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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

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 – 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

Tejano BBQ Burrito

7 Jan

My first experience of what I would qualify as true BBQ occurred a few years ago now when Blackstrap BBQ opened down in Verdun. I remember hearing about this new Southern BBQ joint opening and being interested enough to go on the first Friday they were open – getting in just before they ran out of meat – and being in awe of the level of smokiness and juiciness that the crew achieved with their meats. From that moment on, it was pretty clear to me that I would go whenever Dylan Kier and his pit mastery would go next. That thought process is what brought me a few times over the past month to his most recent project, a small burrito joint called Tejano BBQ Burrito.

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Located in St-Henri right beside Bar de Courcelles and nearby many of my favorite different culinary spots – quick shout out to Campinelli, Rustique, Leche and Grumman 78 – Tejano feels primarily set up as a take out joint although there is a small sitting area with about 7 stools. The space is sparse – plain white walls with old partially sanded down wood used for the counters. Some smooth laid back music in the background. The menu printed on paper tacked above the ordering counter. The look is definitely in keeping with its older brother Blackstrap BBQ – functional and sparse with just enough of a style and vibe keeping with a southern BBQ joint.

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But let’s be honest – you don’t go to a Burrito space for the decor. It’s all about the food of course. At present, the menu is short and concise – burritos (regular and XL sized), tostadas, salads, guac, salsa and chips. For the burritos and tostadas, there are 3 meat options (smoked chicken tinga, chorizo pulled pork, rancho cumin brisket) and one vegetarian (black beans and hominy). Once you make your selection of a base, you can add either re-fried beans, black beans and hominy (if you went with a meat) and/or rice then a collection of different vegetables (pico de gallo, red onions, radishes, jalapeños, peppers, corn, etc…) followed by cheese, fresh lime juice, house guacamole, hot sauce and/or sour cream.

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In terms of the burritos, all those options leave you with a fully stuffed burrito and a rather filling one as well. I tried both the pulled pork and the brisket options in burrito form. In keeping with Dylan’s work at Blackstrap BBQ, the quality of the meats is impeccable. The pulled pork has that little heat from the chorizo and is wonderfully tender and juicy. The brisket is the same with just a subtle touch of the cumin which gives off a smokier element than the pork. In terms of the other ingredients, I enjoyed both bean options although I’m not sure I would enjoy a black bean and hominy burrito on its own – a meatless burrito just seems wrong to me. All the vegetables are fresh and crisp. Loved the creaminess of the guacamole although I’m not a huge fan of it being the only ingredient that costs extra to add in. Overall, excellent burritos that would be a regular lunch option for me if I worked anywhere nearby (which I don’t sadly in this case).

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The new menu item for me here was the Tostada which I had never heard of before. Basically, a burrito bowl – all the same ingredients pilled over top a crispy tortilla shell. The crisp shell was good but honestly, other than the texture change with that crispiness, it’s not all that different from the burrito. A different presentation but given how I loved the burritos, I think I’ll stick to those personally.

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Reasonable price, good quality and quantity of food and quick service – All in all, Dylan, Clara and Co. have a great concept going with Tejano BBQ Burrito. It has only been open for about a month now but given what I’ve enjoyed, I suspect we will hear about this spot a lot more and very quickly in this new year. That particular corner of St-Henri is quickly becoming one of my favourite areas to enjoy food wise… I think i’ll be visiting even more often in 2015!

Cheers!

Tejano BBQ Burrito
511 Rue de Courcelle
514 303 3500

Tejano BBQ Burrito on Urbanspoon

Le Boucan

13 Aug

Last month, for the event of my birthday, I was looking for a nice relaxed spot to enjoy a great meal amongst friends and perhaps have a few drinks along the way. After decided that (of course) the Burgundy Lion was the happy hour spot we would start at, Le Boucan seemed like the ideal location to continue the evening. It certainly helped that we could simply walk over from the pub… also I just love BBQ. I had only been once prior and quite honestly the events of that first visit are quite hazy for some reason or another. Because of that, I was quite excited to “re-try” Le Boucan.

