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Marconi

6 Aug

Apparently when one turns 30, your birthday celebrations get stretched out so for the final act, my sister offered me a meal at a restaurant of my choice. Given both of our enjoyment of trying new places, I figured this would be a good opportunity to try a relatively new restaurant in the city that has had lots of buzz, Marconi.

Opened last December by owners Mehdi Brunet-Benkritly and partner Molly Superfine-Rivera, this local duo came back to Montreal after having worked in New York. Mehdi, as a chef, had headed two kitchens in two Greenwich Village restaurants: Chez Sardine and Fedora. When in Montreal prior to his time in New York, he had worked at Toqué and Au Pied de Cochon so the pedigree was very interesting.

The room is definitely interesting visually. The space was apparently a former dépanneur and so they kept some original features. The most unique would be an old wooden fridge turned into the wine cellar. There is also a patterned tin ceiling, white-washed wall tiles, a beautiful wooden bar, an open kitchen and all sorts of electic accents – I’m partial to the cheetah frame above the bar. Noise levels are a little high but with the great background tunes played overhead, it isn’t a problem. The vibe was great all night.

Superfine-Rivera is known for her cocktails so we had to start with a couple. Excellent balance for both. The ‘Penicillin’ had that smoky scotch note but with some sweetness and freshness from the ginger and honey. The Old Cuban had a similar sweet and fresh complex mixing rum with mint and green lemon. Great start.

The menu is relatively small and the plates are designed to share so we were recommended to get a few more than one each. No problem there! First up, a couple of bouchées – mimosa miso egg and cod croquettes. The eggs, served deviled-style, had a hint of the miso and a nice creamy texture. The croquettes were crunchy and very dense. The cod was delicious and the little mayo served it added some richness.

For true appetizers, we went with a trio. First, a plate of veal sweetbread with green peas, lemon puree and oxalis. I love sweetbreads so this was an easy sell for me. Beautifully golden and crunchy, these rich delights mixed with the zesty lemon was a nice pairing.

Next, the toast topped with whelk, bone marrow, aged cheddar and parsley was another hit for me. The mix of the whelk, the fatty marrow and the cheese worked surprisingly well. The bread had a nice crunch to it as well. My photography skills failed me here so no picture of this one. You will just have to take my word for it!

Last starter was a mixture of mushrooms served in brown butter with a poached egg. This was our favorite by far. The earthiness of the mushrooms came through so strongly and then you add the richness of the brown butter and the poached egg. Very lucious and a great finish to this course.

We slowed down a bit and went with only 2 mains. First was the ricotta gnocchi served with xeres, parmesan and basil. The gnocchi was good but personally not up to my standards when compared to another restaurants just a few streets over… however flavours were good, the xeres added some sweetness and the mountain of parmesan is always a welcomed addition. Solid dish.

The other main was the magret de canard served with burnt onion puree. The duck was cooked perfectly and had that great depth of flavour you want. I was very curious about the burnt puree – something I had never been exposed to before. Interesting texture overall with that slight charred texture coming through despite being pureed. The sweetness of the onions is still present but with a slight decrease in strength coming from the burning. Probably not everyone’s cup of tea but I enjoyed it and it worked well with the duck.

After all of this, we still felt the need for some desserts so we took two. First, the bowl of white chocolate, rhubarb and pistachio was a nice combo of sweetness and tart but the cream at the bottom was more basil so the strong flavour that came through was basil instead of the others. Good but not quite what was stated. The other dessert was a lemon and creme verveine with oats. Very generous portion and excellent texture on the cream. Both rich and smooth with a nice lemon kick. The oats were good to bring some crunch.

As a finisher to my birthday celebrations, Marconi was an excellent way to go. The vibe was great, drinks excellent and the food very enjoyable. Mild complain would be the time it took to be served between each dish but clearly the approach was to serve each dish one at a time to split before next one which is fine but it made the service longer than we expected. Marconi is a welcomed addition to the scene in Mile-Ex and definitely a place worth going back – not for birthday celebrations.

Cheers!

Marconi
45 Avenue Mozart Ouest
514 490 0777

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

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Maine 2017 – Eventide Oyster Co.

