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Licence IV

10 Dec

Being a Francophone town means that we are inundated with French cuisine here in Montreal. In particular, there are a lot of restaurants cribbing off the classic French bistro style – burger, moule-frites, steak-frite, tartar, etc… It is a classic favourite but one that can be stale in the hands of an average restaurant. Funny enough, in the Sud-Ouest, there really wasn’t a bistro spot in the neighbourhood. Well, that changed last year with the arrival of a couple including Licence IV on Notre-Dame. As my wife works nearby, we went a few weeks ago with some of her colleagues to see if they could do this classic style right.

Licence IV definitely put a good foot forward in terms of looks. The space is beautiful – a modern but classically inspired bistro look. we have the long bar, the banquets, the ornate tin ceiling, the heavy touches of glass and brass all over and tons of ample lighting. There is also lots of use of vegetation to create an indoor terrasse feel. I found the video projections over the bar a little strange and the wait staff allowed the videos to lapse at one point so we can the computer desktop being projected over the bar instead of the videos we were supposed to see. The look is there – just needs a touch more refinement in terms of execution from the staff.

The list of cocktails is interesting as is the wine list. I started with their Marseillaise – Rye, Italian Amaro with orange bitters served hot. I enjoyed it – close to my favourite Negroni but with a extra hint of orange. I also enjoyed how the use of warm water created a more soothing and warming beverage. Perfect for the cold weather we are now experiencing. Related to the cocktails, the wait staff was weirdly insistent about cocktails or even champagne prior to the meal even though everyone else had said no the first time they mentioned it. I get the profit that comes with drinks but as a staff you need to understand the line between suggesting and being way too pushy about it.

Our appetizers came next and were enjoyed nicely. First was the charcuterie plat – a mixture of duck rillettes, ham, rosette de Lyon sausage, figs, candied fruits, raclette cheese and bread to melt the cheese over. A nice variety of items and all enjoyable. I liked the touch of being able to melt the raclette cheese at the table.

The other appetizer I tried was the panko breaded fried calamari served with homemade tartar sauce. A nice crunch to the calamari and I loved the freshness of the sauce. The calamari were nice and tender as well. Solid starter.

As a main, I went with the duck burger – topped with marinated slaw, melted cheese, honey mustard sauce and lardon – served with fries. Sadly, this was a disappointment. The patty was very thin compared to the rest of the burger and frankly didn’t really evoke much in terms of the natural fatty flavour of duck. It is too bad because I liked the bun and the matchstick fries. However, if the heart of the dish isn’t good enough, you can dress it up all you want – it doesn’t matter.

The other main I got to try was better – the Moules-Frites à la Marinière. Excellent dish – the mussels were plentiful, very tender and had great flavour from the classic broth. Add the excellent matchsticks fries and you had a classic bistro dish very well executed.

Licence IV was a solid Bistro experience. A few things to nitpick and hope to see improve but overall, they get the look and feel of the French Bistro down pat. If you looking for some French classics in the Sud-Ouest, Licence IV is worth a look.

Cheers!

Licence IV
1524 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest
514 938 8084

Licence IV Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Hvor

14 Sep

Notre Dame Street has become such a hotbed of restaurants in the Sud-ouest that it is hard to keep up with all good places to try…. even when I live in the neighbourhood! One such place is Hvor – a restaurant that, when it opened a few years ago, got great reviews but that I never found the time to check out. Recently, friends of my wife’s invited us out to dinner and we decided on Hvor as the destination. I was very curious to see if the initial positive buzz was still deserved.

Hvor’s focus is local organic produce – the menu changes weekly based on what they get from the market, from local producers and also from their own terrasse garden – where they produce a number of different vegetables, herbs and even honey. There are a few tables on the terrasse so you can sit in the garden for dinner. Sadly, as it is a first-come-first-serve basis for that, we were not able to get one of those tables. Instead, we sat inside. The space is very industrial modern – a big contrast to the earthy market style food they focus on. It is a clean and open space with a large bar being the big eye catcher in the space. On the sunday evening we were there, it was very quiet but I can imagine a pretty noisy environment if the room is full.

The wine and cocktail lists are interesting enough. I decided to try one of their cocktails – the Rhum and Julep –
Ste-Marie rhum with sea buckthorn variations, orange minthe and ginger beer. Very nicely balanced between the rhum and the more fruity elements of the drink. Beautiful presentation as well using the buckthorn.