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Located on a strip of Notre-Dame street that is quite literally booming, Le Boucan is a relatively small restaurant inside that was a nice terrasse out back to enjoy in the summer time. The interior has a rustic barn look – red wood panels on the walls, sliding barn doors at the washrooms, worn wood signs and hand drawn menu boards. The key focus point inside is the bar area with all the bourbon bottles exposed to the patrons to see. It is a very relaxed and enjoyable ambience.

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Le Boucan is a smokehouse so the menu is all BBQ – pulled pork, ribs, etc. On the drink side, they have a full bar menu with a particular focus on bourbon cocktails. As a starter, we ordered a pitcher of bourbon lemonade because well… I’m completely hooked to the stuff and can’t ignore it when it is on a menu. This particularly version of it was quite good – not as sweet of many variants around town but definitely the strongest in terms of bourbon which was perfect for our evening…. but which made the second pitcher ordered later on a little more problematic…

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Needed a bit of food now, we grabbed some entrees. First up was a plat of Le Boucan’s Nachos which I forgot to take a picture of….. either way, excellent plate of nachos with quite a nice amount of toppings over top. Sadly, you will just have to take my word for it. One of my friends ordered the meat balls. Topped with some scallions and served with some croutons and sauce, the meatballs were nice and moist. Nice flavour to them as well.

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I myself ordered the mac n’ cheese. Served in a onion soup bowl, topped with some scallions and some bread crumbs, it was a nice macaroni however the cheese sauce was not creamy enough for my personal tastes. As such, the cheese didn’t stick to the macaroni itself very well. The cheese sauce had a nice rich flavour at least but wasn’t really one of my favourites.

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For the mains, most of us wanted to order some pulled pork however our waitress informed us that they had run out! Not cool so we worked around it. However, they had enough for one dish so one of us got the pulled pork poutine. Such a heavenly combination – beautifully tender pork with nice fries, cheese curds and some gravy. I would come back for this dish alone…. I guess I just need to make sure to reserve my portion early when I dine later.

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Given the lack of pulled pork, I went for the full rack of ribs with fries and cheesy corn. The fries were solid and the cheesy corn is a play on creamed corn which I enjoyed. The real star of course were the ribs. A massive portion of ribs – tons of meat on the bones with a good crust on them. No knife required to remove the meat here… that is the level of tenderness we are talking about. Very nice all around.

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The only other different main on the table was the rib and chicken combo with the side of potato salad. The chicken was nicely smoked – tender and juicy with a nice smoky flavour. The potato salad was pretty good as well – more on the chunky side of things but still creamy enough. A solid dish all around. Dessert was tempting but frankly at this point, we were too full to even consider the options. That will have to wait until next time.

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Le Boucan was a solid evening of delicious BBQ and drinks – the perfect setting to celebrate me getting another year older. Our group of 7 walked out happy and contend which is all I could ask more on this evening. BBQ in Montreal is getting better and better – Le Boucan has a solid spot in the best this city has to offer… thankfully I can remember enjoying it this time.

Cheers!

Le Boucan
1886 Notre-Dame Ouest
514 439 4555

Le Boucan on Urbanspoon

Wings n’ Things

2 Mar

Every year, Super Bowl weekend is, for me, a get together with friends and/or family to watch the big game. On the occasion, we usually pig out to the usual classic “game day” trappings – chips, beers, ribs, fried chicken, etc…. Sure it’s not very healthy but hey, something just seems wrong about eating salad and vegetables during the Super Bowl. You just offset with a couple extra days at the gym. It’s not so hard. Anyway, for this particular year, I was a guest at some friends who had dinner covered. However, that did not mean I wouldn’t bring anything over especially since I was heading over around lunch time to enjoy some Habs hockey beforehand. In keeping with the spirit of the day, I figured this was as good a time as any to finally try out the reincarnation of Wings n’ Things to grab, what else, some chicken wings!