23 Jul

When in Maine, I seek third things food wise – lobster, oysters and clams. My seafood “trifecta” if you will. I have my personal preferences for lobster rolls and fried clams in Maine – check out the articles from my previous vacations for those but oysters not yet. For a while, I have had a certain well known spot on my list to check out for some fresh Maine oysters amongst many things. For part 2 of my 30th birthday in Portland, Maine, I finally went for Eventide Oyster Co. ready to enjoy some super fresh Maine seafood.

Eventide Oyster Co. is located ironically almost across the street from Duckfat (see the previous article in this blog). Eventide is known as the first true oyster bar in the area and as such, is very popular. They too also have the no reservation issue like Duckfat (well… sort of. They take one group reservation a night). However, thankfully, turns out they have a text message system so we were able to go have a drink at a bar nearby in the meantime. 45 minutes later, we came back to a table outside on the terrasse ready to go.

We started with some cocktails. My muddled Old Fashioned was exquisite and done with great care and balance. The standout though was my friend’s Celery Gimlet of gin, celery and lime – she spent the next 2 days lauding its praises. The level of smoothness and strong celery flavour was so surprising.

First round of food was of course some fresh oysters. Eventide offers 9 different varieties from Maine as well as a few options from PEI, New Brunswick and New Hampshire. We went with 4 different types from Maine and a couple of accoutrements – red wine mignonette and kimchi ice. The kimchi ice was very interesting – they take some of the pickling liquid of kimchi and add it to shaved ice. Loved how the strong fermented taste of the kimchi paired with the amazingly fresh oysters. Beautifully shucked and so delicious. A great start to our dinner.

Eventide, of course, offers many other dishes. First, the New England Clam Chowder with potatoes, salt pork and saltines. The chowder was not as creamy as we expected but the flavours were so wonderful. The lobster came through strongly. The large pieces of salt pork brought some saltiness and richness and then the potatoes were cooked perfectly and gave some texture. The joy of the lack of the creaminess was how the chowder wasn’t nearly as heavy as you could have expected. Just wonderful.

The fried Maine Oysters with Thai apple slaw, mint and pickled ginger was a very creative and asian inspired-style to serving oysters. The oysters were delicious with a nice crunch. The Thai slaw with the mint and ginger provided a mix of sweetness, heat and freshness that paired wonderfully with the oysters. We also ordered a side of coleslaw – very flavourful, fresh and not too creamy.

Eventide is also known for their Brown Butter Lobster roll served on a steamed bun – think Bao Pork Bun with brown butter lobster instead. Sold! For the price, not very big but simply wonderful. The nuttiness of the brown butter paired so well with the inherent fattiness of the lobster and the use of a steamed bun is an interesting decision that makes the roll seem a little lighter overall. Wonderful roll outside of the norm.

Lastly, we had dessert by ordering one of their Ice cream sandwiches – in this case, double chocolate cookies and praline ice cream. This sandwich was massive – we shared it four ways and all felt we got a good portion. The chocolate were rich and very chocolatey. The ice cream was excellent as well. A great sandwich overall.

Eventide is a great oyster bar and definitely a must-visit if you are going to Portland. Great drinks, amazing seafood and friendly service. Round 2 of my birthday tour was a big success and I was happy to finally visit. Eventide is setting the bar for seafood restaurants all around – not just in Portland.

Cheers!

Eventide Oyster Co.
86 Middle Street
207 774 8538

Eventide Oyster Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

L’ Gros Luxe (Sud Ouest)

23 Jan

Over the past few years, I had heard many things about L’Gros Luxe, the originally plateau-only restaurant known for solid cocktails and cheap but enjoyable food. However, like for many restaurants in our fair city, time and circumstances were such that I hadn’t tried them yet even as they expanded to Mile End and Longueuil. A few months ago though, L’Gros Luxe came to me as they opened up a Sud Ouest location on Notre-Dame right beside Corona Theater and more importantly, only a 10 minute walk away from my apartment. With a spot that close, I really had no excuses anymore!

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Over the past month, I went twice with a couple different groups. First thing which is a little unique is the fact that L’Gros Luxe does not do reservations. However, thankfully for those of us who don’t want to wait outside in the cold, they have created an app with which you can add yourself onto a waitlist to get a table. First time around, we didn’t think about it so we ended up waiting about 35 minutes so we grabbed a beer next door (thanks Burgundy Lion!). The second time around, I used the app but ended up not needing to as the restaurant was strangely empty that Thursday night.

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I really like the look of the restaurant – a mixture of vintage Victorian style with some more modern touches. The room feels very inviting and warm – a solid place to enjoy a happy hour. When it was very busy though, I felt the noise level to be too high which is a common complaint nowadays in many restaurants but one that still bugs me when it affects my ability to actually understand what my friend sitting next to me is saying. The second time was much more enjoyable.

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Drinks options are plenty at L’Gros Luxe. Bourbon lemonade by the pitcher is available and while the price point is cheaper than many others restaurants around, personally I found it to be a little light on the bourbon and more of the sweet side of things. The ladies with me enjoyed it that way… me not as much. I did however enjoy their Sud Ouest Lemonade – a mixture of Ungava gin, white beer, simple syrup and lemon juice. This was a better balance of sweet and strong.

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The other staple of l’Gros Luxe drink wise is their Caesars. I hate caesars so it’s not my thing but each one is quite large and also topped with a variety of food items. When your caesar comes with onion rings and a fried pickle on top, I can imagine it being worthwhile.

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Foodwise, L’Gros Luxe is an odd mixture of items that I guess you would characterize as bar food but frankly it runs the gamut from tacos, salads, burgers, poutines, etc. I was able to try a variety of items over my two visits. The appetizers I had were up and down. First was the nachos – topped with black beans, cheese, green onions, marinated jalapeño slaw, corn and coriander. The size of the plate was nice but the cheese was weirdly only on the under layer and underside of the nachos so most chips had no melted cheese on top of them. When one buys nachos, there is an expectation of cheese on most of the chips. Frankly, that’s a pretty easy thing to ensure when you make them. That was not done here which was strange.

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The other appetizer was the grilled feta – served with olives, cherry tomatoes, basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and bread. Pretty self-explanatory and a solid dish overall. The feta was grilled just enough to make it less salty and a touch softer than normal. We had enough bread to make proper croutons for the entirety of the portion we got.

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The poutine is one of their big dishes and very enjoyable. Their classic is made with tater tots! I don’t think I’d had tater tots for at least 10 years. Topped with green onions as well as the usual cheese curds and gravy, there are a multitude of extras you can add – be it pulled pork, grounded beef,etc… The pulled pork I added to mine was nice and tender. My friend’s version is ground beef and regular fries was solid as well.

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One of my friend’s tried out their beef burger – served on a shallot bun with siracha mayo and the usual condiments. Good sized burger, cooked nicely through. The bun was light and fluffy but didn’t fall apart as it eaten. A solid burger overall.

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Finally, I got to try a dessert – deep fried cookie dough served with ice cream, whipped cream and caramel/chocolate sauce. Or at least it was supposed to be served with ice cream. On receiving the dish, we quickly realized that no ice cream was actually present. The problem got solved once we mentioned it to our waitress but still a weird issue. Overall the dessert was good but too much whipped cream compared to the other elements.

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L’Gros Luxe was a up-and-down food experience. The items are good – not great – so while the price is reasonable, I still wanted better. Same thing for the drinks. I left after my second visit thinking that L’Gros Luxe’s best fit is as a great happy hour or drink spot. Not sure a full dinner is truly worth it. I’m happy to have it close by but also happy I didn’t go out of my way to visit for dinner previously.

Cheers!

L’Gros Luxe
2472 Notre-Dame Ouest
514 903 2721

L'Gros Luxe Sud-Ouest Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Le Bremner

22 Feb

A quick story if I may: My first visit to Chuck Hughes’ restaurant Garde Manger was a defining experience for me food wise . We went as a family for my birthday (I think for my 20th) and I just fell in the love with the place. While the overall evening didn’t necessarily work for everyone at the table, everything about it worked for me. The look. The atmosphere. The awesome music. The crowd. And of course the food. Garde Manger showed me the kind of awesome experiences we here in Montreal are lucky to have and appreciate. It opened up a restaurant scene I didn’t really know existed back then – places that 20-somethings can enjoy great high end food in a environment that speaks to them. Garde Manger became one of my favorite restaurants that night and remains so today. I constantly remind myself that I need to go back more often. After Chuck and his partners opened up Le Bremner in 2011 a little further east on St-Paul St., I have been pinning to go. Last Friday, that opportunity finally presented itself.

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The restaurant maintains a very similar feel to Garde Manger – non-descript facade, quite easy to miss if you were to walk by. Once inside, a bar on one side and a small seating area on the other. The space emphasizes the beautiful exposed stone & brick walls, the wooden tables and nautical theme pieces with some low lighting, funky accents (skater stickers all over the room ACs) and amazingly great music mix. Any restaurant that plays Jay-Z and Sublime’s “Santeria” in the same evening is alright by me.

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Compared to its older brother, Le Bremner has a smaller menu and one very focused on seafood of all varieties. If you don’t like seafood, you probably shouldn’t bother eating here. Just come have a drink instead. To start off with, the table shared a couple of different entrees. First up, there was the snowcrab kimchee served on crispy rice cakes. Great use of the snowcrab to enhance the spicy kimchee in an unique way. It didn’t much for the rice cakes but they added a nice crunch to the dish.

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Next up, the fluke and mayo chicharron with crispy chicken skin. Very nice dish that I had never had before. Rich and creamy with the nice added crunch of the crispy skin. Given my lack of knowledge about this dish, I don’t have much to critique here.

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The shrimp and cornbread was the final entree. Great combination. The warm cornbread was wonderfully dense but not dry which is always my concern with cornbread. The shrimp was well seasoned and the whole dish had a nice sweetness to it. The items worked well separately but even better together.

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For mains, the rest of the table shared the lobster pizza. Imagine a pizza with lobster meat, cheese and lobster bisque as sauce. Then add a egg in the middle. Yeah… I know. Stop drooling. This pizza was love for all things lobster. The bisque added a whole other level of richness to your standard pizza. I could have eaten the whole thing my self but I needed to save some space for this…..

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Octopus and braised veal cheeks with fingerling potatoes, chipolini onions and fried coliflower. Once again, this was a dish where each item was great by itself but the combination made it that much better. The Octopus portion was huge and absolutely grilled to perfection. When you add to that the fatty goodness from the braised cheeks, the crispness of the fried colliflower, the sweetness of the onions and the starchiness of the potatoes, you have a perfectly well balanced dish that covers the gamut of textures and flavors. Simply a marvelous dish.

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And yet, after all that, we still had dessert to get to. First, pancakes with sucre à la creme and pimm’s butter. Thick and fluffy pancakes with sucre à la creme at 11:30 pm, what’s not to like? I had originally expected a crepe but was pleasantly surprised when the dish hit the table.

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And lastly, we ordered the chocolate pot de creme with peanut butter cream and salted caramel. The chocolate and peanut butter creams formed a rich, creme version of a Reese’s cup – never a bad thing. The only issue was the lack of presence of the salted caramel – could barely taste it. That would have taken the dessert over the top but alas…..

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This was a meal that I had waited for a long time and it absolutely did not disappoint. An enjoyable 2 and a half hour meal in the old port that has me wanting more. Garde Manger holds a special place in my restaurant Rolodex but Le Bremner has found its way close to that level. I will most definitely be visiting again…. I only hope it doesn’t take me this long between visits ever again.

Cheers!

Le Bremner
361 St-Paul East
514 544 0446

Le Bremner on Urbanspoon

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

New York 2013 – Eataly

6 Jan

The final post from my New York experience is one reserved to the place so nice, I actually went twice – and I was only there for 4 days! That place would be Mario Batali’s Eataly. From the uninitiated, Mario Batali is one of the first big celebrity chefs from the early Food Network days. He has built up quite a little restaurant empire within New York and a few years ago, he opened up Eataly near the Flatiron building in midtown Manhattan.

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At its core, Eataly is a Italian food market and quite an amazing one at that. Whatever Italian speciality ingredient you are looking for, they probably have. Aisles of olive oils, pastas (gluten-free or not), wine store, cookbooks, amazing meat counter, housemade mozzarella counter, chocolates, gelatoes, a bakery, coffee shop…. This place is a food paradise. I could have spend hours in there sampling all the food in there.

