Archive | Diner RSS feed for this section

Chez Tousignant

24 Jan

In Quebec, the casse-croute is a tradition. That little neighbourhood joint where you get a nice simple breakfast, a greasy lunch, dinner or even just a coffee and a doughnut. Nowadays for most of us, we think of casse-croutes as those greasy spots by the highway or the Belle Province you go to grab a bit after a late night outing. Not exactly the highest of quality.

As an unabashed fan of Michele Forgione and Stefano Faita – and their drive to make everything homemade within their restaurants GEMA and Impasto – All the “test” pictures of burgers, bread, hot dogs and doughnuts that Michele has been posting on Instagram for the past year or so have been killing me. When would we be getting this ideal old school casse-croute? Finally, just prior to the holidays, it finally arrived: Chez Tousignant run by Impasto’s previous chef de cuisine (and originator of the idea) Yann Turcotte. I was away for 2 weeks but as soon as I came back, it was clear that I needed to finally satisfy the cravings from all those pictures.

IMG_2074

Located on Drolet near the Jean Talon market, Chez Tousignant has a great old school diner look – the neon sign in front, the ceramic tiled floor, the metal-topped tables and counters, the stools. Everything even down to the menu signs fits the old style.

IMG_2075

IMG_2076

IMG_2077

IMG_2098

Foodwise, this is a casse-croute through and through. On my first visit, I went classic – a Michigan hot dog and some fries. The fries were great – as you need at a diner – but right now, we NEED to focus on that hot dog. Homemade all-beef dog. Homemade potato bun. Topped with homemade meat sauce and cheese curds. Good lord this thing was amazing. Officially the best hot dog I have ever had and it’s not even close. The all-natural beef frank is such a change from the usual industrial variety. Cooked on the griddle, it had a nice crunch to it while still having a nice tender texture inside. And that bun….. oh that bun. Man, they nailed it. When you add the buttered grilling on the griddle, that dense yet soft bun gets a nice rich crunch to it. Rare is the time where one hot dog would fill me up but this one hit the spot. When you’re doing hot dogs with ingredients with this quality, that’s what you get apparently.

IMG_2080

IMG_2081

The second time around, I went for some other classic casse-croute staples – cheeseburger and poutine. The cheeseburger – served with special sauce, lettuce, onion as well as tomato and pickle if you wish – was another hit for me. The potato bun was once again spectacular – god I need to learn to make these – with that same buttery goodness off the griddle. The meat was meaty with a nice crust, the cheese was nicely melted on-top and the sauce added a nice little creaminess. A classic yet spectacular burger.

IMG_2101

The poutine was a beauty as well. First off, curds at the bottom. Not just on-top. Big hit with me. A very nice touch. Anyway, we’ve got here a generous portion of fries with plenty of curds and some amazing gravy. This wasn’t some off the shelf St-Hubert gravy mix. So dark and rich, the gravy ties the whole thing together. It’s amazing how given all the ways that people feel the need to dress up a poutine now if you just use the best elements, the classic one is simply the best.

IMG_2100

On top of all this goodness, there is even more! Chez Tousignant also does a pie of the day and some doughnuts for dessert. I went with a doughnut because I couldn’t resist the beautiful stack of doughnuts on-top of the counter. An old-fashion cake doughnut with a vanilla bean glaze. The doughnut itself was dense but nicely chewy – sweet with a touch of cinnamon. The glaze though was the impressive part to me. The vanilla bean came through nicely and the glaze was firm – no stickiness whatsoever – but cracked nicely once you bite into it.

IMG_2079

Lastly, I went with a milkshake because of course I did. Chez Tousignant does chocolate or vanilla. I tried one of each on my two visits. Rich and smooth in both cases with nice deep flavour. You actually got chocolate or vanilla flavour – not just milk with a hint of either one.

IMG_2078

Chez Tousignant was a blast in the past in the best way possible. A true casse-croute where care is taken to make everything homemade because that is how you provide the best to your clients. All through the process of testing, chef Forgione labeled all his pictures with #ParceQueVousLeMeritez – that’s the essence of what Chef Turcotte and the Chez Tousignant team are about – it may be lots of work but as a client, you cannot help but appreciate the craftsmanship on display.

Cheers!

Chez Tousignant
6956 Drolet
438 386 6368

Chez Tousignant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Advertisements

Dirty Dogs

21 Aug

Every week (well almost anyway…), I head up the Main to Hof Kelsten for my dose of fresh rye or sourdough bread. Thinking about grabbing something different for lunch on one particular occasion, I was reminded that Dirty Dogs was only a minute away on foot serving up gourmet hot dogs. I had first heard of Dirty Dogs in the spring via some friends but never found the moment to go. My first chance had been during the Mont-Royal street fair earlier this summer but their free hot dog special that day created a lineup that snaked off Mont-Royal and down Saint-Laurent street so that didn’t happen. Seeming like the perfect lunch option in this instance, away I went with my loaf of bread in hand.

