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Le Butterblume (Brunch Edition)

6 Oct

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

Le Butterblume
5836 Boul St-Laurent
514 903 9115

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

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Bête à Pain Griffintown (Brunch Edition)

12 Feb

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

Bête à Pain Griffintown
195 Young
514 509 8937

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

Hopkins (Brunch Edition)

26 Mar

Being a fan of the restaurant scene in Montreal, you become very aware of the wonderful chefs that do great work in our city. When I hear about new restaurant openings through social media and online, most of the time I have heard about the chef in charge and where they have been before. You create an expectation for yourself based on what you know from their previous work. Every once in a while though, a place pops up surprisingly on scene without any foreshadowing and makes a mark. In less than a year, Hopkins would definitely make that list.

Since opening last summer, Hopkins has received great reviews across the board for Chef Liam Hopkins’ cuisine. They also received great marks for their brunch service so I made my way over on a Sunday morning with my sister for another episode of brother sister brunch.

Located in Monkland Village – a part of town that I have generally ignored for no obvious reason, Hopkins is quite a looker. The space has a clear modern chic style. Seating is either caramel-coloured chairs or pearl grey banquettes. The back of the room’s focal point is a gorgeous mirror-backed bar covered in orange candles. Lighting is provided by brass chandeliers but the tall windows in the front provided tons of natural light for a brunch service. Add some great music with very friendly and attentive wait staff – even when they say upfront that they are new – and Hopkins definitely plays the part of a fine dining establishment.

Even though it was 11am on a Sunday, I still went with a cocktail because it’s brunch and it’s socially acceptable to have a drink as a result… right? Anyway, I went one of their seasonal cocktails, the Tennessee Sour – Gentlemen Jack, dried peach syrup, fresh lemon juice, egg white, bitters and nutmeg. Nicely balanced – a touch of smokiness from the Jack but very fresh and creamy. Great start.

The brunch menu is not huge but everything was quite interesting – it took much longer for both of us to decide what to pick! Regardless you are presented at your arrival with a plate of fruits and jam with fresh brioche bread. My sister went with the house smoked salmon served on ficelle served with crème fraîche, pickled red onion, avocado, radish, niçoise and split tomato vinaigrette. Beautiful presentation and very good to boot. The smoked salmon had a great texture and very flavourful. The rest of the dish was very fresh and light.

I went with the breakfast sandwich – a buttermilk biscuit with egg, cheddar, house Beaurivage bacon and crispy polenta hash on the side. This sandwich was insane – first I love a good buttermilk biscuit and this one was excellent. Combination of egg, cheese and bacon is always a good combo but when the house bacon is thick cut… eve better. The side of polenta hash was very interesting and pretty good – the little bites of polenta were crunchy on the outside but tender inside. A great dish all around.

Hopkins nailed it from start to end – great decor, great service and excellent food. NDG is not a regular location for me food wise but Hopkins has ensured that I need to come back more often….. now to try dinner!

Cheers!

Hopkins
5626 Monkland Avenue
514 379 1275

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

Régine Café

16 Mar

As brunch has become more and more in vogue in Montreal, it is becoming a challenge to go to the most popular locations around the city without waiting in line somewhere. As much as I love brunch, at this time of the year, standing outside doesn’t really appeal to me. If only one of the best was also open on weekdays… and located about 2 minutes from where I take some of my physio courses… oh wait… Régine Café fits that description. Awesome. This Rosemont staple has been getting rave reviews for the past few years but it never really lined up for me to visit. Well, using the excuse of my course a couple of times over the past year, I have headed over on Fridays with my classmates to indulge in some decadent brunch food as a respite from all the learning.

Régine Café has a definite retro chic look going on. Almost Alice in Wonderland-like in terms of colours and patterns. It is quaint, fun and definitely loud – both in terms of look and noise level. Even on a Friday, this isn’t the place for a quiet conversation. Service was quick and efficient although at the rate people come in, they need to be.

You get a shooter of the day to start your meal every time. The first time, it was pineapple and mint. The second time, it was beet and apple. Both creative and fun ways to start the meal. They also have a number of drink options. I went with the cider both times. Very satisfying beverage for a brunch!

On my first visit, I decided to go with the Sucré Salé – homemade brioche french toast with pulled ham, aged cheddar, an egg and sucre à la crème. The title of the dish is definitely apt – a great combination of salty and sweet goodness. French toast using brioche was dense yet fluffy and had a great crust to it. The pulled ham was tender and salty. The egg and the melty cheese provided some richness and then you had the insanely sweet but oh so good sucre à la crème. I wanted a nap big time after this one so perhaps not the right choice during class but whatever, I stand by my choice.