There are a few menu options available – you can go à la carte – either full plates or sharing style – or tasting menu. We chose to go à la carte sharing but allowed our waiter to choose for us – we couldn’t decide exactly what to go for. Up first, a amuse gueule of sour cream, melon foam and roe eggs. An interesting balance of textures and flavours. A good omen for what was to come.

Our first courses arrived soon next. We got some locally produced sourdough bread with fermented butter and charcoal – beautiful crust on the bread with a nice yeast body.

Next we had some grilled Princess scallops from Gaspé served with hazelnuts. The scallops were rich and tender with a nice grill to them. I never would have considered hazelnuts as a pair with scallops but their strong earthy flavour worked pretty well here.

Our final appetizer was a platter of maquerel sashimi and sliced scallops with a host of veggies. Beautiful presentation. A dish of finesse and execution. The scallops and mackerel were delicious. The little extras paired nicely overall.

Our second course kicked it up further. First we had a cold gaspacho served with grilled halloumi, roasted tomatoes, carrots and radishes. Delicious dish – I always love grilled halloumi and the rich saltiness it brings. That paired very nicely with a smooth velvety tomato soup.

The main dish was an trio of grilled meat from their menu: duck, lamb and steak served over a beet corn risotto with some potato chips. The three meats were beautifully grilled and cooked well. Wonderful tenderness to all of them. I get the idea of the potato chips to add some crunchy texture but frankly while they were good, I don’t think it worked all that well in practice. The beet risotto however was wonderful – bright and flavourful, rich and creamy. The addition of the fresh corn worked well as well.

The final dish was a platter of desserts – we got amongst others a dark chocolate Paris-Brest, a rice and coconut cake, a pistachio cake with pickled rhubarb and some candied peaches. At this point, we were pretty stuffed but we found a way – my wife loved the strong pistachio flavour of the cake in particular. Personally, I was more a fan of the Paris-Brest and how they used dark chocolate to contrast the usual sweetness of that dessert.

Hvor was a fun experience from beginning to end – we got very nice and personal service all evening. We even got a tour of the garden at the end of the dinner. The only negative being how long it took to get the check to pay at the end. The food was delicious, presented beautifully and well executed. It took us a while to get here but I’m happy to see that Hvor is still worthy of the praise it got at its opening.

Cheers!

Hvor
1414 Notre-Dame Ouest
514 937 2001

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

Candide

6 Aug

Over the past few years, the Locavore movement has become very strong in Montreal. The desire to showcase local produce throughout the seasons has been the calling card for more and more restaurants in the city. Amongst the chefs who are best know for this approach is John Winter Russell – now working out at Restaurant Candide in Little Burgundy. Located in a old church Rectory – behind the Salon 1861 – Candide is hidden off the beaten path a little bit. I have had it on my ‘infamous’ to-visit list for a while now. My wife decided to plan a secret date night for the two of us and so we headed out of our apartment and walked down Notre Dame Street until we arrived At Candide ready for a intimate dinner on their patio on a beautiful weeknight. Great surprise my love!

The menu at Candide changes on a monthly basis – according to what is available locally – and is a fixed menu. They will adjust according to allergies however. It is a 4 course dinner for 51$ which frankly is a pretty good deal when you compare it to other fine eating establishments in the city. So the next question I am sure you are asking is but what about the portions themselves? Are they plentiful enough? And the answer is yes – we were both rather full at the end of the meal. Candide is a pretty good deal in that regard…. now what about the food itself?

On top of the fixed menu, we were offered an extra dish to add at the start of our meal – and of course I said yes. Marinated Whelk with cucumber, pickles and a herring mousse. This was our least enjoyed dish of the evening. I liked the flavour of the mousse but the rest felt honestly a little fad.

Our next dish was more of a hit. Sliced kohlrabi coated in a yogourt sauce topped with beans, popcorn, marinated red onion and herbs. The presentation of the dish was beautiful – pretty much a constant element throughout the dinner – and the flavours were wonderful. The yogourt sauce added a richness to the dish that didn’t overwhelm. The popcorn was a cool crunch component that played well off the rest.

Our next dish of fresh cherry tomatoes served on top of eggplant and clams was also a big hit. Hits of sweetness and acidity with the saltiness of the clams. I’m not a huge fan of raw tomatoes but this dish worked for me.

For our main courses, we had a choice of 2 and so we decided to share them together. I went with the Guinea Hen served with corn and lobster mushroom. I loved this dish from A to Z – it was my big hit of the evening. The Hen was cooked perfectly – juicy and tender with the crisp skin on top. The mixture of the fresh corn and the lobster mushrooms was a great complement to the protein and felt very fresh – a perfect example of local seasonality.

My wife went with the Arctic Char served over a pepper puree with carrots and onions. Beautiful piece of fish cooked as desired with a nice sweet pepper puree to pair with it. I didn’t love the way the carrots mixed to the dish but my wife enjoyed pretty well.

For dessert, you have the choice of a sweet one or a savoury once. On the sweet side, we had a maple biscuit served with fresh raspberry, a blueberry coulis and cantaloupe sorbet. Outside of the sorbet (not a melon fan), the rest of this dessert was amazing. Great fresh flavours all around – the maple notes tying it all together.

On the savoury side, there was a piece of Pont Blanc cheese topped with fresh zucchini and zucchini flowers and served over a basil emulsion. I don’t love savoury desserts but pulling away from that, as a dish, this was a very creative idea. The mix of basil and cheese paired nicely – as any pesto fan will tell you. Not the way I would finish a meal but still enjoyable.

Candide was a wonderful experience of what our local produce can provide in the hands of a great kitchen. Beautiful dish presentation, great service throughout the night in a relaxed and intimate setting. My wife definitely nailed her date night surprise…. now to return the favour 😉

Cheers!

Candide
551 Rue Saint Martin
514 447 2717

Restaurant Candide Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Clarke Café

5 Aug

As much as I love living in Pointe St Charles, there are things that I miss living in the Plateau. One of these is the proximity of Mile End and particularly St-Viateur St. I loved visiting the street and relaxing there amongst the old cafés, St-Viateur Bagels and the different shops and bakeries. One of the old neighbourhood classics which I never got to visit was Boulangerie Clarke which closed in 2015. Fast forward to a couple of months ago and imagine my surprise when I read that Clarke’s has been revived and not only that but it is now only a few blocks away in my ‘hood! There is definitely a need for a good sandwich shop in PSC so this is a very interesting new addition to the neighbourhood.

The old spot in Mile End was a bakery that also did bread on top of sandwiches and pastries. This new version has eliminated the bread but added coffee to make it more of a café than the original. In the display counter, there is a variety of salads and pastries available. All the sandwiches are made to order and run the gamut with different Italian coldcut options as well as smoked meat and grilled chicken.

Having been a few times, I got to try a couple of sandwiches. Each sandwich is done up with a fresh loaf of bread and dressed up with tomato, lettuce, cheese and dressing (mayo, mustard, dijon or dijonnaise). There are also a bunch of extras you can add – eggplants, marinated peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, etc.. Portion wise, the sandwiches are solid and hearty. I love the bread – it has a airy and chewy texture but holds up firm to all the items in the sandwich. The meats are sliced by order and I find you can always tell the difference when that is done versus pre-cut. Once, I went with the Calabrese – nice heat – and then with the Italian Sausage – which is cut in a patty format to best with the sandwich. Both were excellent and exactly what you would want from a sandwich shop.

From the pastry side of things, of course I needed to try a cannoli. The cream filling was excellent – rich and smooth. The shell was a little softened compared to an ideal crunchy one as the shells were pre-filled versus made to order. Still an excellent cannoli to enjoy.

Point St-Charles was missing a good Italian-style sandwich shop and Clarke Café has filled that space perfectly. It is a much welcomed addition and I seriously hope that they can establish themselves in the same way the old version did in Mile End for 35 years. I may not be a coffee guy but I am certainly a sandwich guy – as such, I will stopping by pretty regularly. Hopefully the rest of my neighbourhood does as well.

Cheers!

Clarke Café
2483 Centre
514 938 5554

Elena

20 Mar

When I heard that the group behind Nora Gray, one of my favourite restaurants in the city, was opening a second restaurant, I got excited. When I heard that it would based around pizza AND be in St-Henri, closer to my neighbourhood in the Point, well that made me very happy indeed. For many months, we heard online about details of the upcoming space until eventually Elena opened up. Reviews were very positive to start so I found myself there for a relax Sunday date night hoping that I had found a great pizza place to enjoy.

For a Sunday night, Elena was certainly busy! The space is a sparse modern vibe – lots of whites and grays. The lighting is mostly ambient and indirect – a strong similarity to Nora Gray but the size and colors of the space make Elena less intimate compared to its sister. The interesting element of the space is the serving counter in the middle of the room used for alcohol, olive oils, salt, pepper, wine glasses, etc. It adds a interestingly retro element but the modern style of the table fits the look they have going.

The menu is small but covers more than just pizza. There are also some salads, some entrees, some meats and pasta options to enjoy! We decided to start with a plate of Gnocco fritto – basically fried pizza dough puffs served with housemade red wine sausage, mortadella, soppressata and marinated eggplant. I found the soft pillowy texture of the fried dough nice but the real treat of this dish is the homemade charcuterie. Nice and rich across the board – I was a big fan of sopressata and the sausage.

For mains, we had a desire for pizza so we stuck to pizza. My fiancé went with the margherita – tomatos, basil and mozza di bufala. I went with the Bianco – potato, pancetta, onions and kénogami cheese. Elena does Napoletana-style pizza – the dough is lightly chewy, the crust barely charred and pillowy. There is no crunch to the bottom. The pizza requires you to fold it because it will not hold on its own. Based on that style, Elena nails the dough – if you are expecting a crispy base, you will not get that here. I enjoyed the chewy pillowy texture immensely.

However, we both had issues regarding the topping on our pizza. For the margherita, my fiancé found the tomato ‘sauce’ very thin and watery. It felt like the pizza should have had more tomatoes than it did and thus the balance between the cheese and tomatoes felt off. In my case, I liked the flavour of the Bianco but I also felt like there is a lack of the quantity of the toppings. When I compared to other Napoletana-style pizzas places in the city, I feel like I got more toppings on the pizza than this. It is a subtle thing but we both left feeling slightly disappointed in our pizzas.

I love Nora Gray so this visit was a bit of a letdown for me personally. It was fine but given how highly I rate Nora Gray, fine is not what I was expecting from their pizza. I am now very interesting in seeing what I get while in Naples this summer on our next trip because I wonder how close Elena is to traditional pizzas and how what I have had locally impacted my enjoyment of their pizza. Pizza can be a very personal experiment so I’m sure Elena’s pie will satisfy many but for the moment, it is not my preference.

Cheers!

Elena
5090 Notre-Dame Ouest
514 379 4883

Foxy

24 Jan

Special occasions call for a certain kind of restaurant. A place of intimacy and finesse with killer food and a certain coolness as well. We are lucky in Montreal to have many places that suit these criteria. For this particular occasion – My fiancé and I celebrating our anniversary – we chose to try a restaurant in our neighbourhood that I had been dying to try – Foxy.

Located on the restaurant row that is Notre Dame Street in St-Henri and Little Burgundy, Foxy is the sister restaurant of Old Port staple bakery Olive+Gourmando. The space is long and narrow with an open kitchen about midway with lots of low lighting and a beautiful bar straight across. I had heard that the room could get very loud and noisy at times but we were there on a quiet night so that wasn’t at all an issue.

Foxy’s menu works around grilling over a live fire or roasting in a wood-burning oven. The menu is smallish but every dish inspired interest from both of us. We first started with a couple of entrées. The winter coleslaw composed of brussel sprouts, savoy cabbage, apple, duck confit and celery root puree was a big hit for me. Beautiful presentation and a very hearty portion as a appetizer. The flavour of the duck came through primarily but each of the other element brought something nice in terms of flavours and texture. The addition of what seemed like a cider vinaigrette added a nice acidic kick to top it all off. Probably as great a winter salad as I have had.

Our second dish was roasted cauliflower served with turmeric, zoug yogurt, fried shallots and almonds. Another hit for us – tons of flavours coming through with the roasted vegetable, the crunchy sweetness of the shallots, the heat of the turmeric and the coolness of the yogourt. Another hearty portion as well.

The positive vibes continued through the main courses. I went with the herb sausage served with pecorino cheese, mashed potatoes, blackened brussel sprouts and house gravy. Delicious from beginning to end. The herb sausage was surprisingly spicy but the addition of the cheese paired well with that. The mash and gravy mix is always a good one and more lovely roasted sprouts didn’t hurt either.

My fiancé went with the charcoal grilled sea bass served with aioli and cucumber celery salad. The charred sea bass was beautiful and had such a great grilled flavour to it. Just add a little lemon and we’re good. Even better though was the house aioli – great consistency and very strong flavour. Perfect complement to the fish. I don’t care much for a cucumber salad but my fiancé loved it so we’re good 😉

Dessert options seemed wonderful – the chocolate bourbon brownie had me at hello – but the portions of our dishes were so generous that we were completely full and needed to pass…. Too bad but a good sign otherwise! Add to that great food very solid service throughout the night and we left Foxy very satisfied with our meal and our choice of venue for our occasion. We continued to get spoiled in Montreal for the quality of our restaurants. Foxy quickly made its way up our list of go-tos. The fact that we can walk to it from our place just makes it even better. Now I guess I should finally go to Olive+Gourmando now…..

Cheers!

Foxy
1638 Notre Dame Ouest
514 925 7007

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

Brasseur de Montreal

5 Dec

For local beer fans, the name Brasseur de Montreal is definitely one you will know. The Griffintown-based brewer is a staple of the local microbrew scene and is a personal favorite of mine. However, what you may not know is that they have a full restaurant at their Griffintown brewery. Despite it being so close to my place, I hadn’t visited yet. I found myself there on a Saturday night with a small group curious to see if the food matchs the quality of the beer.

The space is rather big – very industrial in look with a window to the kettles behind the bar. They also have a great terrasse space but this being November at the time, not really the right time to enjoy it. On tap, you can find all their beers and some seasonal stuff…. or at least usually because on this occasion, many options were not available – such as all of their white beers. Not quite what you want from a brewpub. At least I could still get a classic Griffintown blond but that shouldn’t happen ever.

As a starter, we went for the BdM sweet potato fries with chives, garlic, parmesan and spicy mayo. Pretty good overall. The fries were crunch yet not overcooked inside. The mayo had a nice little kick to it. Solid starter. We also got to try the house made fried calamari served with chipotle mayo. Another solid dish – nice crunch to them but they kept the tenderness you want from calamari.

For mains, my fiancé went with the smoked and fresh salmon tartar mixed with apple, chives, sour cream and yogourt. Nice portion size and good presentation. The salmon was fresh and the mix of the smoked salmon is an interesting idea to bend into the tartare however the whole dish felt like it lacked flavour and seasoning – the taste of chives and apples were no where to be seen. The portion of fries that came with it was generous. The salad was okay but didn’t bring much.

I decided to go with the pulled pork sandwich – smoked pork shoulder served with bbq sauce, onion compote and gruyere. The pork itself was nice and tender, good smoke to it. The bbq sauce had a nice mix of sweet but smoky however the sandwich could have used more of it. The sandwich felt a little dry as a result. I enjoyed the use of gruyere and the sweetness of the compote worked well. The fries were also plentiful and very good – always love matchstick style.

I left the dinner a little disappointed. The food was okay – good but the lack of seasoning is what can make the difference between a good meal and a great meal. Brasseur de Montreal have great beer and clearly a great terrasse to enjoy – I just wish I could say the same for the food.

Cheers!

Brasseur de Montreal
1485 Rue Ottawa
514 788 4500

Brasseur de Montreal Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Knox Taverne

8 Oct

I love my neighbourhood. Pointe-St-Charles offers so much to a resident in terms of location, proximity to the market, the old port, downtown, etc. However, as a neighbourhood that is developing, the main artery, Centre Street, leaves much to be desired. Over the past few years, businesses have slowly been opening, restaurant-bars included. One of the more interesting ones is Knox Taverne. A taverne on the eastern part of the street, it has developed a nice following around the neighbourhood for the atmosphere and the interesting food options it provides. As someone who wishes that local businesses thrive, I have been enough times now to write something up food wise.

Knox is a simple but nice looking room that really enhances the nature of the old building that houses it. The brick walls, the exposed wood beams, the incandescent lights, the beautiful long bar – the space is warm and intimate. Windowed garage doors create the possibility of opening up the space in the summer on top of having the terrasse on the side of the building. The music is also great – tons of classic rock with some more recent hits. When I spend all night wanting to sign along, your playlist is working.

Drinkwise, Knox has a nice beer and wine selection that is very reasonably priced. They also have an interesting cocktail menu – their Knox Gin and Tonic with house tonic is nicely balanced with a more floral touch.

Despite its more bar-like setting, the food really steps outside of typical bar food. First off, they have fresh oysters on thursdays and fridays at a buck per before 8pm. A pretty nice deal – and the quality is there!

On the appetizer side, I’ve had a few different options. The fish tacos with red cabbage coleslaw, tomatillo pico de gallo and chipotle mayonnaise are excellent. A hearty portion of tender flaky fish with a nice combination of heat and sweet with the pico de gallo and mayo. The Knox fries – tossed with garlic parmesan – are exactly my kind of fries. Thin with a nice crunch but still tender inside. The last side dish to note is the brussel sprouts. Yeah… brussel sprouts! Didn’t expect that at a tavern did you? Sautéed with a maple sauce and served with some radish and shallots, this is a great subtle dish with a mix of earthiness and sweetness – exactly how I love to work with sprouts myself.

As a main, the big favourite is the Knox Burger – served with Coca-Cola Mayo, Caramelized Onions, Fried Pickle and Old Cheddar. Other than the pickle (not a fan as I have indicated many times before), the rest of the burger is excellent. The sweetness of Coca-Cola actually comes out in the mayo. The burger is cooked to perfection and I love the use of the classic potato bun. On the other end of the main spectrum, they have a beet risotto served with a walnut pesto and parmesan shavings. No picture of that one but the bright purple of the dish may throw people off but it is an excellent dish and again, a surprising inclusion to a tavern manu but one that appears very appreciated of the patrons the times I have been there.

Great atmosphere, solid alcohol options, surprisingly interesting and refined cuisine with good prices and very quick and friendly service to boot… Knox is a great addition to the neighbourhood that caters well to both ends of the spectrum that our neighbourhood encompasses. Very happy to support this PSC business and I hope that it is a sign of times to come for my hood.

Cheers!

Knox Taverne
1871 Rue Centre
514 933 3523

Ice Cream Roundup – Pandan Creamery, La Diperie, Ca Lem

6 Aug

Summer time – it is hot, humid and we need to cool down. What better than a nice ice cream cone to make that happen? In Montreal, we have been spoiled over the past few years in terms of number of great ice cream shops that have opened up across the different neigborhoods. Wherever you live, you can get great artisan ice cream. I have already written about a few – my current champion is Dalla Rose by far – but over the past few weeks, I have tried a few other ones.

First up, Pandan Creamery moved this summer from their original location to Notre-Dame Street just west of the Atwater Market. Pandan brought to Montreal the Thai rolled up style of ice cream where they make it in front of you on frozen metal plaques and then create rolled-up logs in a cup for you.

Presentation wise, it is beautiful – almost rose-like in look – but that presentation takes time as it takes about 5 minutes for each order to be made. Not the end of the world but if there is a line-up when you arrive, remember that when you wonder why the line seems to last a while. The flavours changed daily – there were 8 different ones when we went. We decided to go with the mango ice cream topped with coconut flakes. The mango came through nicely however the texture is a little more brittle and grainy than I like personally. The other issue is that to eat it, you basically need it to melt a bit because there is no easy to eat rolled-up ice cream with a spoon. That makes Pandan a cool spot but with certain caveats for me.

Pandan Creamery
3504 Notre-Dame St W
514 588 6501

Pandan Creamery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Next, I finally tried La Diperie! Now, I know I am a few years behind on this one. What was originally one location on Pine Ave. has exploded this year as they franchised so now, in Quebec alone, there are 21 locations now. The opening of a St-Henri location made it easier for me to finally see what all the buzz is about.

La Diperie is know for their ridiculous dipped soft served cones topped with tons of topping. The amount of choices is a bit ridiculous in terms of both dips and toppings. Plus, they have speciality cones. I decided to go for one of their speciality cone and went for their Lime Key Pie sundae with lemonade lime dip and tea cookie topping. The soft serve vanilla texture wise was great – reminded me of classic Dairy Queen of my youth. Flavour was good as well. The dip was very flavourful and very mimicked key lime pie very well. The consistent of the dip allowed it to stiffen up perfectly around the soft serve so no issues cleanliness-wise but it was very sweet to the point of being a little overbearing.

The concept is good but it is clearly popular enough at this point but I think I need to try a few other sundae to see if the other dips are that sweet as well before I can make this place a to-go for me.

La Diperie
4600 Notre-Dame St W
514 379 1442

Lastly, I went to NDG to try CA LEM, a ice cream shop that was been getting great buzz for some of the cool and unique flavours that have been playing with. They have a variety of different ice cream and sorbets that ranges from normal to more unique. We tried their black sesame which is a weird to think about but worked really well. Just be aware that the blackness of the ice cream means that you will have a very dark tongue afterwards!

They also have a weekly soft serve and sorbet combo – on this week, courtesy of fellow blogger Jason Lee of Shut Up and Eat, it was Peanut Butter and Jelly – that childhood classic in cone form. No one I was going to miss that! The soft serve peanut butter was lucious and had a great nutty flavour. The strawberry sorbet was smooth and also had a great depth of flavour. Very enjoyable and very creative.

Ca Lem is a great spot in NDG and I love their interest in going special flavours. That creativity is always appreciated. If you are anywhere close, I highly recommend stopping in.

CA LEM
6926 Sherbrooke West

Ca Lem Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

So lots of ice cream to get excited about around the city – and that excludes some of the classic like Kem Koba, Havres Aux Glaces, my new favourite Dalla Rose, Aux Givres and many more. The key thing is find your favourite and savour a few cones before the season is over!

Cheers!

Le Smoking Vallée

16 Jul

Montreal BYOBs are a very much a hit or miss proposition in a lot of cases. One particular group of restauranteurs have seemingly succeeded in establishing a BYOB template that works. Marc-André Paradis, George Blais, and Thierry Dufour and Co. have a large of collections of restaurants that now cover most of the different neighbourhoods in the city. Their names are synonymous with excellent in BYOB and yet, I have never been to any….. a blind spot of mine to be sure. Luckily, recently, I had a chance to visit their St-Henri local, Le Smoking Vallée and see how it stacks up.

Le Smoking Vallée is a simple space decorated sorta post-industrial – well lit, lacquered wood tables, wooden chairs. The only real ‘pop’ element is a large panorama mural of St-Henri as taken from the Lachine Canal. The space is not that big and yet got very loud once full. I honestly do not recall music or at least couldn’t really hear it. The service was very friendly but honestly pretty slow. It took about one hour for us to see our first course which is outside reasonable delays.

The menu is market, slightly french in style. Your options are either a table d’hôte or simply ordering per dish. I was hungry enough that I went with the table d’hôte. The menu changes seasonly and there are daily dishes as well. First up, the bouchée of the day was a mushroom tartar with a mayo and crouton. Solid start.

As a starter, I went with the mushroom puff pastry with poached egg, lardon and truffle. Lovely combination of the earthy roasted sautéed mushrooms, the creamy poached egg, the rich lardon and the flaky pastry. Good execution and great flavours. Very enjoyable. I also tried the cod croquettes with cocktail mayonnaise. The cod croquettes were nicely sized and had a nice crunch. The cod meat was flavourful and plentiful within each croquette. The mayo added a nice creaminess as well.

Following the starters, a little strawberry, whisky and rhubarb trou normand followed to provided a sweet but strong palate cleanser.

As a main, I went with the duck breast served with papaya, sweet potato puree and spice jus. Very interesting blend of french technique and plating but with some south-east Asian flavours. The duck was cooked perfectly and had great flavour. The pickled papaya gave the dish nice heat and the puree had a nice creamy sweetness to it.

My fiancé had the special of the day which was grilled chorizo and calamari served with chickpeas in a Indian-style curry. Very different flavour profile compared to my dish but equally as well done. Both sausage and calamari was done well and the strong Indian flavours came through very nicely.

Lastly for dessert, a chocolate carré with sponge and pear and matcha tea purée. The chocolate was very rich and creamy. The puree was sweet with the hint of matcha that makes enjoyable and not overwhelming.

All in all, solid technique and plating, great flavours and a comfortable setting makes Smoking Vallee a solid choice as a BYOB within Montreal. Service was a little slow but otherwise no major complaints. So if you want a nice BYOB, look up these gentlemen – there is a good chance they have a BYOB in your neighbourhood for you to enjoy.

Cheers!

Le Smoking Vallée
4370 Notre-Dame Ouest
514 932 0303

Le Smoking Vallée Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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