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Now, I have no memories of the old Wings n’ Things as I am too young to have had the chance to try them or even remember it. However, enough people whose opinions I trust talked up its return in late 2012 that I figured it was worth a visit. Located on Royalmount just off Decarie in an industrial neighbourhood, the first challenge was actually locating the place! They actually share a space with Otago Cafe which threw me off as a newcomer as I drove back and forth along Royalmount unable to find the address! This would be a pickup so I really have no comments on the service there other than to say that I received my order quickly without much of a wait.

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Wings n’ Things offers a wide variety of wings – regular, boneless, breaded or grilled – with a number of different sauces. For this particular visit, I stuck with regular wings with honey garlic, Jack Daniels BBQ and parmesan garlic sauces. The Jack Daniels BBQ ones were probably the most disappointing mostly because I really didn’t get any hint of the Jack Daniels. As BBQ wings, they would be quite good but my original expectations let me down here. The honey garlic sauce was exactly what I expected – a solid mix of sweetness and some bite. My clear favorite though was the parmesan garlic – those ones surprised me with the nice mix of the cheese and the garlic without being overpowering. All 3 varieties were coated well – no lack of sauce here. I also very much enjoyed the wings themselves – they had enough meat on the bone without being so big that they wouldn’t be cooked correctly inside. As a chicken wing place, Wings n’ Things needed to make sure their wings were on point and thankful they were.

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Wings n’ Things has a host of other things on the menu but given this was also conveniently Poutine Week, I went with their special at the time which is not there normally but probably should be – a curly fries poutine with cheese curds, red onions, boneless wing meat and their medium buffalo sauce. Absolutely delicious across the board which also allowed me to try their buffalo sauce. I am not a big heat guy and this sauce was right on the edge for me – if they had put their hotter version of the sauce, I would have had serious trouble finishing it. As it was, I very much enjoyed it and would probably get wings in that sauce in the future.

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All in all, for my money, these were the best wings I have had here in Montreal. They are a little out of the way but believe me, if you are in the mood for good wings, this is the place you must go.

Cheers!

Wings n’ Things
5663 Royalmount
514 733 0765

Wings 'N Things on Urbanspoon

Burger Week 2013 – Uniburger and Burger Royale

18 Sep

Burger Week 2013 has come and gone. This event, which started last year here in Montreal, expanded Canada-wide for this year’s edition. In Montreal, we had 30 restaurants which showcased their special takes on a cheeseburger. I was able to enjoy 4 different burgers this year. While I enjoyed the one’s from Blackstrap BBQ and les Enfants Terribles Outremont, they are not regular items on the menu so I will not discuss them. The other 2 restaurants however showcased true elements of their menus so I believe they are worth some follow-up.

First up, I took a short walk over to St-Laurent and Roy to check out Burger Royale. This burger joint promotes itself as a source for natural organic burgers. All of its beef and poultry is from a single Quebec source, grain-fed free range as well as hormone & antibiotic free. Each patty is handmade following an in-house grind. Nice ideas in concept but execution is the key here.

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For a drink, I went with one of their milkshake. Something unique that they offer here is the choice of regular milk or milk that has been steeped in cereal overnight. When I was there, the choices were Captain Crunch or Fruit Loops. The notion is that the milk will absorb some of the flavours from the cereal and add something to the milkshake. I decided to try the Captain Crunch milk in a cookie & cream milkshake. Honestly, there wasn’t much of impact from the milk. The rich cookie and cream ice cream used pretty much masks any of the Captain Crunch sweetness that I was hoping for. The milkshake itself was quite good but I think I will stick to the regular milk. Props on the creativity though.

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The burger promoted for the week was the Faux Boss Burger. A beef patty topped with deep fried Jalapeños, house sauce, spicy mayo, bacon, lettuce, tomato, sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions and cheddar cheese served with a side of house sauce. This burger is a slight variant of their Boss Burger – they added the Jalapeños and changed the cheese for this one. Overall this was a very good burger. The beef was definitely fresh – nice and juicy without creating a mini-lake in your plate when you bit into it. All of the topping were good and created a nice mix of spiciness and sweetness. The bread was grilled but still had a nice softness to it. I very much enjoyed this burger.

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The fries, on the other hand, were a big disappointment. The portion size was nice but the fries themselves were dry and lacked any real flavour. They certainly didn’t have the same feeling of freshness that ones gets from the burger. Even the picture I took of them makes them seem….blah. Which is too bad because a good burger place needs great fries to pair with a great burger for things to feel whole. I loved the burger so if you decide to check them out, try a burger but don’t bother with the fries.

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Burger Royale
3820 St Laurent
514 282 0002

Burger Royal on Urbanspoon

The second place I went to was Uniburger out in the Latin Quarter. I had heard and read some great things about this simple burger joint so I was excited to try them for the first thing. The place is no frills – simple tables, no fancy decor and a plain fast food-like counter to order from. The menu is short and sweet – hamburgers, cheeseburgers, their signature “uniburgers”, fries, soft drinks and milkshakes. I respect a place that says “this is what we do, no more, no less”. If a burger place is good, it doesn’t need a poutine or chili fries or desserts or any number of random extra dishes. Just serve us a kick ass burger, fries and a shake. And Uniburger nails that perfectly.

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First up, the milkshake – chocolate or vanilla but using Bilboquet ice cream. Simple but again, the use of great ingredients makes all the difference. Perfectly smooth texture with a great richness from the Bilboquet ice cream. when you can see the vanilla bean in your milkshake you know you are dealing with a proper vanilla milkshake.

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The fries are pilled high, perfectly golden crispy on the outside but still soft enough on the inside. No grease at all present and perfectly salted off the bat. Love the salting prior to receiving the fries. These guys know how to make fries.

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For the week, Uniburger added bacon to their classic cheeseburger. Lettuce, tomato and Uniburger sauce which is essentially a variant on a big mac sauce. The entire thing is stacked between a potato bun and my god is this a great burger. Pretty much the best classic burger I have had in Montreal to date. Everything here is perfect – the soft potato bun, the juicy beef patty, the melted cheese, the crisp iceberg lettuce, the tangy Uniburger sauce and the fatty fresh bacon. If I hadn’t planned other burger visits that day, I would have had at least one more. I have now found my burger joint until further notice. Uniburger lived up to the hype and then some.

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Burger week was a great opportunity to experience a wide-range of burgers across the city. Hopefully next year, those of you who missed out will find the time to enjoy some burgers. Don’t think you will be disappointed.

Cheers!

Uniburger
302 Ontario East
514 419 6555

Uniburger on Urbanspoon

Mini Food Truck Roundup – P.A . & Gargantua, Winneburger and Monsieur Crémeux

15 Jul

Summer has truly arrived in Montreal and with it comes festival season. Place des Arts becomes the center for festival after festival as people come to enjoy some Jazz, some dancing and as is the case right now, some laughter as Just for Laughs has started up. Last year, Just for Laughs made headlights as they had a event for food trucks (le Souk) where people got to try Grumman 78 and others for the 1st time along St-Catherine street. This year, they have kicked it up a notch with Bouffons Montreal – up to 41 trucks (!!) being located all around Place des Arts for the next 2 weeks. Food truck heaven…. it’s a beautiful thing.

This past weekend, I was able to make his first visits to the area to continue my quest of trying all the trucks. First up, I hit up P.A. & Gargantua from some grill-cheese sandwiches. Gargantua is all about gourmet grill-cheese using local Quebec cheese, unique breads and adding some extra goodies to make an awesome sandwich. On this day, they were using cheddar from L’Ile-aux-Grues and a Mie au lait bread. I decided to try the bacon sandwich – which adds bacon, shallot confit and smoked butter.

