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Beba

21 Aug

While I call Pointe-St-Charles home, I am lucky enough to be close by from Verdun and the booming restaurant scene that is developing along Wellington street. As that neighbourhood has changed and developed, we have seen more and more interesting restaurants establish roots in the area that have some great pedigrees. Most recently, we have the case of Beba, a restaurant on Ethel – just off Wellington – that was started by the Schor brothers, Pablo and Chef Ari, who have some great bonafides including the fact that Chef Ari was Chef de Cuisine at Liverpool House prior to opening this restaurant. With a pedigree like this, I couldn’t wait to walk over and see what they had in store for us so I called my sister who lives in Verdun and she joined my wife and I for a nice evening dinner.

Beba has the look of a real neighbourhood bistro. The interior is very clean with simple modern touches such as the marble countertop bar, the circular mirrors along the wall and leather mid-century style banquettes. There is also a garage door on the side which allows to really open up the space in the summer. They also have a nice little terrasse in the front which faces Ethel street which makes it very calm and relaxing as a spot. The weather was so beautiful that night that we got a chance to sit outside for our meal – perfect conditions to enjoy a hopefully great meal.

Beba advertises itself as serving ‘food and drink inspired by the Spanish and Italian cultures that settled in Argentina’ which is an interesting premise and a big difference from the Liverpool House fare that people know chef Schor for but one that reflect he and his brother’s Argentinian heritage. The three of us decided to share a bunch of different items from the menu. The menu is apparently adjusted frequently so it is subject to change.

First up, we had the beef and olive empanada. A classic Argentine item – a nice flaky crunch to the pastry shell and the interior filing was quite flavourful. More beer in flavour than olive which I appreciated immensely.

Next was the Swiss chard involtini with zucchini, pine nuts and yogourt. An interesting presentation and usage of Swiss chard. Very flavourful dish – I enjoyed the freshness of the veggies and how that paired with the creaminess of the yogourt.

Our final starter was the green salad served with egg, summer vegetables and grana padano. A very simple dish in presentation but a perfect usage of the seasonable veggies available,. This was a beautifully fresh salad with a nice balance of acidity, sweetness and some richness. I rarely order a green salad at a restaurant but this one was well worth it.

We moved to the ‘bigger’ dishes of the night and started the gnudi with tomato butter and pecorino. This was the biggest hit of the night. The gnudi were light and fluffy in texture with a lovely creamy rich flavour. The tomato butter was insane – so smooth and rich of flavour. The pecorino provided some bite to the dish. We lapped this up and I would go back to Beba just for this dish.

Next was the eggplant served with a lamb ragu and peas. I really enjoyed this dish – the star is the hearty lamb ragu which had tons of that gamey richness that I love about lamb. The eggplant was good but somewhat hidden by the strong notes of the ragu. The peas provided some crispness and the little sauce a little acidity and brightness to the plate. A solid dish all around.

Our final dish was the rabbit ‘pan con tomate’ served with an aioli and a mussel escabeche. I loved the different usage of the classic spanish ‘pan con tomate’ dish to serve the rabbit. The garlicky aioli with the tomatoes, the mussels and the rabbit paired very nicely together. The rabbit itself was excellent – the one complaint is more of the presentation one. By having the rabbit pieces still on the bones, it made it more of the hassle to enjoy the rabbit with the tomato bread itself which meant that the dish was eaten more in two parts then all together. The flavours were excellent outside of that minor complaint.

All in all, Beba was an excellent experience from beginning to end and is a welcomed neighbourhood spot close to home. The dishes were delicious. The service was sharp and friendly; and the atmosphere was a perfect combination of hip energy with a relaxed neighbourhood haunt vibe. Chef Schor and his brother have a really interesting thing going very quickly. I look forward to more walks over for some good meals and hope you shall all join me.

Cheers!

Beba
3900 Éthel
514 750 7087

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Les Street Monkeys

6 Jul

We have reached July which means we have reached time to celebrate my birthday. As I have gotten older, I have gone away from a party to celebrate. I prefer just a nice dinner with friends either home or at the restaurant. The challenge, as always, is to find somewhere that works for a group – where we can easily share and where the cost to my friends is reasonable. I hate forcing my friends to splurge at my expense. Well, for this year, I decided to stay close to home in Verdun to try our hand at some Cambodian cuisine at Les Street Monkeys.

