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

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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

Nashville 2019 – Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint

25 Jun

Earlier this month, I spent an amazing 5 days in Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee for a boys trip. And of course, I had to find some great options for food. First up, we needed some BBQ so I looked up the best BBQ joints in Nashville and thus we found ourselves at Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint where they do whole hog BBQ West Tennessee style – smoked starting the day before, not sauced pre-serving and served with a vinegar-based sauce.

There are multiple locations across Nashville and even further in Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky and South Carolina. We went to the downtown location located a few blocks south of Broadway St. The space is an old warehouse and has a very cool beer garden vibe to it including a beautiful 2nd floor outdoor seating, bar and stage area. The ordering process is pretty simple – you get in-line, order at the counter and then find a seat. The servers will find you using a number card.

Being three guys, we decided to cover as many options as we could within reason. We decided on plates of baby back ribs, pulled pork shoulder and sliced beef brisket. Each meat plate came with 2 sides of your choice. We made a slight mistake and ordered the same side twice but otherwise we covered most of the side options through our choices.

Our first plate was the ribs served with baked beans and french fries. The ribs were absolutely delicious – very tender, awesome smoke ring to them and covered in a smoky sweet BBQ sauce. The fries were solid with a good crunch to them but still tender and nicely seasoned from the beginning. The baked beans were a huge hit with a deep rich smoky flavour. Honestly some of the best I have ever had in a restaurant.

Our second plate was the pulled pork shoulder with an cornbread hoecake and the mac n’ cheese. The pulled pork looks dry in the picture but that is because there is no sauce to them. Believe me though, the pork was super tender. The vinegar sauce added a nice kick and brightness to the pork without overpowering the inherent flavour of the pork. The hoecake is essentially a cornmeal pancake which was fine but nothing special honestly. The mac n’cheese was not as gooey as I would have liked but the flavour was nice regardless.

The final plate saw us try the sliced beef brisket with some vinegar slaw. The slaw was fine overall but the real star here was the brisket – by far the best thing we had in this meal. Super amazing smoke ring on the beef, great deep flavour and super tender texture to the beef. Simply amazing.

This was our first meal in Nashville and oh man was it a great start. Super amazing Tennessee BBQ all around. If ever you are in Nashville, you should definitely head to Martin’s.

Cheers!

Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint
Various Locations
Nashville, TN

Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cadet

20 May

My wife decided to surprise me this week with a date night. All I knew was that we were going to eat somewhere but she kept it a secret until we headed out. After a short metro ride, we found ourselves in the Quartier des Spectacles district at Cadet, the second restaurant from the group that started the excellent Bouillon Bilk. I had mentioned Cadet to my wife at some point recently – I mention many restaurants throughout our conversations so I didn’t remember exactly when I did so props to her for the wonderful idea.

As mentioned before, Cadet is the second restaurant from the team behind Bouillon Bilk – chef François Nadon and Mélanie Blanchette. They are known for refined and imaginative dishes with great vine choices in a chic and modern minimalistic setting. Cadet fits that description to a T but with more of a sharing plates approach. Cadet has been called a wine bar in some reviews but I don’t think that really gets at what Cadet does. It is more of a “Tapas” bar than a traditional wine bar but regardless – the wine list is extensive and the menu lends to sharing. We were recommended 5-6 dishes between the two of us.

The meal started off with a pair of cod croquette served with a buttermilk and dill dipping sauce. Some of the best we have had in the city – fully packed with tons of cod filling with a great crunch on the exterior. The dipping sauce had a subtle dill flavour and the creamy richness paired well.

The next dish was the kind of ingredient combination that this kitchen is known for and that from the outside, seems odd a bit but man it works so well : Broccoli with späetzle, labneh and pistachios. Great mix of textures and tons of flavour all around. I particularly loved how the labneh and späetzle – two items I had very little experience with – mixed together. A big hit for us.

The next set of dishes stayed along a similar path. First, parnsip served over rösti with sauerkraut, sour cream and juniper berries. The crunchy rösti served as a nice base to pair with the vinegary mixture of parsnip and sauerkraut and the cooling nature of the sour cream. We both really enjoyed this dish.

The next one on paper was super weird: Crab served with pineapple, sour cream, green onions, chips and lettuce. My wife didn’t love it but I really enjoyed it. There was some heat to this dish from somewhere so the use of the pineapple and the sour cream creates a nice contrast on each bite.

The next dish was our disappointment for the night – fingerling potatoes served with chimichurri and mayonnaise. Compared to the rest of the meal, this dish lacked kick in all phases. The potatoes were too big and lacked the crunch you really wanted. The chimichurri didn’t have the acidic bite so the contrast between that and the creamy mayo wasn’t as interested as he had hoped for.

The final dish made up for that slight disappointment. The best of the night: seared blood sausage served over basmati rice, squash, pumpkin seeds and green chili. Such a great usage of blood sausage. So unique and so very flavorful. The richness of the sausage, the crunch of the seeds, the heat from the chili, the calming nature of the rice. Loved every bite of this dish!

Cadet was as hoped for: an excellent setting with great food, great wine and spot-on service all night. My wife did very well with her surprise choice. Now I need to up my game for the next date night! 😉

Cheers!