20140816-232858-84538945.jpg

Dirty Dogs is a small diner space with maybe 8 seats inside but thankfully there is a takeout window in the case where seating inside isn’t possible. The interior is a rustic diner look – dark wood bar counter, wood panels on the walls. It is a sparse space but functional. At least the music is a good mix as you wait for your order!

20140816-232855-84535575.jpg

20140816-232856-84536941.jpg

The menu consists of 10 special dogs each with their own unique toppings and sausages. Each hot dog can also be modified for the vegetarians among us which is a cool touch from a hot dog place. To pair with the dogs, there are a number of sides and drinks to enjoy. Given that this was a solo mission on my first visit, I actually went back a second time to enjoy other items off the menu – good time I have a build-in excuse with my bakery of choice…

The side I tried was their mac n’ cheese – made to order nicely enough and topped with crispy bacon and green onions. Creamy enough but something didn’t click with me… perhaps the cheese wasn’t strong enough. Not sure to be honest. The bacon added some nice crunch although personally I would have preferred softer to get the fattiness into the macaroni. Might as well go full glutton.

20140816-232857-84537605.jpg

I went all in with my first visit so I ordered the “Maurice Richard” – Bourbon vanilla sausage with pan seared foie gras, bacon, 3 year old aged cheddar, caramlized onions and maple syrup. A pricy dog but one that packs a heck of a punch. The sweetness of the vanilla bourbon sausage is subtle but still noticeable which is a good thing given the sweet kick from the onions and the maple syrup. Add to that mix a general amount of foie gras and plenty of bacon and you have quite a hot dog on your hands! Only negative to me was the bun – i actually like the choice of bun used but they are barely served warm… I would preferred them more steamed or even grilled!

20140816-232858-84538270.jpg

For the second visit, I went a little more traditional in my choices. I ordered the “Denis Coderre” – Fine herb pork sausage, coleslaw, onions, yellow mustard and bagel seeds – with a side of regular fries and spicy mayo. Fine issue with the bun again. The hot dog itself is solid – you pick up the fine herb taste in the sausage, the coleslaw/onion/mustard combo is classic and continues to be so. The bagel seeds is an interesting addition that works well. The classic fries are exactly the kind of fries I like with my hot dogs – very reminiscent of your classic Belle Province/ Lafleur. The house spicy mayo had a nice kick to it as well. A solid second visit.

20140816-232856-84536268.jpg

All in all, Dirty Dogs is a solid bet from what I tried. I like the more unique approach to the dogs and the varied choices you have. The macaroni didn’t do it for me but I enjoyed the rest. The price on the higher end dogs may turn off some people used to more standard pataterie prices… same goes for waiting time since these dogs take longer than your regular steamey. Overall a worthwhile visit if you are in need of a bite near the plateau.

Cheers!

Dirty Dogs
25 Mont-Royal Est
514 508 3647

Dirty Dogs 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.

20130715-215404.jpg

20130715-215418.jpg

20130715-215433.jpg

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.

20130715-215448.jpg

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.

20130715-215548.jpg

20130715-215602.jpg

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.

20130715-215638.jpg

20130715-215624.jpg

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.

20130715-215751.jpg

20130715-215805.jpg

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.

20130715-215819.jpg

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!

Maine 2013 – Bob’s Clam Hut

4 Jul

When one is in Maine, you can expect to spend most of your time eating amazing seafood. People who know me also known that I am a fan of the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives show. When the possibility arose that I would be close by one of the spots featured on the show, I couldn’t help but want to check it out. So, on our drive down to Maine from Montreal, we stopped over in Kittery to check out Bob’s Clam Hut.

20130703-193352.jpg

Bob’s is pretty much exactly what you would expect from a local joint that over time has become well known with travellers and tourists all while the Kittery Outlets have developed around it. It is a typical looking New England Seafood diner/ fast food joint with line-ups, loud speaker call-ups for orders, pickup windows, a huge menu and sadly high prices for what you think you are ordering. However, for me personally, if the food holds up, these are all minor complaints.

20130703-193437.jpg

20130703-225522.jpg

First up, we had the clam chowder. Now, at Bob’s, the chowder does not have a rue. This gives their chowder none of the creaminess one associates with a typical chowder. It still has nice fresh clams and chopped up potatoes so you still get the taste you want. The difference comes as the richness you would get from the rue comes from the buttery broth. A little too buttery for my personal preference but a good “chowder’ nevertheless.