For round 2, I started with a scone with mascarpone cream. I loved the cream but the scone was a little dry and dense to my liking. Great nutty and fruity flavour profile but a little more fluffiness would have been appreciated.

I decided after that to go with the Grilled Cheese – 2 year old Cheddar from Îles-aux-Grues with caramelised onions, walnut and pistachio bread, mango chutney and a little confit duck to top it all off. The only thing not appreciated of this plate was the mashed potatoes – too dry despite the nice rich flavour. The sandwich was outstanding – the duck was tender and fatty, the cheese was melted nicely and had a nice sharpness to it. The onions brought a touch of sweetness as well.

Régine Café definitely lived up to the hype. Excellent food, fun decor and solid service. I might be too lazy to go wait in line on a weekend but for those of you who do, don’t worry – you will come out very satisfied!

Cheers!

Régine Café
1840 Rue Beaubien Est
514 903 0676

Régine Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Arthurs Nosh Bar

4 Dec

Fall is always a crazy time schedule-wise for myself especially on weekends so when a rare free morning appeared, the only logical thing to do in my mind was to go brunch. A lot of good new brunch options have continued to pop up in and around Montreal but the one that has really grabbed my attention recently was the new one closest to me – Arthurs Nosh Bar. Situated on my favourite strip of Notre Dame Ouest in St-Henri, Arthurs is the brainchild of the owners of Back of House Catering, Raegan Steinberg and Alex Cohen. The couple’s Jewish restaurant is open for breakfast, brunch and lunch and has a great look and feel.

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Walking in, the space feels a touch traditional Jewish deli but with some more modern sleekness. I love the combination of the penny-tiled floor, the huge green back bar lined with jars and bottles as well as the letter board menus. There is even the candy jar on the counter! But then you add the marble countertops, the bistro chairs, the leather banquets and the black-and-white pictures on the walls… the experience feels more refined than a Jewish Deli. The awesome musical mix creates a more relaxed fun atmosphere as well – anytime you have my sister and I both smiling at the choices, you are doing it right.

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The menu for Brunch is a mix of Jewish dishes – more Eastern European traditions from what I understand – with some modern touches. We ended up sticking to the more traditional stuff. My sister went for the Latke Smorgasbord – Latke served with gravlax, scrambled eggs, sour cream, tomato, cucumber and caviar. A solid portion with every element working well. The latke was excellent with a nice crunch to it. The texture on the gravlax was beautiful and the eggs were nice and fluffy.

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I went for something I had never heard of before – Syrniki or cottage cheese pancakes. I normally don’t like cottage cheese on its own but its inclusion in the pancakes created a wonderfully fluffy and rich texture. Add a generous pour of maple syrup overtop and I was in pancake heaven. The pancakes were huge which made for a very filling plate. I still added a side of grilled salami to get a little kick with the sweetness overload. Grilling the salami gave it a little crunch which was a nice texture contrast to the pancakes.

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To finish the brunch, we decided to split a piece of Cinnamon Babka – essentially a Jewish play on a Cinnamon Roll. Nice cinnamon flavour, fluffy texture and a little sweet glaze over the top – nothing to complain about here.

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Arthur Nosh Bar certainly held up to my expectations… and given how the restaurant filled up within 20 minutes of it opening on the Sunday we visited, I guess plenty of others are satisfied as well. Outside of a Deli, we don’t get much exposure to Jewish cuisine so it is great to see something so different in the Montreal landscape. I would definitely be interested in a dinner menu if ever they decide to go that route. In the meantime, I will simply come back to enjoy more great Brunch and Lunch fare!

Cheers!

Arthurs Nosh Bar
4621 Notre-Dame Ouest
514 757 5190

Arthur's Nosh Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Petite Maison (Brunch edition)

7 Jun

It had been a long time since I had tried a new brunch location so taking advantage of a recent beautiful spring day here in Montreal, my sister and I decided to go try a relatively new spot that I had heard good things about so far – Danny St Pierre’s Petite Maison.