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But the brilliance here is not the amazing quality of the market but how Batali has incorporate restaurant experiences within this setting. In the same space, surrounded by all this wonderful food to buy and bring home, there are 7 sit down “restaurants” where you can enjoy a nice meal – that utilizes the same things you can buy inside. Each one is located closest to the market area that services the majority of their menu.

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On our first visit, we chose to sit down at Manzo – the restaurant “attached” to the market butcher. I ordered the Pappardelle with braised pork and radicchio. Just a great plate of pasta with absolutely no complaints from me.

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And then on the way out, I stopped by the dessert counter and picked up some fresh cannolis. Wonderful fresh ricotta based cream with pieces of candied orange mixed in. Add the light shell covered with cinnamon and you get an amazing dessert.

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On our return visit, we “sat” down at La Piazza – which is serviced by their mozzarella, salami and cheese counters. For the occasion, we ordered some wine and got a tasting plate of cheese and meats. Great mix of different meats and cheeses to enjoy with bread, some olives, figs, honey and candied oranges. Not a single bad items on the entire table. I could have stood there for a few more hours and simply continued to order more wine, cheese and meats to enjoy. Just a great experience.

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From a foodie’s perspective, Eataly is simply an heavenly experience. Any future NY trip will most definitely include return visits because I simply didn’t get to try everything this market has to offer. New York is very lucky to have a place like this to call their own.

Cheers!

Eataly
200 5th Avenue
New York, NY
212 229 2560

Eataly on Urbanspoon

New York 2013 – Katz’s Deli

6 Jan

Smoked meat vs. Pastrami on Rye. Similar to the bagel discussion, this is a heated topic between Montrealers and New Yorkers in the culinary arena. Which one rains supreme? As a native Montrealer, I think you can all guess where I stand on this topic but regardless, I felt it was important to try a true Pastrami on Rye sandwich while in New York. Naturally, I chose to head to Katz’s Delicatessen, a NY institution. This place has been serving people since 1888 and known for a number of classic deli dishes including their pastrami sandwich. People may also know Katz’s as the place where the famous “I’ll have what she’s having” scene from When Harry Met Sally took place. There is actually a sign in the restaurant noting actually where they were sitting.

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The deli makes me think of Schwartz’s here in Montreal – if Schwartz’s were about 10 times larger. The place doesn’t look like anyone has touched the decor in at least 10 years and the walls are littered with picture after picture of celebrities coming in to try out their fare. The place apparently always has a line-up and it most certainly did when we walked in… At 4pm on a Tuesday.

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Prior to the sandwich, I got some fries and a root beer, my classic deli drink. The fries, quite honestly, were terrible. Too much of a large cut, the fries were not very crispy and didn’t have much going for them. The sandwich really needed to step up to the plate now.

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The sandwich was a lot closer to Montreal Smoked Meat than expected. It is a wetter approach similar to what you see at Smoked Pete’s than Schwartz’s if we want to make the Montreal comparison. I wasn’t provided an option of lean vs. medium cut but this was closer than medium in terms of cut. Very flavorful and tender – they certainly know what they are doing. It is not Montreal smoked meat but honestly I came out of there with a much more favorable option of Pastrami than I did when I walk in. Katz’s deli is certainly an experience worth having if you’re heading into NY. Just expect having a hard time finding a cab to bring you back uptown if you need it 😉

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Cheers!

Katz’s Delicatessen
205 East Houston Street
New York, NY
212 254 2246

Katz's Deli on Urbanspoon

New York 2013 – The Lambs Club

6 Jan

For New Years’ Eve, I had the opportunity to head down to New York City and experience the city for the first time. Now, the trip was relatively short and with that, the opportunity to make a serious dent into my NY culinary wish list pretty slight. We had to pick and choose a few selected spots to try while there. The big dinner of the trip took place at the Lambs Club, located just off Times Square at Broadway and 44th street in the Chatwal hotel.

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The draw for me to the Lambs Club was that it is run by Geofrrey Zakarian. If you watch any amount of the Food Network, Zakarian is a chef you have seen. He is one of the more recent Iron Chef winners and a chef whose style of cuisine really appealed to me. It is described as modern American and I think that it the right way to characterize it. This was definitely a meal I was looking forward to.

The restaurant is, according to the website, a 90 seat space but honestly it feels a lot smaller than that. The room has an amazing Art Deco look with red banquets, dark panel walls, beautiful standing lamps and a fireplace with black and white head shots of famous people from the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s all around the room. Add to that amazing jazz and crooner music as well as some low lights and it makes for a nice sophisticated and intimate experience. And I haven’t even talked about the food yet.

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The dinner service is a fixed price 3 course meal with options of additional sides for a price. Prior to your selection, you receive a small amuse-gueule – a marinated cherry tomato. Nice and sweet, a good way to start the meal. Add to that my drink of choice for the evening – a gold rush cocktail (12 yr old bourbon, honey syrup and lemon juice) and we have a good beginning.

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As a starter, I selected the Spanish Octopus a la Plancha with squid ink pain perdu, spiced short rib and black garlic. The octopus was perfectly prepared with none of the chewiness that you fear to get. The short rib was nice and flavorful and the pain perdu was quite good – the squid ink didn’t overpower the rest of the dish which can be a concern.

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As a main, I went with the Long Island Duck Breast with turnips, figs, huckleberries and coffee molé. Don’t the chance too enough to eat some duck so I jumped on the opportunity. The duck breast was perfect – the crispy exterior without the meat being dried out. The figs and huckleberries added a nice sweetness to the dish. Very well done.

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For dessert, the Chestnut Opera cake grabbed my eye. Nice, sweet and light cake to finish off the meal. The candied chestnuts provided a nice spiced element to the dish.

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The Lambs Club was a great experience and a wonderful to start my time in New York. The entire experience, from the food to the decor to the wait staff, was top notch and worthy of your consideration next time you visit NY. It may cost you a good penny but will be worth your while.

Cheers!

The Lambs Club
132 West 44th Street
New York, NY
212 997 5262

The Lambs Club on Urbanspoon

Kitchenette

3 Dec

I am a huge fan of Icehouse, Chef Nick Hodge’s hip and casual love letter to Southern American food. If it weren’t for Blackstrap BBQ’s sudden appearance and my frequent visits that border on stalking frequency, it would be my most frequented restaurant of this year. With that in mind, I had never had the opportunity to visit his 1st and more “upscale” restaurant Kitchenette. This past Saturday, with the help of a last minute restaurant for a family meal, I succeeded in righting that wrong.

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The restaurant is located on Rene Levesque near the Radio-Canada building and you would be forgiven if you’ve passed by and never noticed it. There is no large sign advertising its presence, the restaurant logo is in the windows but in a minimalistic way. The restaurant has a very clean black and white look with wooden accents. The focal point is the bar and open kitchen which allows everyone to watch Chef Nick and his sous-chef work their magic.

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We started off with a half dozen fresh oysters with homemade Tabasco and a tomatillo based mignonette. The oysters were perfectly shucked and the mignonette was a very nice compliment to the freshness of the oysters with the subtle kick from the tomatillos. A good start to the meal.

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The subsequent course brought forth 3 different appetizers to try. The Maryland-style crab cakes with ranch dressing were very well executed. Plentiful crab meat with a thin but perfectly crispy exterior. The ranch sauce was also very good and clearly homemade. Had the right richness but without being too fat and thick. Probably the best crab cakes I’ve had in Montreal.

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The Japanese taco with pulled beef teriyaki and daikon-jalapeño slaw was quite good as well. Good strong flavors from the beef which were nicely balanced by the slaw. I only wished there wasn’t just one taco in the dish so that I could have had more than one bite.

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The final appetizer was the sopapillas with crispy chicken skin, truffle and spiced honey. Never had these fried pastries before but there were pretty good. Really, it is the spiced honey and truffle that comes off as the big flavor in this dish. This was more a dessert in flavour but a nice compliment to the other flavors we got during this course.

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With the two mains we ordered (also another order of crab cakes but we’ll ignore that for this portion), we also got a side of French fries and a side of Vidalia onion rings. The French fries were of the classic French bistro variety – matchstick style. Absolutely no complaints there – very good. The onion rings, on the other hand, were simply amazing. Nice thick rings of Vidalia onion that maintained a great crispness regardless of the batter which was nice, crispy and not heavy. That really allowed the sweetness of the onion to shine though. Once again, some of the best onion rings I’ve ever had.

