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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

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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

Le H4C

28 Dec

For my final review of 2016, we have my final MTL à Table choice from November. For about 3 years now, I had heard great things about a restaurant located in the heart of St-Henri. Living near McGill, I thought about it but never went. Last year, moving to Pointe-St-Charles meant I could walk there now if I wanted to… but I still didn’t visit. Finally, the opportunity came around so I found myself at le H4C ready to see if the wait was worth it.

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Started by the founders of an architectural firm and chef Dany Bolduc, le H4C has the stated goal of combining responsible and sustainable architecture to gastronomy. The restaurant is located within a 1893 vintage building that used to be a post office. It has been restored beautifully – showcasing the old features of the brownstone while adding some more modern touches. The space is completely open and beautiful – the use of wood tables and leather banquette and chairs complement well the gorgeous stone exterior walls. The overall vibe is very calm and intimate – a perfect date night location.

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The menu is an interesting mix. I supposed one could call market cuisine with emphasis on local ingredients using french technique. It lents itself to very particular dishes. First up was housemade duck pancetta with papadoum, lime, curry, mustard, tamarin and cilantro. The pancetta was wonderful – the fatty taste of duck very strong and the texture wonderfully tender. The papadoum (a sort of Indian fried tortilla) provided a nice crunch to pair with the duck. The sauces dotted along the papadoum provided different accents flavours to play with. An excellent dish.

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Our second starter was equally well executed. The marinated salmon with cauliflower, creme fraiche, salmon roe and spices was similar to the first in that the primary ingredient was done simply but so well. The fish had great freshness and a lovely texture to it. The use of cauliflower and creme fraiche, while weird together in theory, worked very well with the salmon to enhance it by bringing in some richness.

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The final entree we tried was the Ricotta gnudi with gruyere, onion and croutons. Essentially a french onion soup broken down with gnudi instead of that big cheesy bread. A very cool usage of a classic French recipe and have some fun with it. Excellent onion broth – rich and smooth. The gundi were soft and lovely balls of rich ricotta. Adding the gruyere on top just made it richer and more filling.

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Our mains continued the high level of execution. First was the octopus with tandoori, caramelized yogourt, red onion, basmati rice and coconut. The octopus was wonderfully tender and the tandoori spices brought some nice flavour. The combination of the red onion and the yogourt provided some nice sweetness and creaminess to pair with the octopus.

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My dish of the night was the main I ordered: smoked meat with potatoes, smoked onions, rye, mustard and marinated cabbage. A wonderfully weird deconstructed smoked meat sandwich that tasted as close to the real thing as possible without having just meat between rye bread. The smoked meat was perfect – getting that right level of tenderness and flavour. I was just missing my root beer (or cherry coke if that’s more your thing)!

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The desserts had a hard time matching the highs of the mains. First the lemon meringue with cucumber ice cream and gin was interesting texturally but the cucumber popped more than the lemon or even the gin which didn’t work for me. The squash with gingerbread, white chocolate and pumpkin seeds was an interesting savoury sweet idea that worked better in theory than practice. No one at the table really enjoyed the preparation of the squash – almost gelatinous but the flavour didn’t work at all. The gingerbread and white chocolate mousse were excellent but that wasn’t really the point.. We also got some housemade popcorn which was very good as well.

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Le H4C was a solid night out. A very high level of execution throughout the meal in a beautiful environment. With the exception of the desserts, the meal was enjoyable by everyone at the table. I’m happy to see a restaurant such as this one succeeded in my part of town and I’m sorry it took this long to come visit. They also do brunch so I will need to check that out as well. Le H4C deserves your attention if you are visiting the Sud Ouest.

Cheers!

Le H4C
538 Place St-Henri
514 316 7234

Le H4C Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Industria Brasserie Italienne

27 Dec

The Holidays are a time to enjoy and celebrate with family. They are also a time to catch up on my writing. The next few reviews are a few months old now…. sorry for the delays. First up, I got a chance to visit Industria Brasserie Italienne for a mini McGill Football alumni get-together for homecoming. The results of the weekend weren’t as we hoped on the field but I hoped at least I would get to enjoy a good meal at a place I’d had on my list for a while.

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Located right in the epicentre of the Griffintown boom at the corner of Peel and Wellington, Industria is a project started by the Houston restaurant chain and chef Sergio Mattoscio – formerly of Macaroni Bar. Since first opening in Griffintown, they have opened a couple of other franchises in Montreal and Ottawa. The concept, according to them, is a modern pizzeria with an emphasis on sharing plates. Walking in, the venue is very sprawling and is definitely going for an industrial loft style with its high ceilings, metallic chairs, wood topped tables and black leather-ish banquettes. The bar area has plenty of TVs and the dining area has a huge glassed-in wine cellar. Frankly the space didn’t work for me – felt way too big and lacked focus. The bar and dining areas feel very distinct and separate. One section to another felt like totally different restaurants. Coupled with the loud music, Industria felt more like a supper club than an Italian Pizzeria. I may be of the age demo who would like that ambience but personally it doesn’t do it for me.