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The long awaited Montreal project from Chef St Pierre is located in Mile End on Parc Avenue just north of St-Viateur. Its basement location is such that it is quite easy to walk by and miss it completely – we did as we were paying for parking! When you walk into the restaurant, the space is very clean and inviting. The use of white walls creates a much brighter space than you would expect from a basement. Simple decor accents and the stone foundation wall add some extra touches to the space. What is also not obvious when you enter is this room is not the whole space but simply the front of the house. A corridor brings you further back to the kitchen and another seating area. The divided rooms do create a more intimate feel though and help to reduce noise. Add some easy listening music and you have a nicely relaxed atmosphere for brunch.

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Petite Maison’s brunch setup is a fixed price menu – 24$ – which gets you a couple of entrees to share, your choice of a main dish and a couple of desserts to share again. A very reasonable price for the amount of food you get – I have not been that full after a brunch service in a very long time! A surprisingly good bang for your buck in that way. On top of the usual drink options, cocktails were available and I am never one to skip a good cocktail. I went with a Pimm’s Lemonade – a light refreshing drink for a brunch.

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Our first entree was duck rillettes served with onion confit, croutons, pickles and grain mustard. Fatty and rich texture as one would expect with duck. Strangely enough, the mix of the duck with the croutons and mustard – never pickles – created a very smoked meat-like flavour. The sweetness of the confit was a nice compliment to the rest of the dish.

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Our second entree was a watercress salad with green apple and nuts. A nice light healthy salad. Nice balance of acid and sweet with a bit of crunch with the nuts. A solid compliment to the previously rich dish.

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For a little extra, we also had the option of adding Chef St Pierre’s unique “Poutine Inversé” – poutine in croquettes. Very nice crunch to the outside and yeah….the initial hit you get is truly of a poutine. A cool way to present a classic Quebec dish in a different fashion. 6 wasn’t enough…. I could have eaten a basket of these babies!

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As a main dish, my sister went with the eggs Benedict with asparagus and shrimp. Classic eggs perfectly executed – the hollandaise looked thick at first but was surprisingly light in consistency which was a very pleasant discovery. The one weird element was that the shrimp in the dish were served cold which was a little strange in comparaison to the temperature of the rest of the dish. Otherwise, a very satisfactory dish that filled up tremendously – my sister was unable to finish it due to being too full!

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I ordered the pulled pork breakfast sandwich but through an error, I ended up with the fine herb omelette instead – not quite the same thing but the mistake was quickly resolved and we ended up with the extra dish on the house. The omelette, served with cream cheese and green onions folded in and some chicken fried potatoes on the side, was excellent. A soft pillowy texture but rich and flavourful. The combination of green onions and cream cheese added to the richness and brought some creaminess and sharpness. The potatoes were solid as well.

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The pulled pork sandwich came right after. Usually served with potatoes, we skipped that since they had come with the omelette. The savoury shredded pork was served over a hamburger bun with shredded cheese, arugula and a sunny side up egg. I loved the flavour of the pork. The egg made it pretty much impossible to eat as a sandwich without making a huge mess so I went open face instead. The one negative was the bun – just a un-toasted white bread hamburger bun. Given the quality of the rest of the meal, I expected something more. It was fine but just odd relative to everything else.

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Despite having pretty much no appetite anymore, we still had dessert to try. First was churros served with caramel sauce. Not served as hot you would expect but the texture was nice. The caramel sauce’s flavour was too burnt with my sister and I. The other dessert was the chocolate hazelnut torta. Also served cold, this cake was much denser than I expected but deliciously rich. Whole hazelnuts inside the sorta brought some crunch and really helped create that natural nutella flavour we all love.

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Petite Maison was a nice experience to try out – a worthy addition to Mile End. Other than the mistake on the order which they dealt with very smoothly, service was quick and attentive. The food, other than a few little issues, was on point and showed a nice level of technical prowess. La Petite Maison has dinner and lunch as well and this experience definitely has me wanted to come back and see Chef St Pierre and Co. have on tap in the evening – just another reason to visit one of my favorite hoods in the city.

Cheers!

Petite Maison
5589 Parc
514 303 1900

Petite Maison Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Junior

24 Apr

Anyone paying attention to the Montreal restaurant scene has probably noticed the fact that between Griffintown, Little Burgundy and St-Henri, Notre-Dame Ouest has boomed restaurant-wise. The number of new and awesome places that have opened up over the past few years is staggering and difficult to keep up with. I’ve had my eye on Junior, a Filipino restaurant for a while now but hadn’t truly made the time to visit. Over the holidays, getting the Montreal Cooks cookbook – a great book by the way – and trying a recipe from Chef Dre Mejia made me more anxious to go. This month, I finally find my moment to give them – and Filipino food – a proper try.