20130703-225615.jpg

My mother had the lobster roll. Didn’t try it so nothing I can say here except that I love the size of the lobster pieces they use. Thank you Maine for reminding me what a REAL lobster roll should look like.

20130703-225838.jpg

Bob’s Clam Hut is known for their fried clams so of course I would be having fried clams. Now, they have 2 varieties – Bob’s and Lillian’s (named after their long time employee who passed away earlier this year). Bob’s go straight into the flour mixture (3 parts corn flour, 2 parts white flour). Lillian’s gets a egg-wash before going into the flour. Anyone who was watched the Triple D episode knows the “debate” about which is better. I decided to order “the Clams 2 ways” and try them both. The order came with a side of fries that I would describe as underwhelming so let’s focus on the clams. Both varieties came in the same basket and honestly the differences between the 2 are pretty minor. Essentially Lillian’s have a crunchier texture but the taste stays the same in my opinion. Great fresh clams although they were a little oilier that I would have like. The homemade tartar sauce was quite nice as well – nice and creamy with a little crunch from the pickles. There was also cocktail sauce but I hate that stuff so we won’t talk about that here.

20130703-225749.jpg

I am happy that I got the chance to try out Bob’s Clam Hut. It is always nice to add a place to my “Triple D” list of visited restaurants. I enjoyed the clams but it probably didn’t necessarily hit the high notes that I had hoped for. Part of that may have been my expectations, partly the overly “commercial” feel and partly the price. I don’t usually ding restaurants on cost but 23.00$ for the basket I got seems a tad excessive. Given their level of fame, I really shouldn’t be surprised by these issues but I had hoped for otherwise. In the end, I would recommend going to try their clams but as a snack to share amongst your group and enjoy a Maine staple.

Cheers!

Bob’s Clam Hut
315 US Route 1
Kittery, Maine, USA
207 439 4233
On Facebook and Twitter @BobsClamHut

Bob's Clam Hut on Urbanspoon

Some 2012 Reflections… and Poutineville

15 Jan

The new year is a opportunity to reflect, to look back on the past year and determine what new years’ resolutions you want to make. Within the perspective of this blog and what it covers, 2012 was a great year in that I succeeded in starting up this blog for the umpteenth time and ACTUALLY sticking with it with some regularity. I channeled my love of food and used that to discover plenty of wonderful restaurants in Montreal in the past year (many of which I had long been anticipating) which providing a nice creative outlet from a writing point of view.

Is my writing style that great? Well… No. Not yet anyway. I don’t have the smoothest nor the most detailed and structured style. Part of that is my lack of writing practice (outside of sterile physical therapy documentation) but my hope is that through further writing over the coming year, I succeed in improving those elements and create my better overall reading experience for you the readers. I am also quite thankful that there are actually some people reading these. I am doing this mostly as a fun outlet and a good excuse to try out some good food on a semi-regular basis. If through that, people discover nice places to bring friends, family or loved ones, then wonderful. And if you’re not sure, just feel free to ask me for recommendations! I like a challenge. Anyway, here to 2013 – and to hopefully another great year in Montreal food!

And with, a quick note on my first MTL outing of 2013. Through the “benefit” of a weekend professional course, I found within 3 blocks of Poutineville for a quick lunch. I had been there once before about a year before within the same context. Saint-Edouard is not a neighborhood I have much reason to visit otherwise, although I have a few places to check out nearby eventually. Anyway, back to the restaurant. I am a big poutine fan. It is very hard to me to resist the pull of a good poutine if the chance presents itself. My go-to in Montreal has been La Banquise – 2am poutine never tasted so good. Poutineville is a similar premise. You can order one of their speciality poutines or you can build your own to your tastes. This is the way to do it.

20130114-230657.jpg

20130114-230720.jpg

For this particular visit, I went for a meat heavy poutine because well…. vegetables have no business in a poutine in my opinion. Anyway, I went with pogo, pulled pork and Italian sausage with cheese curds, the house gravy and the crushed potatoes (the house speciality). Behold this behemoth..

20130114-230956.jpg

Everything worked perfectly well here. The crushed potatoes creates a nice texture difference, the cheese curds were perfect and plentiful – always a key factor in a good poutine. The house gravy had the right consistency – not too liquid and not too thick. A but of saltiness to balance everything off nicely. The pulled pork and Italian sausage weren’t very special on their own but within the mix with the pogo and the base poutine, it created a very nice, filling poutine. A great lunch that was most certainly needed.

Personally, I still prefer La Banquise but if you are looking for a good poutine, Poutineville is a great option for you to consider. It may not have the cache of La Banquise but it most certainly has a poutine to match up favorably. Quebec is the land of the poutine. We most certainly have restaurants which celebrate it properly.