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Off the bat, the bread is grilled perfectly. Nice colour and crunch while keeping the interior a little soft to go with the melted cheese. The bacon, to my pleasant surprise, was actually thick-cut bacon and not overly crispy so it added a nice fattiness to the sandwich. The cheese was warm and melted all the way through but maintained some thickness to it so it wouldn’t just fall out of the sandwich. Great richness came out of that cheddar. This wasn’t some cheap Velvetta cheese here. The shallots and the smoked butter added a nice notes as well but thankfully didn’t overpower the flavour of the cheese and the bacon. Well done overall.

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P.A. & Garguntua
On Facebook and Twitter @pa_gargantua

P.A. & Gargantua on Urbanspoon

Next up, there was the Winneburger from the fine folks at Nouveau Palais on Bernard street in Mile End. This old school looking winnebago serves up classic summer BBQ fare – burgers, chips, milkshakes and lemonade. I decided to go for the regular burger and a lemonade to get a sense of their offerings.

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The lemonade was solid – sweet and freshening. Perfect for the hot summer during which it was consumed. The burger came with cheese, onions, lettuce and a tomato. This was a perfectly executed classic burger. The beef patty was nice and juicy without being too messy to eat on the go. The bun had the right level of crunch on the outside with the nice soft interior. All the vegetables were fresh and classic for a burger. This burger is exactly the kind one hopes for when having a nice BBQ back home. Just a classic item done right. Quite nice.

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Winneburger
On Facebook and Twitter (through its parent restaurant) @NouveauPalais

Lastly, this round-up needs a dessert to finish it and hey, whaddaya know…. there was an ice cream truck to enjoy! Chef Martin Juneau and his team at Pastaga (love their brunch if anyone is looking for a good brunch spot) have created Monsieur Crémeux, a bar all about slushies and soft serve ice cream. They do vanilla ice cream and then offer different augmentations to said ice cream – in the form of different sundaes or a Mont Blanc.

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I decided to go for the pecans, maple bites and maple syrup sundae. Off the bat, the soft serve vanilla ice cream is killer. Nice soft silky texture with a great vanilla flavour. Great base to add some sweeter additions. The maple and pecan crunch added some nice contrast to the smooth ice cream and the maple syrup… well it’s maple syrup people. You all know what that adds to a sundae. Just a great sundae – the perfect summer treat as you walk around downtown taking in the sights and sounds.

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Monsieur Crémeux
On Facebook and on Twitter (through its owner) @martin_juneau

All in all, a great weekend of food trucking was had by all. I’m still not sure if having all the food trucks parked 5 minutes by bike away from my place for the next 2 weeks is a blessing or a curse but at least I know I will eat well! Hopefully you all get the chance to see what Bouffons Montreal has to offer.

Cheers!

Icehouse

24 Jan

Living downtown has a number of perks. One of the big ones on my end is the proximity I have to so many great restaurants. It hits the bank account a bit but when I get a craving for a certain type of food, I am usually close enough to a restaurant that can satisfy my desires. Last Friday, I had a serious hankering of some tex-mex BBQ. Luckily for me, I am a short walk away from one of the best Montreal has to offer. So I called up a buddy who I knew would enjoy the experience, we braved the cold and made our way to Icehouse.

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Icehouse is chef Nick Hodge’s second restaurant, he of Kitchenette fame. This small, probably 30 seat space in the Plateau serves up comfort food with a decidedly Texas flare. Tacos, Burritos, fried chicken, ribs. You come here hungry and you most certainly leave here stuffed.

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As soon as we walked in the door, we were given a complimentary cup of warmed Dr.Pepper with bourbon. Warm and sweet, the bourbon added a nice kick to it. Given the stiff cold we had to deal with outside, it was a most welcomed surprise. Once that drink was done, we each ordered a glass of the house Bourbon Lemonade. I simply love this drink. The perfect balance of sweetness and sour of the homemade lemonade with the punch of the bourbon. When I’ve been here in the summer, there is nothing better than ordering a full pitcher and enjoying it on the small terrasse outside. Regardless of the food you order when you visit, the Bourbon Lemonade is an absolutely must.