A late bit with Felix and Renee after party at Vincent's

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I went both for a late night snack and then for their “Rice n’ Shine” brunch on the weekend. I like the overall visual style of Junior – a indoor street vendor. Very colourful elements all around and the in-house DJ is a nice touch. I enjoyed the selection of music both times I was there but it was a little too loud on my evening visit. When it is hard to have a conversation at the table, it’s not a good sign.

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To start on my evening visit, I went with the dish that brought me there in the first place – the Adobo Baboy – Soy-Vinegar braised pork shoulder. A nicely hearty portion of wonderfully tender and fall-apart pork. Perfect braised texture. The sauce is very strong on the soy so could be too salty for some of you but the vinegar helps to tone it down and creates a light finish. Add some sweetness, acidity and saltiness to the fatty pork. Very enjoyable – my imitation version just didn’t match up!

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One of my friends chose the palabok – rice noodles with pork and shrimp gravy. This was sadly a big disappointment. It looked good but surprisingly had no real flavour – the noodles felt overcooked and only the egg served on top came through taste wise. The gravy provided nothing and the pork and shrimp felt brand and lifeless.

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Our third dish brought us back on the right track. We went with the Daing na Bangus – Baby Milkfish marinated in vinegar and garlic, de-boned and butterflied and pan-fried. First thing that hit us was the texture. Moist and flaky, the fish came apart so easily. The use of vinegar and garlic provided some sweetness and a little kick flavour wise.

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2 out of 3 wasn’t what I had hoped but it was enough to come back for brunch with my sister. We first had the Longasilog – fried rice, sunnyside-up eggs, sweet pork sausage, plantain chips and atsara. A solid dish all around – I really enjoy the sweetness of the housemate sausage and how it mixed well with the runny egg and the rice. The plantain chips provided some crunch and the atsara a little bitterness. Very homey and filling.

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We also had the fried chicken and waffles – jollibee-style fried chicken and coconut waffles with maple syrup. This dish stood out a little more. As much as I hate coconut normally, the little hint in the crispy waffles worked really well and the fried chicken was outstanding. Loved the crunch of the skin and the overall moistness of the chicken.

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I’m happy to have finally been to Junior. It was great to try some Filipino food and realize how I do enjoy it and would like to come back. On the flip side, it was really disappointing to have a dish fall so flat on us. Junior is a solid part of my neighbourhood and a cool addition to the culinary scene in Montreal. Nice to have a generally underexposed cuisine be brought forth like this. I will be back Junior – I just hope that one blip was just that.

Cheers!

Junior
1964 Notre-Dame Ouest
514 944 8636

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

Le Bon Vivant (Brunch Edition)

15 Sep

Brunch is a pretty big thing all around Montreal nowadays. The number of great restaurants open for brunch on top of their usual dinner service is quite astounding and has truly elevated what we consider good brunch. I am rather fond of the weekend brunch and have tried many of the best this city has to offer. The downside there however is that I have stuck to my usual spots recently and stopped trying new options. Recently, with my move to the Point, my usual brunch places – mostly in Mile End and the Plateau – are a little further away. As such, I am curious about the options I have nearby. First up on the list was a relatively new place just a short walk away that had peaked my interest based on some of my internet friends – Le Bon Vivant.

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Located a stone’s throw away from the Atwater Market, Le Bon Vivant is a small room – probably about 40-50 seats – with a look I just adore. Very industrial with the exposed ceiling struts, the use of old lighting fixture and lightbulbs, the metallic shelving by the entrance and the open kitchen in the middle of the space. However, the use of cream leather banquettes, the magnetic boards for the daily specials, the white wooden bar and the great vacation-like tropical music that played during brunch bring some nice coziness and family warmth to the space. I really like the vibe I got coming in both times – yeah my girlfriend and I came twice over a month or so. Kinda gives you an idea of this post before you get to the end, right?

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Le Bon Vivant offers a variety of drink options including cocktails which change regularly. They also have Beau’s beer by the bottle which as a huge Beau’s fan is an extra point in their favour from me. On the first visit, I went with the Mookie – Bourbon, raspberry and mint. A light summer play on an old fashioned. The mint and raspberries freshened up the bourbon without overpowering it. Sweet but nicely balanced overall. The second time around, I went with the Caipirinha – Cachaca (an sweeter Brazilian rum) and lime juice. Very strong lime flavour which helped to dull the edge off the rum a bit but I didn’t find it as sweet as I expected.