Cadet
1431 St-Laurent
514 903 1631

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

Épicerie Pumpui

15 May

One wouldn’t exactly expect to head up to Little Italy for some good Thai food but that is exactly where I found myself over the last few weekends – being drawn to St-Zotique street by the call of curry and chicken wings. Épicerie Pumpui is a ‘lan khao gangs’ – a combination curry shop and grocery store that is common in Thailand but mostly nonexistent in North America and certainly here in Montreal. Chef Jesse Mulder – who had run Thai delivery service Chak Wow prior to opening this brick and mortar spot – and his partners opened up Pumpui a little less than 2 years ago.

The space is very casual in style – with about 12 seats in-house and ordering at the counter. The small grocery section sells a variety of Thai ingredients and items. The menu is relatively small – 5 ready to serve options and then another 5 or 6 a la carte items. The menu consists mostly of curries and more obscure dishes for a North American audience as well as a few other ‘classic’ dishes like Pad Thai and green curry.

First off, I went with the fried chicken wings with sweet chili sauce. Pumpui has developed a reputation for these and yeah I can see why. These were amazing – super crunchy skin, very tender inside and a nice sweet heat coating them. I just needed more!

After the wings, I decided to try the Curry Hunglay – a Burmese pork belly, shallot and ginger curry. Had never heard of this dish until I saw it on the menu and enjoyed it tremendously. Very generous portion overall. The curry was mildly spiced which suited my relatively weak spice palette. A nice combination of richness, sweetness and spice. The pork belly was super tender as were the shallots which was a different way for me to enjoy them. An excellent discovery for me.

On my second visit, I started with a Hibiscus mint iced tea which was very bright and refreshing.

I then decided on the Asii Pian – a dry curry of chicken, thai eggplant, tomatoes, lemongrass and galangal from the Shan region. I had never heard of galangal which is more citrus and piney version of ginger. Very different flavour which came through strongly with the sharp lemongrass notes. Again, like the previous curry, tons of flavour and a very hardy portion. Another hit for me.

Given how the majority of true Thai restaurant in the city are more formal affairs, it is great to have such a great Thai counter service to get great flavourful and more unique curry for a quick lunch, takeout or dinner. I know it seems weird to head to Little Italy for Thai cuisine but believe me, it is well worth it.

Cheers!

Épicerie Pumpui
83 Rue Saint-Zotique E
514 379 3024

Épicerie Pumpui Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

TRAN Cantine Vietnamienne

8 May

The joys of the Montreal food scene is when you get a ‘weird’ craving, you can actually easily find a spot to satisfy said craving. We are blessed with so many options and variety in our fair city. A couple of weeks ago, I got a craving for pho. Maybe it was the colder than usual weather. Maybe it was just because it had been too long since my last bowl. Either way, I wanted some pho. Luckily for me, there is actually a pho place close to my house which I hadn’t tried yet so what a perfect time to head over to St-Henri and check out TRAN Cantine Vietnamienne.

Cantine TRAN is located on the corner of Notre Dame and De Courcelle – just on the edge of the ridiculous food strip that is Notre Dame street in St-Henri. The place is simple in decor – other than the huge fish tank by the washrooms. The space is very bright through the lighting both artificial and natural from the large windows in front. Seating is for about 15-20 people. There is also delivery service through UberEats or takeout if you wish which it what I went for.

The menu is a variety of classic Vietnamese dishes. First up, a couple of different roll options. Their spring roll of chicken, shrimp, vermicelli, mint and cilantro served with peanut sauce was very bright and fresh. A classic starter roll. The peanut sauce had a nice sweet flavour which paired well with the roll. The imperial rolls – pork, mushroom, onion, carrot and vermicelli deep-fried – were okay. Good crunch but they didn’t really pop flavour wise.

Being a Vietnamese shop, of course they also have Banh Mi sandwiches on the menu so I needed to try one as well. Served in a fresh baguette with pickled carrots and daikon radishes, cucumber, scallions, soy sauce, cilantro and housemate mayo, TRAN offers a choice of chicken, pork, beef or soybean curd in their sandwiches. I went with grilled chicken on this occasion and it was amazing. Probably the best Banh Mi I have had in town – excellent bread with a perfect combination of acidity, sweetness and freshness. Very very good.

And finally we have the pho – the actual source of my craving. TRAN offers the option of either beef flanc, rare beef, chicken or soybean curd. It is a chicken based broth served with fresh rice noodles, onion, cilantro, scallions and fresh chilis, basil and bean sprouts on the side. This was exactly what I was looking for. Super flavourful and clean broth, nice tender noodles and an excellent portion. It is amazing that I can get such good pho so close to home.

TRAN is an excellent spot for great Vietnamese food. Whether for a sandwich or some pho, I think you will be very happy with your experience. St-Henri continues to be a great food haven for the Sud-Ouest part of Montreal and I, for one, am very happy for that. Now on to the next craving 😉

Cheers!

TRAN Cantine Vietnamienne
4690 Rue Notre-Dame O
514 379 4690

TRAN Cantine Vietnamienne Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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