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As an entree, we ordered the queso fundido with chorizo. While I had expected a little more chorizo that we got, it was a very good dish. The consistency was good – thick enough that it stuck to the tortilla chips but not so much that the chips broke when you dipped in. Nice balance of the cheeses – slightly sharpeness but still mild enough. A good start.

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For the mains, my buddy ordered the Lobster burrito with pico de gayo, corn and chips. As a side, he ordered some fries. Now I am not a burrito guy. Really not. This one here may have changed that. Absolutely stuffed with lobster, so much so that my buddy was a little surprised, the combo of the lobster with the pico de gayo and the corn had a great balance to it. The fries were perfectly executed as well.

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On my end, I ordered the half bucket of HP sauce ribs that comes with coleslaw, smoked potato salad and a buttermilk biscuit. The biscuit was flaky and rich. The coleslaw is more of the creamy variety if we were to use the St-Hubert coleslaw scale but still light enough to offset the richness of the potato salad. The Ribs were picture perfect. Just fall off the bone good. The sauce had a nice smokiness and sweeteners that basically made you want to suck up every drop of the sauce that was on the paper towel laid below the ribs. It is so good that once the ribs were done (and believe me, that didn’t take very long), we dropped the fries into the sauce and finished them off that way.
Believe me, if you order the ribs, you need a few towelettes but frankly you won’t care.

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Icehouse is one of my absolute favorites since I discovered it last year. Note for couples, it is not the place for a quiet sit down meal. Despite its small size, it gets relatively noisy quickly pretty on top of the great music that they play throughout the evening. We walked out of there waddling slightly but very happy about the meal we just had – just like every other time I have visited.If you are looking for a cool, relaxed setting to enjoy a great meal, Icehouse should be high on your list.

Cheers!

Icehouse
51 Roy Est.
514 439 6691

Icehouse on Urbanspoon

Blackstrap BBQ

7 Oct

I am a big fan of BBQ. Pretty much everyone who knows me will agree with that. Southern style BBQ is not something we are known for here in Montreal but that is starting to evolve. We have recently been spoiled with the additions of Dinette Triple Crown and Diablos BBQ to the local scene. There is now a new contender for the crown which, given they won the Quebec BBQ competition this past summer, may be a mute point.

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Blackstrap BBQ just opened this past week in Verdun amongst much fanfare in the local food scene. Started up by the former owners of Grifintown Cafe, they are focused on Memphis style BBQ and based on all the pictures and quick reviews I was seeing online, I knew I couldn’t wait long before going to try it out and my god was it worth it….

I went for a fairly ridiculous amount of food mostly because there was so much I wanted to try and couldn’t decide. First off, I went for a pulled pork sandwich, some brisket and the most tempted side they had, fried Mac ‘n cheese balls. Yeah…. you read that right. Fried Mac ‘n cheese balls. There was nothing on this plate that wasn’t amazing. The pulled pork and brisket had great natural smoky flavor and that was before you added your choice of sweet or spicy BBQ sauce. The fried balls were outstanding. Soft and melty interior with a great crispy exterior. I could a bunch of those as a meal.

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I would have been satisfied with that alone but the special item written on the wall got my attention : burnt ends poutine. Oh baby…. that poutine. Words do not properly describe how great this was. The burnt ends on their own were perfect but you add to that a very good poutine especially the gravy which clearly wasn’t an afterthought and you have a amazing dish which made the experience that much better.

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Verdun may be a little out of the way for some of you but I cannot recommend you check this place out more. As soon as I left, I waited to come back the next day. A sign of the quality and the word of mouth for this restaurant: they ran out of all their meats about an hour after we arrived…. almost 2 hours before their closing time. This was a great experience and one you shouldn’t miss out on.

Cheers!

Blackstrap BBQ
4436 Wellington
514 507 6772

Blackstrap BBQ on Urbanspoon

 

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