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First up food wise, we had the homemade almond milk and ricotta bircher with fresh fruits, nuts and wine cinnamon cardamon poached pears. A light and fluffy dish with tons of sweetness. The use of ricotta made the bircher pretty rich but not overbearing. The care shown in making the poached pears brought some nice contrast to the bircher. There was a very strong cinnamon and wine favour to the pear. The one negative here was that there was only one pear. A couple would have been nice.

Next was some Huevos Rancheros in a cast iron skillet with papas bravas, chorizo, avocados, chipotle salsa and corn tortillas. I would have liked a slightly larger portion but within that context, there was still plenty of nicely sized pieces of both sausage and potatoes. The salsa over the top brought some freshness with just the right touch of spice. The whole thing was covered by plenty of cheesy goodness to blend it all together. Having proper grilled corn tortillas was great as well.

The second time around, I couldn’t help but order the roast beef poutine served with their BV sauce and homemade smoked beef brisket. In this case, portion size was perfect – a very filling dish. The smokiness and meaty goodness that was that brisket really hit the point. The BV sauce was thicker than your usual gravy and there wasn’t as much used compared to a regular poutine. It made all the elements blend together better without having a liquid mess at the bottom of the dish. The fries were crunchy and the cheese squeaked – so we were all good in terms of a proper poutine.

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The final dish we tried was a special the second day we were there – a parmesan polenta served with Italian sausage and grilled pita. The polenta was smooth and creamy in the inclusion of the cheese. The fatty and spicy sausage added some nice bit to the plate. The grilled pitas were the perfect vessels to pick the bowl clean. You wouldn’t think from the picture that the dish was big enough but it was perfectly filling for my girlfriend.

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My two experiences at Le Bon Vivant have told me that I definitely have an great brunch place close by now and secondly that I will need to come for dinner very very soon. It is nice to know that I can walk to a place from now on.

Cheers!

Le Bon Vivant
2705 Notre Dame Ouest
514 316 4585

Le Bon Vivant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Le Trèfle (Brunch Edition)

7 Feb

Circumstances will sometimes take you to places you didn’t expect – in those cases, you simply hope for a pleasant surprise and a positive experience. How I ended up having brunch at Le Trèfle is one such example. Planning a bachelor party can be a pain in the ass – especially in the wintertime where the need for specific places to go over the course of the day is essential. Within the day I had planned for my buddy, I needed to find a lunch spot relatively close to HoMa where a large group of guys could watch the Habs, eat some good food and enjoy a few pints in the process. HoMa – or Hochelaga-Maisonneuve if you want the full title but I’m lazy so HoMa will do – is not a part of Montreal I know at all. Doing some searching, I found this Irish Pub that did brunch and had TVs for the game.. although I couldn’t find the menu online. However I saw enough positive reviews to give it a shot, so that is how I found myself with 10 other guys on a part of Ontario street I had never been.

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First thing when I walked in that struck me was the decor – absolutely loved it. Classic pub look but without the ridiculous clutter you often end up with. Old wood-paneled walls – dark stained or just natural – with dark wooden tables, leather seats & stools and a beautiful dark bar as a focal point for the room. The whole space had a nice neighbourhood bar vibe where you can see easily coming in for a pint or two on a regular basis for a relaxed evening. It was a quiet Saturday so there wasn’t much ambience outside of us but regardless, it was a nice place to relax for the four hours we were there.

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Amongst their brunch menu was a collection of speciality cocktails. I chose to start with their ‘Prepster’ – a mixture of Maker Mark’s bourbon, egg white, angostura bitters and cream soda. A definitely interesting drink – I enjoyed the overall flavour however the softness of the egg whites with the cream soda made it too light for me. It needed more staying power – I ended up finishing it off so quickly that I barely enjoyed it. Hindsight, something stronger would have been a better choice for me.

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Foodwise, Le Trèfle’s Brunch menu is a interesting combination of standard breakfast/brunch fair with a Irish Pub twist. I got to try three different dishes amongst the dozen or so options. First up was their morning Irish stew which as my Irish friend said at the time wasn’t really a Irish stew but it didn’t matter because it was quite good. A mixture of mostly beans with ham, bacon, maple syrup and a poached egg, the stew was a filling meal. The maple syrup came though a lot which gave it more sweetness than you would expect in the stew but it was a hit at the table.