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The first main was the lazy cioppino with grilled sourdough bread. I didn’t try much of this for reasons that will become obvious in a moment but from what I had, this was a very nice hardy broth with amazing fresh seafood by the tons be it crab, shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels or fish. It all worked perfectly well together and with the sourdough bread, it made for a perfect bread dunking opportunity into the broth. Definitely will want to try this myself in more detail next time I visit.

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Now, I did not try much of the cioppino because I ordered the Chicken-fried duck confit, sweet potato and wild blueberry waffle, white gravy and pickled mushrooms. This was an overall wonderful play on the chicken and waffle combination. The duck confit was spectacular. There really is no other way to describe that beautiful piece of duck I received. Great flavor, great texture. Spot on in every way and that is before you consider the chicken-fried preparation on top of it. The gravy was nice and rich and the mushrooms were a very nice compliment to the overall rich nature of this dish. The one disappointment was the waffle which, while having a nice flavor of blueberry, was too soft in texture for my liking. I assume that may have been on account of the gravy it soaked in but it still wasn’t what I was hoping for. A little crisper and this was a perfect dish.

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After all of that food, you figured we were done, right? Well, you’d be wrong. To finish this off, we ordered the bread pudding with Jack Daniel’s and toasted pecan caramel. Oh the bread pudding…. where to start with this beauty… This was simply the best bread pudding I have ever had and I honestly don’t think it will ever be topped. The bread itself was nice, soft and able to absorb all of that delicious caramel sauce to make it even that much better. The caramel sauce was to die for and not just because of how rich it was. You got just the right taste of Jack Daniels and the toasted pecans added a nice crunch to the gooey rich mess that is this dessert. I felt like I wanted to explode afterwards but it was completely worth it in every way.

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I had high expectations for Kitchenette and there were ably met by Chef Hodge and his team. This is a restaurant I will come back to because I now have the desire to eat very thing on the menu. I believe that, more than anything, speaks to the quality of the food you can experience at Kitchenette. This is a place not to be missed.

Cheers!

Kitchenette
1353 Rene-Levesque Est
514 527 1016

Kitchenette on Urbanspoon

Maison Publique (Brunch Edition)

21 Oct

There has been much anticipation for Jamie Oliver’s 1st foray into the Montreal food scene with Maison Publique, the English pub style joint run by Derek Dammann, his local partner, former sous-chef and formerly of DNA restaurant in Old Montreal. While I had hoped to first experience their dinner service earlier during their opening week, the timing didn’t work out. However, I was able to visit for Brunch on their first open Sunday. I was very exciting to see what exactly Derek and co. had in store.

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The restaurant is located in the heart of plateau Mont Royal in a relatively residential area. The bar dominates the decor and with good reason as it is absolutely beautiful. You also get a nice open view of the kitchen from both inside the restaurant (just outside of the frame to the left) and from the window outside the restaurant. The steady stream of alternative music added to a relaxed friendly and slightly hip vibe.

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No menus are handed to you here – everything is posted on a board for all to see. Our waitress kindly informed us of this fact and mentioned the few items she had gotten to try… They’d only had one service previous to our visit, so quite understandable. The menu is a nice mix of classic brunch items with some twists, some typical English breakfast items and more eclectic fare. To start off, I ordered the apple strudel. Nice and flaky with a delicious apple filling, it was a good start to the meal.

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Next up, I ordered the breakfast sandwich. A sausage patty covered with melted cheese, topped with a egg and maple syrup, all between the housemade English muffin. You are left with a very tasty and satisfying sandwich. The English muffin in particular was quite nice.

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My sister, on the other hand. ordered the pancakes with pear butter and smoked bacon. Very nice and fluffy pancakes, all perfectly cooked. The pear butter was a nice and subtle touch to the dish and the bacon had a great smokiness as you would expect.

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All in all, a very successful brunch and this was their first weekend. I only except things to get better and better. In general, good brunch places are hard to find so to see a new option enter the scene – especially in my neck of woods – is a wonderful thing. Everyone looking for a great brunch will be in for a great treat if they visit Maison Publique. I hope to have a review of their dinner options shortly – this experience has only made me more eager to come back for more.

Cheers!

Maison Publique
4720 Marquette (corner Gilford)
514 507 0555

Maison Publique on Urbanspoon

 

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