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Taverne F

2 Jun

Montreal is a happy hour haven. The 5 à 7 is a true institution of our fair city which really ramps up once the weather warms up and the terrasses get going. One of the few downsides of my actual job is that it doesn’t really allow me to enjoy downtown happy hours because I work in the West Island and my hours often go past happy hours. A few weeks ago, taking advantage of my family all being downtown for a change on a weeknight and me not being at work late, we met up in Quartier des Spectacles and decided to try Taverne F, the little brother to Cafe Ferrera.

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Taverne F is a Portuguese brasserie so its focus is on smaller plates to share as a group while you enjoy some wine or a cocktail. The shipping container-shaped space, located just beside Place des Arts, has a very modern and clean decor although the general narrowness of the space isn’t ideal. It causes problems at the entrance of the restaurant when you have patrons waiting for a table and the lack of a atrium causes those people to spill into the bar space right in front and then you can barely move out of your bar stool… which was a problem since we were sitting at the bar. When the beautiful terrasse is available, I suspect it really helps to open up the room and ease this issue.

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First dish I tried was Mama Rosa’s pork confit. Deliciously fatty pork that just fell apart with a fork. Mama Rosa’s spice mixture (whatever it was…) didn’t really come out all that much but it succeeded in getting such a great texture through the curing that it didn’t matter to me. A nice dish to share…. if you can pull yourself away from the dish in the first place which I wasn’t able to do in this instance.

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The second dish was the taverne poutine – a Portuguese play on a poutine with salted cod and wild oregano on top of the usual cheese curds and fries. Reading the description of the dish got me very intrigued. I love poutine and salted cod separately and the notice of combining them had never struck me before. In this case, the combination worked very well. The inherent saltiness of the cod plays very well with fries and its flakiness allowed the fish to blend well with the gooey cheese and sauce. The fries were nice and crispy as well (well… at least before the sauce got to them). This was a all-around solid dish and a nice twist on the poutine.

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Finally, I could not leave without getting a dessert especially when Taverne F has pastel de Natas on the menu – those delicious little custard egg tarts that I love so much. Flaky and rich with a nice hint of vanilla, Natas are desserts that I could eat everyday and Taverne F’s version was no exception. In this case, the pastel de Natas were served with Maria biscuit ice cream, not that we knew that when we ordered them. The ice cream was nice and smooth but the 3 of us could not for the life of us place the subtle sweet flavour of the ice cream in context until our waiter told us – which makes sense because none of us had ever had those cookies before. A solid end to a late happy hour.

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Taverne F, due to its location and format, really works well for a quick bite and drink before or after a concert or show. All of the different festivals that occur around it makes this place a happening all throughout the summer… as I have noticed when I have gone by the past few years. The food is solid and the drink options are plentiful. It is a Cafe Ferrera joint so it is not a cheap stop but a worthwhile one if you are in the surroundings, and with festival season around the corner, most of you most certainly will be close by.

Cheers!

Taverne F
1485 Rue Jeanne-Mance
514 289 4558

Taverne F on Urbanspoon

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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

Diablos BBQ

2 Sep

A couple of Sundays ago and in the mood for a nice spot to enjoy the weather, I was tasked to pick a restaurant in the latin Quarter for me and some friends. Given that everyone likes BBQ, I decided that we’d try out Diablos BBQ, a new-ish place located on St-Denis between Ontario and De Maisonneuve. Now, this was the same weekend where I tried out Dinette Triple Crown, so Diablos had much to live up to.

We arrived around 1:30 and were surprised to find that we were the only ones there! A little strange but the gay pride parade had just ended so maybe the lack of people was a function of that but either way, for the entire time we were there, no other patrons showed up. The restaurant is relatively small inside with the look and feel of a southern style BBQ place. However, they have an awesome terrasse outback which was one of the same reasons we went that day.

 

 

To start, I had the pulled pork sliders because, as I mentioned previously, the quality of a BBQ place’s pulled pork says a lot about the restaurant to me. The sliders were okay. The pulled pork was good texturally however it lacked sauce somewhat and was a little on the cold side temperature wise. The cornbread was well done but given its nature dry and dense nature, the lack of sauce with the pork was all the more glaring.

 

As a main, I went with the abattoir burger which is an 1lb patty formed with equal portions of beef, veal and pork. The burger is served with the option of a number of sides. I chose to go with the coleslaw because I really didn’t feel like eating fries at that moment which incidentally were quite good having picked a few from my friends. Anyway, the patty was perfectly cooked and quite good. Again, while the burger has some BBQ sauce in it as a condiment, I definitely think it needed more. The bun was quite good as well. The coleslaw was solid – nothing really standout but nothing bad either.

 

Overall, Diablos BBQ was a solid meal but somewhat disappointing. I truly believe my experience at Dinette the day before really set me up for this kind of experience. The actual BBQ itself was well done. It was just the little extra touches that were missing for me on this day. If you are a fan of BBQ, I would still encourage you to check them out if you’re in the area.

Cheers!

Diablos BBQ

1693A St-Denis

(514) 283-4666

Diablos on Urbanspoon

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