Cheers!

Poutineville
1348 Beaubien Est.
514 544 8800

Poutineville on Urbanspoon

Le Gros Jambon

26 Nov

My work schedule is not one that provides opportunity to try out lunch spots during the week and certainly not ones downtown so when I get a chance, I really need to jump on them. Taking advantage of a recent Friday vacation day, I made my way to the old port for a long overdue visit to the Gros Jambon diner. This is a diner in appearance through and through – from the long narrow space, to the counter with open kitchen, to the retro 70s style decor and, given my arrival during the lunch rush, the full occupancy with a lineup at the door.

20121126-090516.jpg

20121126-083032.jpg

20121126-083058.jpg

The diner’s claim to fame is its typical diner fare but with a twist. Burgers, grilled cheese, fries, poutine, Mac n’cheese, hot dogs, BLTs and sandwiches. All the classic. However, classics don’t include things like lobster, duck confit, coca-cola mayo, fried pickles. Those are the elements that make this diner unique. I went in prepared to order their coca-cola burger which I wanted to try during MTL Burger Week this past summer but didn’t get around to it. However, after talking withers waitress, I switched to the duck confit grilled cheese. Given my hatred of pickles (I know, I know… Just ignore that statement and let’s move on), she advised that I skip the burger since that was its main selling point. I appreciated the honesty and ended up really enjoying my choice.

20121126-084233.jpg

There is really nothing that makes a grilled cheese as well as a flattop. Just a perfect crisp on the bread with the proper gooey cheese center enhanced by the duck confit. Add to that very nice crispy fries with some coleslaw and you get a delicious, rich and decadent lunch. Exactly what you want and except from a diner style establishment.

20121126-085215.jpg

Added to that dish, I ordered a warm apple and cranberry cider and a apple bourbon doughnut. The cider was quite good – a nice balance between the apple and cranberry. The doughnut was a bit of a disappointment – much more bourbon than bacon. It felt like the bacon was just there to say there was bacon. It didn’t feel essential to the flavor profile of the doughnut.

20121126-085331.jpg

All in all, Le Gros Jambon was a good experience and certainly a place I want to go back to to try other items on the menu. If you are in the old port and looking for a quick but delicious lunch, you should certainly consider giving this diner a shot. I simply wished I worked a little closer so I could give it more consideration more regularly.

20121126-090440.jpg

Cheers!

Le Gros Jambon
286 Notre-Dame Ouest
514 508 3872

Le Gros Jambon on Urbanspoon

Comptoir 21

22 Aug

Following my experience last week at Brit and Chips (see previous blog entry), I decided to continue along the fish and chips path by visiting Comptoir 21 in Mile End. I stopped by on a early Friday evening to see what I have been missing.

20120819-114333.jpg

Comptoir 21 is a nice small diner-like space that can sit probably about 20 people. They also have a takeout counter should you choose to enjoy their food at home. Compared to Brit and Chips, their options are more straight forward but no less delicious.

20120819-115710.jpg

To start, I had their clam chowder. A nice hearty portion with loads of seafood and potatoes, the chowder avoided the classic sin of being too rich due to overuse of cream. Despite the warm weather outside, this chowder was a perfect starter to my meal.

20120822-230054.jpg

Next up was the reason I came in: the fish and chips. At Comptoir 21, there are no options regarding the fish or the batter used. You’ve got one choice and it is a damn good one. The fish is nice and flaky while retaining its moistness despite the frying. The batter is thin but very crisp and sticks nicely to the fish. The options you do have is regarding whether you want fries, poutine or salad as well as your choice of sauce. I kept it traditional because to me, how you pull off simple fries and a base tartar sauce tells me how good of a fish and chips place you can be. The fries were nice and thick with a good crunch. Personally, I felt they needed a bit of seasoning before serving but it is minor complaints given how good they were. The Tartar sauce, on the other hand, was spot-on. Perfect rich and creamy compliment to the crispy fish. Very well done.

20120822-230837.jpg

Comptoir 21 was a wonderful discovery in a area of town that I need to explore more thoroughly given my discoveries there so far (BU, The Sparrow, Lawrence). If someone were to ask me which I would pick between Comptoir 21 & Brit and Chips, I’m not sure I can really pick one over the other right now. Both are amazing options to go try and discover. If you’re looking for a place for a quick bite in Mile End, give Comptoir 21 a moment of your time. It certainly won’t end up being your last time.

Cheers!

Comptoir 21
21 Saint-Viateur Ouest
514 507 3474

Comptoir 21 on Urbanspoon

%d bloggers like this: