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TRAN Cantine Vietnamienne

8 May

The joys of the Montreal food scene is when you get a ‘weird’ craving, you can actually easily find a spot to satisfy said craving. We are blessed with so many options and variety in our fair city. A couple of weeks ago, I got a craving for pho. Maybe it was the colder than usual weather. Maybe it was just because it had been too long since my last bowl. Either way, I wanted some pho. Luckily for me, there is actually a pho place close to my house which I hadn’t tried yet so what a perfect time to head over to St-Henri and check out TRAN Cantine Vietnamienne.

Cantine TRAN is located on the corner of Notre Dame and De Courcelle – just on the edge of the ridiculous food strip that is Notre Dame street in St-Henri. The place is simple in decor – other than the huge fish tank by the washrooms. The space is very bright through the lighting both artificial and natural from the large windows in front. Seating is for about 15-20 people. There is also delivery service through UberEats or takeout if you wish which it what I went for.

The menu is a variety of classic Vietnamese dishes. First up, a couple of different roll options. Their spring roll of chicken, shrimp, vermicelli, mint and cilantro served with peanut sauce was very bright and fresh. A classic starter roll. The peanut sauce had a nice sweet flavour which paired well with the roll. The imperial rolls – pork, mushroom, onion, carrot and vermicelli deep-fried – were okay. Good crunch but they didn’t really pop flavour wise.

Being a Vietnamese shop, of course they also have Banh Mi sandwiches on the menu so I needed to try one as well. Served in a fresh baguette with pickled carrots and daikon radishes, cucumber, scallions, soy sauce, cilantro and housemate mayo, TRAN offers a choice of chicken, pork, beef or soybean curd in their sandwiches. I went with grilled chicken on this occasion and it was amazing. Probably the best Banh Mi I have had in town – excellent bread with a perfect combination of acidity, sweetness and freshness. Very very good.

And finally we have the pho – the actual source of my craving. TRAN offers the option of either beef flanc, rare beef, chicken or soybean curd. It is a chicken based broth served with fresh rice noodles, onion, cilantro, scallions and fresh chilis, basil and bean sprouts on the side. This was exactly what I was looking for. Super flavourful and clean broth, nice tender noodles and an excellent portion. It is amazing that I can get such good pho so close to home.

TRAN is an excellent spot for great Vietnamese food. Whether for a sandwich or some pho, I think you will be very happy with your experience. St-Henri continues to be a great food haven for the Sud-Ouest part of Montreal and I, for one, am very happy for that. Now on to the next craving 😉

Cheers!

TRAN Cantine Vietnamienne
4690 Rue Notre-Dame O
514 379 4690

TRAN Cantine Vietnamienne Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Fugazzi Pizza

25 Mar

It is quite something to watch your neighbourhood change before your eyes. Seeing old places close and replaced with newer businesses that come in, changing the type of services and shops that are available close to home. In Pointe St-Charles, as more professionals move into the area, we are seeing more and more new options open up and with some serious backing behind them. One of the most recent is Fugazzi Pizza. Located on Centre street across from Knox and close to the Nordelec building, Fugazzi is from the Barroco group – owners of Barroco, Foiegwa and the Atwater Cocktail Club.

Fugazzi took over the old Irish pub that was once there and completely changed it into a weird homage to the 90s and kitsch. Lots of bright colours, neons and jagged shapes all over the walls and decor. I was partial to the wall with an old VCR and tube TV under an multicolour shark. Paired with the 90s music playing over top, it is weird but yet it works in the space.

Food-wise, Fugazzi is going for Italian with a focus on Neapolitan style pizza. Our first appetizer was the citrus salad with fennel, pistachios and bottarga. An interesting available option that doesn’t quite fit the vibe of the restaurant but one that was quite enjoyable. Very subtle and light – very fresh and citrusy. A good start for sure.

Our other appetizer was homemade mozzarella sticks served with tomato sauce and horseradish. Honestly, probably the best I have had in years. Very flavourful with a wonderfully thick and crunchy outer coating. The use of horseradish to pair with the tomato dipping sauce was interesting and pretty good – provided some strong heat, if you desired, with the creaminess of the cheese stick.

As main courses, since Fugazzi is supposed to be a pizza place, we decided to go with a couple of their pizzas. In classic Napolitean style, they are individual-sized pizzas although you can order larger ones for take-out. My friend went with the One Night in Paris – tomato, ham, olives, gruyere, button mushrooms, egg – and I went with the Wu Tang Killa Bees – tomato, calabrese, honey, thyme oil, mozzarella. Great names by the way. There are more and more Napolitean-style pizzas being served in the city so we can start to compare nicely between them. In this case, the pizzas were fine but not the best we had have. The crust had the right thickness and chew you look for but frankly both were too charred underneath for our liking and that impacted the taste. Ingredients were plentiful but nothing really wowed us. This is a solid idea of a pizza but not one I will be running for.

We also tried to go up to the cocktail bar they build upstairs afterwards – Milky Way – but at 8:45 on a Thursday, there was already a wait list! Not quite something I am used to in my neighbourhood and frankly not really a great thing either but it speaks to the hype that exists around this opening. I am happy to have a pizzeria like this near home for the variety it provides. It is not a run-to for me but as someone who wants to see more businesses succeed in my neighbourhood, I hope they continue to work on becoming a better and better pizzeria.

Cheers!

Fugazzi Pizza
1886 Centre
438 522 7499

McKiernan Luncheonette

20 Feb

Small rant first if I may: Working as a physiotherapist in the West Island sucks in terms of lunch options. First off, my job doesn’t really allow for the time necessary to go out for lunch so even if I wished to splurge on a special occasion for fun, it really isn’t possible outside of a takeout/delivery option. And secondly, the West Island is a weird dead zone of high end restaurants for the most part. So, as an actual resident of the Sud-Ouest, when I heard that the Joe Beef guys and the Maison Publique guys – two of my favourite restaurants in the city – were opening up a weekday breakfast and lunch option in Ville Émard, I was insanely jealous and sad that I wouldn’t be able to try them under normal circumstances. (Now… they just announced last week that they are now open for dinner Thursdays and Fridays but I needed a narrative hook to start this post so please work with me.) Due to some legal matters that required my wife and I to take our afternoons off on a random weekday (yay home renos plans!), I took advantage and we decided to make our way to McKiernan for a late lunch and see if all the wonderful stuff I was seeing online was as great as I hoped.

Located off St-Patrick in the Dompark complex, McKiernan is a very different project from Joe Beef and Maison Publique. It is essentially a fancy canteen. The space is huge compared to their other restaurants and more sparse in terms of look and decor. The room is filled with long tables and benches that you share with others. They utilize the original flooring and wooden support beams of the space. The all white walls with the large windows overlooking the Canal makes the space very bright and open. I love the use of the string lights as extra lighting. There is a beautiful counter and bar area in the back as a focal point to the space. There is still the definite Canadiana touches you expect from Derek, Dave and Fred – such as the use of a canoe in decor and the local artwork.

The menu is a interesting mix of options for lunch fare. First up, we tried the McKiernan chowder – a very generous portion of potato and lardon chowder topped with potato chips and chives. An excellent chowder – not too heavy but very flavourful. Buttery and rich with lots of lardons and some potato chunks providing some fattiness and some consistency to the soup. I loved the additional crunch of the chips with the soup.

On top of the regular menu, McKiernan also has daily and weekly specials that change. I went with one of those: their “Beigne Pressé” of porchetta, rapini, pesto and cheese. A supercharged panini and a very good at that. Any combination of rich porchetta, cheese and pesto is good with me – especially in a great buttery bun! I really loved the touch of acidity that they added with the vinegar on the greens that topped the sandwich. It added a nice lighter dimension.

My wife decided on their pasta of the day – Casarecce with boudin blanc and chou de Savoy. Another excellent dish – the rich creamy sauce clung nicely to the fresh tender pasta with the notes of the boudin and the cabbage mixing within the dish. Very well done and delicious.

Lastly, to go, because I couldn’t say no to having one of the many baked goods they had at the counter, we got one of their 70% Chocolate and sea salt cookies. A perfect mixture of gooey rich chocolate with a salty kick to it. The cookie was super tender with a nice initial crunch.

McKiernan is exactly what I was hoping – what would happen if Joe Beef and Maison Publique did lunch and breakfast. The food is excellent and super interesting outside of the usual lunch fare. The space is nice and welcoming – there is ping pong and baby foot if you have some extra free time. The space is also available for renting for events and it also allows them to offer catering services – very welcomed services given the quality of the work they do. Thankfully, now that McKiernan is open for dinner 2 nights a week, they become more of a option for me to try. Otherwise, I would need to find more excuses to be “stuck” at home for work! Regardless, McKiernan is a must-try for anyone.

Cheers!

McKiernan Luncheonette
5524 Rue Saint-Patrick #200
514 759 6677

Bête à Pain Griffintown (Brunch Edition)

12 Feb

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

Bête à Pain Griffintown
195 Young
514 509 8937

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

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

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

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