them here in Montreal.

Cheers!

Toqué
900 Pl Jean-Paul-Riopelle
514 499 2084

Toqué! Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Casa Vinho

27 Nov

In our quest to find interesting ideas for a caterer for our wedding, my fiancé and I found ourselves somewhere pretty foreign to me: Masson street in Rosemont. I have been before – but mostly when I was a young kid visiting my great grandmother in the area. Otherwise, quite a dark zone in my city knowledge. We found ourselves there to visit Casa Vinho, a Portuguese restaurant working with wood charcoal – supplied by my future father-in-law – hence why we visited to see what maybe they could do for us from a catering point of view.

Casa Vinho is a family run restaurant that specializes in grilling on charcoal. The space is classic Portuguese restaurant decor – bright colors, lots of seaside paintings and other trinkets around Portuguese culture. Personally, I found the music a little too loud to have real conversation but otherwise no complaints.

Starting off, of course, I needed to go with the cod cakes. I can’t imagine going to a Portuguese restaurant and not ordering these. Nice crunch on these and good flavours but not the texture I love. The cod had a very smooth, pureed texture. I like more of the filament-like texture of the cod to come through.

Our other entrée was some grilled calamari – served with a pepper salsa on top. The calamari was excellent – nice and fresh. Beautifully firm but tender texture. Grilled nicely as well. The salsa brought a hint of acidity and sweetness to the dish. Hit the spot nicely.

Our first main was grilled squid served with roasted vegetables, rice and the pepper salsa again. The squid was exquisite. Great fresh flavour, nice sear on the outside and nice tenderness in general. The salsa once again worked well with the dish and the sides were plentiful. This is the kind of squid I hope to get when I order some. Wonderful.

And then, of course, we have the Portuguese chicken. First thing – the portion is huge. Very generous for the price. As for the chicken itself, it is wonderful. The chicken is moist and juicy. The skin is nicely crisp and charred from being grilled over wood charcoal. As I am a weakling, I went with the less spicy sauce. Nice heat still but with a subtle finish. The classic sides of salad and fries were great as well. Exactly what you want from this dish. Excellent dish all around.

To finish, I needed to get my Pasteis de Mata. Classic and wonderful as always. Great hint of vanilla within the custard. Nice flaky crust. A perfect classic finish to a solid meal.

Casa Vinho was a solid experience from beginning to end. Classic Portuguese is always delicious when done well and they definitely strike the right notes. While we didn’t go with them in the end for logistic reasons, I can definitely recommend them if you are looking for a nice meal in Vieux Rosemont.

Cheers!

Casa Vinho
3750 Masson
514 721 8885

Restaurant Casa Vinho Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Restaurant Gus

9 Oct

Sometimes the best nights are the ones you don’t plan for. After an caterer tasting felt through last minute, my fiancé and I found ourselves looking for a late night weekday dinner option. After looking through my ‘to-do’ list, we decided on a quick drive over to Beaubien street in Saint-Edouard at Restaurant Gus, ready to see what chef David Ferguson had in store for us. Formerly of restaurant Jolifou further down on Beaubien (now the crazy popular Chez Régine), Chef David opened up this small bistro-sized restaurant a few years ago now and has truly made it his own in style and cuisine.

Gus has a very warm and inviting look – the bright red walls really pop. The lighting is ample but subtle enough to create some intimacy. The bar is the focus of the room and is a great spot to observe the work being done by Chef David and his two sous-chefs. As you look around the room, you see tons of little touches that showcase what Chef David is about – the straw hats, the chilis hanging off the walls, the Habs artwork, the television over the bar showing playoff baseball through the night. Loved the space.

Foodwise, the menu is small – written on blackboards around the restaurant – and has a distinct southwest flavour to it. Prior to our meal, we got some great homemade sourdough bread to enjoy with a corn relish – sweet with a little kick. As our appetizer, we decided to share the marinated and grilled octopus and calamari salad with semi dried cherry tomatoes and marinated dried shallots. The salad was served colder than we expected but loved the flavours – tons of bright acidity with a touch of sweetness from the tomatoes. The octopus was very tender although my fiancé found it too soft personally. The calamari were grilled beautifully for both of us.

As a main, after having finding out that they had just run out of mussels, my fiancé went with the fish of the day, a grilled halibut, served with fried yuca and a tortilla soup. The fish was wonderfully tender and flaky, the broth was very flavourful and the use of the crunch of the tortillas and the yuca provided a nice contrast. Very nice dish.

On my end, I went with the bavette – marinated in a Asado-like sauce and served on a bed of potatoes en gratin with porcini mushrooms. Chef David is own for his grill work and you can tell why with this dish. The steak is perfectly grilled to medium-rare and the marinade gave the meat just a great deep flavour – a beautiful mix of heat, pepper and sweetness. The potatoes were rich and creamy and gave a nice counterpoint to the heat of the meat. One of the best bavettes I have ever had.

Gus definitely has the ‘neighbourhood steakhouse’ vibe down pat. An intimate but fun space. Friendly staff with Chef David holding court behind the bar. Great cuisine with that southwestern touch that makes it the Chef’s own. Gus is kind of restaurant one wants in their neighbourhood – a place that you would feel comfortable visiting daily but with food that fits for a special occasion. Nice combination don’t you think?

Cheers!

Restaurant Gus
38 Rue Beaubien Est
514 722 2175

Restaurant Gus Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Knox Taverne

8 Oct

I love my neighbourhood. Pointe-St-Charles offers so much to a resident in terms of location, proximity to the market, the old port, downtown, etc. However, as a neighbourhood that is developing, the main artery, Centre Street, leaves much to be desired. Over the past few years, businesses have slowly been opening, restaurant-bars included. One of the more interesting ones is Knox Taverne. A taverne on the eastern part of the street, it has developed a nice following around the neighbourhood for the atmosphere and the interesting food options it provides. As someone who wishes that local businesses thrive, I have been enough times now to write something up food wise.

Knox is a simple but nice looking room that really enhances the nature of the old building that houses it. The brick walls, the exposed wood beams, the incandescent lights, the beautiful long bar – the space is warm and intimate. Windowed garage doors create the possibility of opening up the space in the summer on top of having the terrasse on the side of the building. The music is also great – tons of classic rock with some more recent hits. When I spend all night wanting to sign along, your playlist is working.

Drinkwise, Knox has a nice beer and wine selection that is very reasonably priced. They also have an interesting cocktail menu – their Knox Gin and Tonic with house tonic is nicely balanced with a more floral touch.

Despite its more bar-like setting, the food really steps outside of typical bar food. First off, they have fresh oysters on thursdays and fridays at a buck per before 8pm. A pretty nice deal – and the quality is there!

On the appetizer side, I’ve had a few different options. The fish tacos with red cabbage coleslaw, tomatillo pico de gallo and chipotle mayonnaise are excellent. A hearty portion of tender flaky fish with a nice combination of heat and sweet with the pico de gallo and mayo. The Knox fries – tossed with garlic parmesan – are exactly my kind of fries. Thin with a nice crunch but still tender inside. The last side dish to note is the brussel sprouts. Yeah… brussel sprouts! Didn’t expect that at a tavern did you? Sautéed with a maple sauce and served with some radish and shallots, this is a great subtle dish with a mix of earthiness and sweetness – exactly how I love to work with sprouts myself.

As a main, the big favourite is the Knox Burger – served with Coca-Cola Mayo, Caramelized Onions, Fried Pickle and Old Cheddar. Other than the pickle (not a fan as I have indicated many times before), the rest of the burger is excellent. The sweetness of Coca-Cola actually comes out in the mayo. The burger is cooked to perfection and I love the use of the classic potato bun. On the other end of the main spectrum, they have a beet risotto served with a walnut pesto and parmesan shavings. No picture of that one but the bright purple of the dish may throw people off but it is an excellent dish and again, a surprising inclusion to a tavern manu but one that appears very appreciated of the patrons the times I have been there.