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As I was drinking my Aperol Spritz, I was hopeful the food would spark my enthusiasm more than the ambience and the decor. The menu focuses on plates to share as well as some pizzas. As a group, we ordered a bunch of the starters to share. A mixed bag overall. The salad of mozzarella di bufala, tomatoes, cucumber, celery and fresh basil was solid with a freshness to the tomatoes and the mozzarella. The fried calamari with spicy mayo felt bland and came off as store bought honestly. They felt overly chewy and lacked seasoning. The meatballs with tomato sauce, ricotta, parmesan and basil were excellent – the meatballs were tender and juicy and the tomato sauce was wonderful. The pulled bacon lollipops with maple reduction had a nice crunch on the outside but the bacon inside was way too soft and mushy in texture. I know it’s pulled bacon but it still needed a bit of crunch to really enhance that fatty bacon flavour. The maple reduction brought a nice sweetness level but the texture of the bacon sunk it for most of the table.

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As chef Mattoscio is known for his gnocchi poutine, I couldn’t come to the restaurant without ordering it. Fried potato gnocchi covered in a light chicken sauce and served with cheese curds that I am pretty sure were mozzarella and not traditional curds, I was left very disappointed in this dish. Flavour-wise, it felt way too rich and yet without much kick to it. I loved the gnocchi themselves but the cheese didn’t bring that squeak you want from a poutine and the sauce really didn’t do it for me.

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Thankfully the pizza finished my meal on a more positive note. I went with the Carnivoro – italian sausage, salumi, bacon, tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella. Wonderful crunch to the crust, a nice zesty tomato sauce, tons of mozzarella and meat toppings, the pizza is the only dish I ordered that I would come back for.

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In the end, Industria left me disappointed – the pizza was excellent but the rest of the menu was a mix of disappointed to okay. Add to it a look and ambience that I didn’t take to and I left with no real desire to return. Perhaps for a pizza and a drink on happy hour but not sure about a full meal. Industria certainly tried to be a looker but in my case, she just ain’t my type.

Cheers!

Industria Brasserie Italienne
100 Peel #112
514 931 4545

Industria - Brasserie Italienne Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Arthurs Nosh Bar

4 Dec

Fall is always a crazy time schedule-wise for myself especially on weekends so when a rare free morning appeared, the only logical thing to do in my mind was to go brunch. A lot of good new brunch options have continued to pop up in and around Montreal but the one that has really grabbed my attention recently was the new one closest to me – Arthurs Nosh Bar. Situated on my favourite strip of Notre Dame Ouest in St-Henri, Arthurs is the brainchild of the owners of Back of House Catering, Raegan Steinberg and Alex Cohen. The couple’s Jewish restaurant is open for breakfast, brunch and lunch and has a great look and feel.

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Walking in, the space feels a touch traditional Jewish deli but with some more modern sleekness. I love the combination of the penny-tiled floor, the huge green back bar lined with jars and bottles as well as the letter board menus. There is even the candy jar on the counter! But then you add the marble countertops, the bistro chairs, the leather banquets and the black-and-white pictures on the walls… the experience feels more refined than a Jewish Deli. The awesome musical mix creates a more relaxed fun atmosphere as well – anytime you have my sister and I both smiling at the choices, you are doing it right.

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The menu for Brunch is a mix of Jewish dishes – more Eastern European traditions from what I understand – with some modern touches. We ended up sticking to the more traditional stuff. My sister went for the Latke Smorgasbord – Latke served with gravlax, scrambled eggs, sour cream, tomato, cucumber and caviar. A solid portion with every element working well. The latke was excellent with a nice crunch to it. The texture on the gravlax was beautiful and the eggs were nice and fluffy.

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I went for something I had never heard of before – Syrniki or cottage cheese pancakes. I normally don’t like cottage cheese on its own but its inclusion in the pancakes created a wonderfully fluffy and rich texture. Add a generous pour of maple syrup overtop and I was in pancake heaven. The pancakes were huge which made for a very filling plate. I still added a side of grilled salami to get a little kick with the sweetness overload. Grilling the salami gave it a little crunch which was a nice texture contrast to the pancakes.

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To finish the brunch, we decided to split a piece of Cinnamon Babka – essentially a Jewish play on a Cinnamon Roll. Nice cinnamon flavour, fluffy texture and a little sweet glaze over the top – nothing to complain about here.

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Arthur Nosh Bar certainly held up to my expectations… and given how the restaurant filled up within 20 minutes of it opening on the Sunday we visited, I guess plenty of others are satisfied as well. Outside of a Deli, we don’t get much exposure to Jewish cuisine so it is great to see something so different in the Montreal landscape. I would definitely be interested in a dinner menu if ever they decide to go that route. In the meantime, I will simply come back to enjoy more great Brunch and Lunch fare!

Cheers!

Arthurs Nosh Bar
4621 Notre-Dame Ouest
514 757 5190

Arthur's Nosh Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Le Fantome

23 Oct

Tasting menus can be scary to some people. Will I like all the dishes served to me? Why can’t I just order what I want? Or more importantly, do I trust the chef enough to fully guide my restaurant experience? Fundamentally that is the question when confronted with a tasting menu. Personally, I think the tasting menu is a great way to evaluate a restaurant as it should technically be what the chef wishes to serve you. If you don’t like the tasting menu then I suspect the restaurant will not be for you. In Montreal, a few recent restaurants have decided to go only tasting menu – a bold choice but one that certainly can be interesting. One of these is Le Fantome. A relatively new restaurant located in Griffintown, Le Fantome has received plenty of rave reviews since their opening and actually switched to an only-tasting menu option sometime after their opening. Given their close proximity to my place, it was a perfect date night spot for my girlfriend and I a few weeks ago.

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Hidden on William street, Le Fantome is very unassuming from the outside. In fact, you’re likely to miss it when you drive by. The narrow room is sparsely lit decorated only with abstract paintings from chef Jason Morris’s great- grandfather. Not my style artistically but it goes create a nice intimate setting. Noise level was relatively high when we arrived but decreased nicely as the night went on. As our table was not ready, manager Kabir Kapoor provided us with a couple of glasses of white wine for our troubles. That level of quality service continued throughout the night. Very attentive and friendly.

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Once we were sitting, we were provided a menu with both a small or large tasting menu to choose from. The menu simply listed the primary ingredient of each dish. The rest was explained by our wait staff as we received each dish. I went for the larger tasting menu which was comprised of 7 plates and 2 desserts.

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First was a simple amuse bouche of blackberries with foie de volaille. A nice combination of sweet and richness.

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Our second course was a beet salad with creme fraiche, almonds, pistachios and graham crackers. This course let us know that we would be in good hands on this night. The beets were fresh and sliced thinly. The richness of the creme fraiche paired so well with the beets. The nuts brought a little crunch and the addition of the graham crackers added a extra hint of sweetness. A wonderfully balanced dish.

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Third course was a raisin and blueberry salad with black liquorice. Pretty simple overall. I was surprised at how the black liquorice came through but there wasn’t much to get excited about here otherwise.

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The fourth dish was a beef tartar with red peppers, olive oil and elephant garlic shavings. Served in strips, the beef was nice and tender. The dish has good kick to it – reminded me as a stir-fry from a flavour profile. I honestly didn’t pick up the garlic very much. The sweetness of the red pepper was more noticeable.

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The next course was a little more unique – Popcorn risotto. A very creamy risotto with actual popcorn mixed in. A cool textural play and the popcorn brought a nice buttery flavour to the dish. I honestly found the risotto itself lacking any punch without the popcorn flavour-wise though.

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The next dish was salmon lightly poached with kombucha spices, crispy skin, basil and lemon puree. Pardon the bad photographer for the shoddy picture – doesn’t do its presentation service. My girlfriend didn’t enjoy the almost raw texture but I found it interesting. The basil and the puree were the big flavour providers though. The spices didn’t do much for me.

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The seventh dish was a standout for me: Chicken breast and thigh with salsa verde and chicken jus. Loved the chicken two ways – the deep fried thigh had a great crunch to it. The salsa verde was fresh and flavourful. The chicken jus was rich and smooth. Great showcase of execution and technique.

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Now…. Le Fantome offers another dish which you can add to your tasting for a great fee. It is the dish that they are know for early in their existence: a PBJ and foie gras sandwich on toasted brioche. Of course I needed to try it! Just amazing – if you don’t like foie gras, it won’t work for you. For the rest of us though, such a great combination – the buttery brioche, the rich sliver of foie gras, the sweet jam and the smooth peanut butter. I simply wish I could have had more!

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Dessert-wise, we got to try 4 different ones as the shorter tasting (which my girlfriend took) had 2 different desserts than mine. First was a raspberry sorbet sandwich. Loved the strong berry taste and the smooth sorbet texture.

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Second was pear with whipped mascarpone. Our favorite dessert of the night. So simple and yet so effective. Whipping the mascarpone lighten the texture and that richness was perfect with the sweet pear.

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Third was Corn Creme Caramel. Loved the texture of the creme caramel and how the use of corn subtly changed the flavour. However, the burnt caramel sauce didn’t work for either of us. It felt too burnt and left a taste that lacked the sweetness we wanted.

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The final dessert was a pair of Jade Orange candies. A bit-sized hit of nice orange flavour. No complaints here.

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Le Fantôme’s tasting menu spoke of a refined and well-executed cuisine focused on the market that is able to have some fun at the same time. I very much enjoyed the experience of following chef Morris’ inspirations and seeing where he and his staff would take us. A excellent date night all-around and that was all that mattered. Thanks to chef Morris and Kabir. Pleasure having you in the neighbourhood.

Cheers!

Le Fantome
1832 William
514 846 1832

Le Fantome Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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