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Next up was the Celtic poutine, their play on a breakfast poutine – breakfast potatoes, bacon, hollandaise sauce, sharp cheddar cheese cubes and an egg over-easy. The hollandaise sauce had a little stronger component to it than a typical hollandaise – forgot to ask the waitress what was is in it – and the use of sharper cheddar really worked well to make this poutine different for the now “standard” breakfast poutines you see around town. The rest of the ingredients were as solid as you expect. This was the most ordered dish at our table and not a single potato was left by the end. Just wonderful.

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The final dish was the Dublin sandwich which was sold to us by our waitress with her description – an omelet with ham and tomato sandwiched between two grilled cheese sandwiches. That got us salivating pretty quickly and thankfully it was as good as advertised. The onion and spinach omelet was excellent, the ham sweet and fatty and the two sandwiches nice and gooey. The only issue really was that the sandwich was too tall to actually eat properly. Otherwise it was another hit.

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Le Trèfle was a pleasant surprise to me foodwise – really well executed brunch food with high quality throughout. While the primary focus was on the drinking aspect of the occasion (and believe me, that was achieved and then some), the food itself convinced me that Le Trèfle needs to stay on my radar not just as a pub option but as an actual brunch option. Not sure I would have believed that when I first walked in. It is always fun when I get surprised…. especially when I had 10 other guys to appease at the moment. Happy to finally have a place in HoMa to recommend easily.

Cheers!

Le Trefle
3971 Ontario Est
438 386 3737

Le Trèfle on Urbanspoon

Le Cartet (Brunch Edition)

20 Mar

A beautiful Sunday morning in the city always lends itself to a nice brunch. A couple of Sundays ago, the family was downtown for the weekend so it was the perfect opportunity to head down to old Montreal for a nice family meal. For the occasion, we decided to try out Le Cartet, a place that I had heard many good things about but hadn’t had the chance to try yet.

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This restaurant and boutique offers breakfast and lunch as well as a takeout menu for the many workers in the area during weekdays . On the weekend, the focus switches to brunch. We arrived for the beginning of the brunch service and were able to grab one of the last tables in the back so thankfully we didn’t wait long. Given the lineup that was present on our exit an hour later, we made the right call to arrive early. The space is a perfect morning spot – tons of natural lighting, plain white walls and high ceilings. It’s a tight fit with everyone cramming in for brunch but still comfortable.

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The brunch menu at Le Cartet is a combination of classic brunch dishes with some extra twists. The first dish that we ordered was their Coupe Santé – Fresh fruit salad, greek yogourt, blueberries, ginger-honey organic granola and cashew nuts. Wherever they get their greek yogourt, my family would love to know because it was some of the best we’ve ever had. I love blueberries so that’s the perfect option to pair with the yogurt and the granola was wonderful as well – a nice subtle hint of both honey and ginger. Mix everything together and you get a very nice yogurt parfait. The lightest option we tried and a hit for all of us.

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The second dish we got was the Brunch Cartet – Scrambled eggs with mesclun salad, ham croissant, goat cheese and a sweet potato salmon cake. This was the most unconventional plate we ordered. I could take or leave the salad – it was good but rather unremarkable. The scrambled eggs were very done as one would hope from a breakfast/brunch place. The croissant was fresh and flaky, the ham was solid and the goat cheese was a nice creamy rich touch to a otherwise light plate. The real star in the end however was the salmon cake – nice crunch on the outside while keeping a flaky context inside. I would have loved that element to be more plentiful compared to the rest but a solid dish nevertheless.

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The final dish was le Brunch des Cantons – Scrambled eggs with country ham, sausage, bacon, baked beans, toast and roasted herb potatoes cooked in duck fat. This dish was completely in my wheelhouse which makes the fact that I didn’t order it all the more shocking! Great items here – all the meats were delicious and I am always a sucker with anything cooked in duck fat.

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Each of these dishes came with an amuse-gueule to enjoy before the meal however we didn’t get them during our meal! Our waiter, realizing his mistake, gave us a mini-bag of them on our exit – sucre a la creme. Deliciously rich and sweet – this ended up being a nice way to end the meal rather than start it.

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Le Cartet was a solid brunch experience – all the dishes were well executed and the service was quick and to the point. Its location makes me a perfect starting point for a nice afternoon in Old Montreal. Whether or not I would stand in line to eat there however is a different question all together. In the end, I would easily recommend you give them a shot – however arrive early otherwise your day in the old port will become a quick afternoon stroll.

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Cheers!

Le Cartet
106 Rue McGill
514 871 8887

Le Cartet on Urbanspoon

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