Great atmosphere, solid alcohol options, surprisingly interesting and refined cuisine with good prices and very quick and friendly service to boot… Knox is a great addition to the neighbourhood that caters well to both ends of the spectrum that our neighbourhood encompasses. Very happy to support this PSC business and I hope that it is a sign of times to come for my hood.

Cheers!

Knox Taverne
1871 Rue Centre
514 933 3523

Ice Cream Roundup – Pandan Creamery, La Diperie, Ca Lem

6 Aug

Summer time – it is hot, humid and we need to cool down. What better than a nice ice cream cone to make that happen? In Montreal, we have been spoiled over the past few years in terms of number of great ice cream shops that have opened up across the different neigborhoods. Wherever you live, you can get great artisan ice cream. I have already written about a few – my current champion is Dalla Rose by far – but over the past few weeks, I have tried a few other ones.

First up, Pandan Creamery moved this summer from their original location to Notre-Dame Street just west of the Atwater Market. Pandan brought to Montreal the Thai rolled up style of ice cream where they make it in front of you on frozen metal plaques and then create rolled-up logs in a cup for you.

Presentation wise, it is beautiful – almost rose-like in look – but that presentation takes time as it takes about 5 minutes for each order to be made. Not the end of the world but if there is a line-up when you arrive, remember that when you wonder why the line seems to last a while. The flavours changed daily – there were 8 different ones when we went. We decided to go with the mango ice cream topped with coconut flakes. The mango came through nicely however the texture is a little more brittle and grainy than I like personally. The other issue is that to eat it, you basically need it to melt a bit because there is no easy to eat rolled-up ice cream with a spoon. That makes Pandan a cool spot but with certain caveats for me.

Pandan Creamery
3504 Notre-Dame St W
514 588 6501

Pandan Creamery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Next, I finally tried La Diperie! Now, I know I am a few years behind on this one. What was originally one location on Pine Ave. has exploded this year as they franchised so now, in Quebec alone, there are 21 locations now. The opening of a St-Henri location made it easier for me to finally see what all the buzz is about.

La Diperie is know for their ridiculous dipped soft served cones topped with tons of topping. The amount of choices is a bit ridiculous in terms of both dips and toppings. Plus, they have speciality cones. I decided to go for one of their speciality cone and went for their Lime Key Pie sundae with lemonade lime dip and tea cookie topping. The soft serve vanilla texture wise was great – reminded me of classic Dairy Queen of my youth. Flavour was good as well. The dip was very flavourful and very mimicked key lime pie very well. The consistent of the dip allowed it to stiffen up perfectly around the soft serve so no issues cleanliness-wise but it was very sweet to the point of being a little overbearing.

The concept is good but it is clearly popular enough at this point but I think I need to try a few other sundae to see if the other dips are that sweet as well before I can make this place a to-go for me.

La Diperie
4600 Notre-Dame St W
514 379 1442

Lastly, I went to NDG to try CA LEM, a ice cream shop that was been getting great buzz for some of the cool and unique flavours that have been playing with. They have a variety of different ice cream and sorbets that ranges from normal to more unique. We tried their black sesame which is a weird to think about but worked really well. Just be aware that the blackness of the ice cream means that you will have a very dark tongue afterwards!

They also have a weekly soft serve and sorbet combo – on this week, courtesy of fellow blogger Jason Lee of Shut Up and Eat, it was Peanut Butter and Jelly – that childhood classic in cone form. No one I was going to miss that! The soft serve peanut butter was lucious and had a great nutty flavour. The strawberry sorbet was smooth and also had a great depth of flavour. Very enjoyable and very creative.

Ca Lem is a great spot in NDG and I love their interest in going special flavours. That creativity is always appreciated. If you are anywhere close, I highly recommend stopping in.

CA LEM
6926 Sherbrooke West

Ca Lem Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

So lots of ice cream to get excited about around the city – and that excludes some of the classic like Kem Koba, Havres Aux Glaces, my new favourite Dalla Rose, Aux Givres and many more. The key thing is find your favourite and savour a few cones before the season is over!

Cheers!