The menu is described as Cambodian-style street food. The portions are small and designed to share. The menu is mostly Cambodian but they do venture in cuisine from other south-east Asian countries. As a party of 5, we decided to grab a bunch of stuff to try. First up, we ordered their pork and taro fried imperial rolls. Solid rolls – a nice crunch on the outside. Inside, the filling was plentiful and very flavourful.

Next, we had the shrimp ceviche marinated in a lime, fish sauce and wasabi dressing. The waiter warned us the dish was quite strong in wasabi and wow was it ever! It hits you right in the nose once you take your first bite. If you can handle the heat, the dish is excellent. The shrimp is very tender and the addition of the radishes and the scallions provided some lightness and crunch.

We couldn’t say no to a traditional papaya salad but sadly it wasn’t a big hit. Texture was nice and had tons of sweetness and acidity but it lacked some punch in terms of the heat. Most of us agreed that Satay Brothers’ version is better.

Our next dish faired better. The Khmer style fried chicken drums – fried chicken with a shrimp paste, kaffir lime leaf, lemongrass and garlic sauce – were excellent. Great crunch but the chicken remained moist and tender inside. The sauce stuck nicely on the drumsticks and provided a nice garlicky punch.

The positives continued with the eggplant salad – grilled eggplant tossed with a dressing made of lime, fish sauce, rice powder, dried chili, mint, Thai basil and cilantro. The eggplant was nice and soft and the dressing was super flavourful – packing a punch both umami and sweet. Everyone really enjoyed this one.

The Mee Siam – fried rice vermicelli with a soya and crab paste sauce mixed with red peppers, chives, onions and bean sprouts – was solid and a nice compliment side dish to the rest. The fried rice had a nice little crunch to it that you want.

I am a big fan of bone marrow so when I saw the Phnom Penh bone marrow dish, I had to order it. Bone marrow with butter, hoisin sauce, kampot pepper, fried garlic, marinated onion and coriander leaves served with bone broth and vanilla Chinese fried bread. Nice flavour again to the dish – a good balance of sweetness and heat. The vanilla bread was surprising as well for now well it fit with the bone marrow. The only negative was the lack of much marrow on the bones – would have loved to see more there portion wise.

The biggest hit of the night was the Amok fish – lightly breaded cod with a red curry sauce with coconut milk, red peppers and fried taro strings. The fish was super flaky and tender and that sauce was excellent. Tons of flavour to pair with the fish. The dish lasted all of a few minutes on the table.

Our final plate was the stuffed chicken wings – boneless wings stuffed with thai sausage and brushed with turmeric, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass sauce. The sausage stuffing had some heat and stayed tender within the chicken wing. The lemongrass sauce brought some acidity which paired well here. Excellent dish.

Les Street Monkeys was the perfect spot for a group dinner. Everything was easy to share, very flavourful across the board and very reasonably priced. Food-wise, it cost us about 35$ each to cover everything we ate. That is a great deal for the quality of food we got. Cambodian-style cuisine is not something that is present readily in Montreal but I am happy we got to try it and that it is so close to my place if a craving ever hits!

Cheers!

Les Street Monkeys
3625 Rue Wellington
514 768 1818

Les Street Monkeys Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

JoBlo

10 Mar

I don’t know about every restaurant in the city. I know that statement shouldn’t be a surprise but sometimes people get the impression that I know every possible restaurant in Montreal. And yes, while I do know my fair share, even I can get surprised by a place I’ve never heard of before. This is one of those moments. For the event of the birthday of a friend of my girlfriend’s, I was invited for dinner to a place on Wellington in Verdun that I had driven by numerous times before but never noticed… JoBlo.





Such a unique vibe to this place. Strong burlesque 1920s-1930s speakeasy feel to the room but with a twist. Nat King Cole playing in the background. Big leather seats, old portraits and posters framed up but then you add the machine gun lamps, the staff all dressed in French mime attire (without the makeup) and a huge wooden horse right by the entrance. It’s weird, it’s strange but it worked for me. When the restaurant’s private group room is called the Betty Boo room and has huge pop art Betty Boo on the walls, you know this place had a unique style.











Drink wise, I enjoyed the scope of their cocktail menu. I got to try their gin fizz and the mojito. The gin fizz was a little too lemony for me. The foamy texture was perfect though. The mojito was solid – exactly what I would have expected from a proper mojito.





JoBlo calls itself a steakhouse and while yes they do have steak on the menu, the food is much more comfort food oriented. The menu is much more centered around burgers, mac n’ cheese and Sloppy Joes. As a starter, my girlfriend and I shared le “Squiggly Diddly” – home made fried calamari with tomato sauce. Portion wise very generous and pretty tasty to boot. The calamari had a nice crisp to them while still being the right level of tenderness. Tomato sauce was okay but truthfully not memorable.



As a main course, my girlfriend went with the “Sloppy JoBlo” – their version of the Sloppy Joe with home fries. Served on a toasted pun, it was absolutely uneatable as an actual burger which I suppose is what a sloppy joe should be – sloppy and saucy. The meat filling was pretty good – strong tomato sauce flavour with some tang. A very generous portion of fries to go with it – the style of fries which one would get at a true pataterie which I love so that worked for me.



On my end, I went with the “Gros Porc” because I am a glutton and couldn’t help it…. mac n’cheese, onions and bacon on a pork patty. Yeah that’s right… mac n’ cheese in the burger. Completely ridiculous I know and almost impossible to eat as a burger but I still succeeded in grabbing it as a burger. Loved the pork, the smokiness and crispness of the bacon, the sweet onions but let’s be honest… this thing is all about the mac n’cheese. Loved the creaminess of the macaron but felt like it lacked some sharpness. A different cheese blend would have probably helped to create a more distinct flavour. The noodles were also a bit too big for use in a burger but that’s really nitpicking. Another large portion of fries was provided as well. I liked this burger but didn’t love it like I had hoped.



JoBlo was an interesting experience given I had absolutely no expectations going in. Loved the portion sizes and the general ideas behind the menu. I had a few small issues over the course of the night such that while I enjoyed the food, I didn’t love it completely. Definitely worth another look… if only for the great look and vibe of the joint.

Cheers!

JoBlo Steakhouse
3807 Wellington
514 508 9178

JoBlo on Urbanspoon

Blackstrap BBQ

7 Oct

I am a big fan of BBQ. Pretty much everyone who knows me will agree with that. Southern style BBQ is not something we are known for here in Montreal but that is starting to evolve. We have recently been spoiled with the additions of Dinette Triple Crown and Diablos BBQ to the local scene. There is now a new contender for the crown which, given they won the Quebec BBQ competition this past summer, may be a mute point.

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Blackstrap BBQ just opened this past week in Verdun amongst much fanfare in the local food scene. Started up by the former owners of Grifintown Cafe, they are focused on Memphis style BBQ and based on all the pictures and quick reviews I was seeing online, I knew I couldn’t wait long before going to try it out and my god was it worth it….

I went for a fairly ridiculous amount of food mostly because there was so much I wanted to try and couldn’t decide. First off, I went for a pulled pork sandwich, some brisket and the most tempted side they had, fried Mac ‘n cheese balls. Yeah…. you read that right. Fried Mac ‘n cheese balls. There was nothing on this plate that wasn’t amazing. The pulled pork and brisket had great natural smoky flavor and that was before you added your choice of sweet or spicy BBQ sauce. The fried balls were outstanding. Soft and melty interior with a great crispy exterior. I could a bunch of those as a meal.

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I would have been satisfied with that alone but the special item written on the wall got my attention : burnt ends poutine. Oh baby…. that poutine. Words do not properly describe how great this was. The burnt ends on their own were perfect but you add to that a very good poutine especially the gravy which clearly wasn’t an afterthought and you have a amazing dish which made the experience that much better.

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Verdun may be a little out of the way for some of you but I cannot recommend you check this place out more. As soon as I left, I waited to come back the next day. A sign of the quality and the word of mouth for this restaurant: they ran out of all their meats about an hour after we arrived…. almost 2 hours before their closing time. This was a great experience and one you shouldn’t miss out on.

Cheers!

Blackstrap BBQ
4436 Wellington
514 507 6772

Blackstrap BBQ on Urbanspoon

 

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