Marconi

6 Aug

Apparently when one turns 30, your birthday celebrations get stretched out so for the final act, my sister offered me a meal at a restaurant of my choice. Given both of our enjoyment of trying new places, I figured this would be a good opportunity to try a relatively new restaurant in the city that has had lots of buzz, Marconi.

Opened last December by owners Mehdi Brunet-Benkritly and partner Molly Superfine-Rivera, this local duo came back to Montreal after having worked in New York. Mehdi, as a chef, had headed two kitchens in two Greenwich Village restaurants: Chez Sardine and Fedora. When in Montreal prior to his time in New York, he had worked at Toqué and Au Pied de Cochon so the pedigree was very interesting.

The room is definitely interesting visually. The space was apparently a former dépanneur and so they kept some original features. The most unique would be an old wooden fridge turned into the wine cellar. There is also a patterned tin ceiling, white-washed wall tiles, a beautiful wooden bar, an open kitchen and all sorts of electic accents – I’m partial to the cheetah frame above the bar. Noise levels are a little high but with the great background tunes played overhead, it isn’t a problem. The vibe was great all night.

Superfine-Rivera is known for her cocktails so we had to start with a couple. Excellent balance for both. The ‘Penicillin’ had that smoky scotch note but with some sweetness and freshness from the ginger and honey. The Old Cuban had a similar sweet and fresh complex mixing rum with mint and green lemon. Great start.

The menu is relatively small and the plates are designed to share so we were recommended to get a few more than one each. No problem there! First up, a couple of bouchées – mimosa miso egg and cod croquettes. The eggs, served deviled-style, had a hint of the miso and a nice creamy texture. The croquettes were crunchy and very dense. The cod was delicious and the little mayo served it added some richness.

For true appetizers, we went with a trio. First, a plate of veal sweetbread with green peas, lemon puree and oxalis. I love sweetbreads so this was an easy sell for me. Beautifully golden and crunchy, these rich delights mixed with the zesty lemon was a nice pairing.

Next, the toast topped with whelk, bone marrow, aged cheddar and parsley was another hit for me. The mix of the whelk, the fatty marrow and the cheese worked surprisingly well. The bread had a nice crunch to it as well. My photography skills failed me here so no picture of this one. You will just have to take my word for it!

Last starter was a mixture of mushrooms served in brown butter with a poached egg. This was our favorite by far. The earthiness of the mushrooms came through so strongly and then you add the richness of the brown butter and the poached egg. Very lucious and a great finish to this course.

We slowed down a bit and went with only 2 mains. First was the ricotta gnocchi served with xeres, parmesan and basil. The gnocchi was good but personally not up to my standards when compared to another restaurants just a few streets over… however flavours were good, the xeres added some sweetness and the mountain of parmesan is always a welcomed addition. Solid dish.

The other main was the magret de canard served with burnt onion puree. The duck was cooked perfectly and had that great depth of flavour you want. I was very curious about the burnt puree – something I had never been exposed to before. Interesting texture overall with that slight charred texture coming through despite being pureed. The sweetness of the onions is still present but with a slight decrease in strength coming from the burning. Probably not everyone’s cup of tea but I enjoyed it and it worked well with the duck.

After all of this, we still felt the need for some desserts so we took two. First, the bowl of white chocolate, rhubarb and pistachio was a nice combo of sweetness and tart but the cream at the bottom was more basil so the strong flavour that came through was basil instead of the others. Good but not quite what was stated. The other dessert was a lemon and creme verveine with oats. Very generous portion and excellent texture on the cream. Both rich and smooth with a nice lemon kick. The oats were good to bring some crunch.

As a finisher to my birthday celebrations, Marconi was an excellent way to go. The vibe was great, drinks excellent and the food very enjoyable. Mild complain would be the time it took to be served between each dish but clearly the approach was to serve each dish one at a time to split before next one which is fine but it made the service longer than we expected. Marconi is a welcomed addition to the scene in Mile-Ex and definitely a place worth going back – not for birthday celebrations.

Cheers!

Marconi
45 Avenue Mozart Ouest
514 490 0777

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

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