Archive | Ville Marie RSS feed for this section

Cadet

20 May

My wife decided to surprise me this week with a date night. All I knew was that we were going to eat somewhere but she kept it a secret until we headed out. After a short metro ride, we found ourselves in the Quartier des Spectacles district at Cadet, the second restaurant from the group that started the excellent Bouillon Bilk. I had mentioned Cadet to my wife at some point recently – I mention many restaurants throughout our conversations so I didn’t remember exactly when I did so props to her for the wonderful idea.

As mentioned before, Cadet is the second restaurant from the team behind Bouillon Bilk – chef François Nadon and Mélanie Blanchette. They are known for refined and imaginative dishes with great vine choices in a chic and modern minimalistic setting. Cadet fits that description to a T but with more of a sharing plates approach. Cadet has been called a wine bar in some reviews but I don’t think that really gets at what Cadet does. It is more of a “Tapas” bar than a traditional wine bar but regardless – the wine list is extensive and the menu lends to sharing. We were recommended 5-6 dishes between the two of us.

The meal started off with a pair of cod croquette served with a buttermilk and dill dipping sauce. Some of the best we have had in the city – fully packed with tons of cod filling with a great crunch on the exterior. The dipping sauce had a subtle dill flavour and the creamy richness paired well.

The next dish was the kind of ingredient combination that this kitchen is known for and that from the outside, seems odd a bit but man it works so well : Broccoli with späetzle, labneh and pistachios. Great mix of textures and tons of flavour all around. I particularly loved how the labneh and späetzle – two items I had very little experience with – mixed together. A big hit for us.

The next set of dishes stayed along a similar path. First, parnsip served over rösti with sauerkraut, sour cream and juniper berries. The crunchy rösti served as a nice base to pair with the vinegary mixture of parsnip and sauerkraut and the cooling nature of the sour cream. We both really enjoyed this dish.

The next one on paper was super weird: Crab served with pineapple, sour cream, green onions, chips and lettuce. My wife didn’t love it but I really enjoyed it. There was some heat to this dish from somewhere so the use of the pineapple and the sour cream creates a nice contrast on each bite.

The next dish was our disappointment for the night – fingerling potatoes served with chimichurri and mayonnaise. Compared to the rest of the meal, this dish lacked kick in all phases. The potatoes were too big and lacked the crunch you really wanted. The chimichurri didn’t have the acidic bite so the contrast between that and the creamy mayo wasn’t as interested as he had hoped for.

The final dish made up for that slight disappointment. The best of the night: seared blood sausage served over basmati rice, squash, pumpkin seeds and green chili. Such a great usage of blood sausage. So unique and so very flavorful. The richness of the sausage, the crunch of the seeds, the heat from the chili, the calming nature of the rice. Loved every bite of this dish!

Cadet was as hoped for: an excellent setting with great food, great wine and spot-on service all night. My wife did very well with her surprise choice. Now I need to up my game for the next date night! 😉

Cheers!

Cadet
1431 St-Laurent
514 903 1631

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

1909 Taverne Moderne

9 Dec

In Montreal, hockey and the Habs are king. As such, the team continues to find new ways to expand their reach. One of these is through food as the team has opened up a massive sports bar in the Bell Center to cater to the downtown core – 1909 Taverne Moderne. Clearly modelled after Real Sports in Toronto, 1909 is a sports bar restaurant on steroids. It is a huge multi-level restaurant which offers standing room, bar seating and mezzanine banquets all focused around a gigantic screen showing sports – obviously the Canadiens if it was a game night but in this case, college basketball and hockey.

The space is impressive to look at. It is also very loud – the combination of the high ceiling, the mezzanine structure and the loud music playing at the same time means that this isn’t the place for a quiet meal. Clearly you come here because you want a party, you want to watch sports in a group setting or you are coming to the Bell Center for a game or show and want something close by. Looking at the menu in comparison to a typical sports bar, the bar menu is varied with lots of local microbrewery options. The food menu itself also steps away from the usual bar fare with some more up-scale items.

My wife wasn’t too hungry so as a meal, she went with the Teriyaki baby back ribs appetizer. The ribs were pretty good – served amongst like spare ribs, they were fall off the bone tender and pretty flavourful with the sweet Teriyaki glaze.

The positives stop there though. I went with the Chili Con Carne with a side order of fries. First up, they both arrived at the table lukewarm. This brings up the issue of the service. Our waiter was nice but he wasn’t very quick or attentive in general. It took a while for him to come take our order and the food was slow to come as well. It is a very busy space but then more staff should be present or at least they should re-think how they function because our guy was running around like crazy but never really on top of things. It is not acceptable for food to be served not hot. We had a concert to go to so I didn’t make a deal of it but could have been very easily.

The chili itself was bland – it lacked any strong flavour notes. No heat, no sweetness, no nothing. It was filling because we was meat and beans but frankly anyone with their slow cooker could have matched it.

The side of fries was equally uninspiring – the cut was fine but they had no inherent flavour and when you add that they were lukewarm, really not a winner especially for 6$. I got to try some nachos one of our friends ordered and it was a similar story – very average fare. Lots of chips but not a whole lot of cheese or topping for something that costs 13$.

In the end, frankly I can see the interest to go to watch a game in a cool setting but frankly the food (and the subsequent cost of the meal) really doesn’t make this a worthwhile dining experience outside of that. Much like the Habs this year, there is potential but the finished product is no where close yet.

Cheers!

1909 Taverne Moderne
1280 Avenue des Canadiens-de-Montréal
514 416 9809

1909 Taverne Moderne Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kinka Izakaya

14 Nov

When I was asked to find a restaurant for my friend’s bachelor party, I knew exactly the kind of restaurant I wanted to go to: an Izakaya. It has the perfect combination for a fun night with a large group of people: fun ambience; solid food that is easily shareable; good drink options to enjoy with the food and at a good price to boot. For this particular occasion, I decided to bring my friends to a place that I hadn’t visited before in Montreal: Kinka Izakaya. The groom-to-be and myself had been to one of their Toronto restaurants and had a great time (from what I remember anyway….) so I thought it would be appropriate to bring him to the Montreal equivalent to see if the same good time would be had.

Located in Faubourg St-Catherine, Kinka Izakaya is a relatively compact space with much emphasis on wood and stone. The kitchen is open to the room. There is a lot of noise as one would expect on a busy Saturday night. Service was quick and efficient. Much props to their rainbow sake bomb celebration which involves lots of yelling, singing and a big blackboard – a perfect thing for a bachelor’s party 😉

Foodwise, it is the usual mix for an Izakaya – noodles, soups, fried food and some sashimi options. I always go for the classic edamame bowl – nothing out of the ordinary here. Not over-boiled and properly salted. Always a good light option on the menu.

The classic gyu carpaccio – seared beef sashimi served with ponzu, wasabi mayo, garlic chips and scallions – was okay. The meat was tender enough but frankly there was a little too much ponzu at the bottom of the plate so the dish was fruity acidity.

The karubi – grilled miso marinated beef short ribs – was more of a hit. The meat was nicely grilled and very tender. The marinade came through nicely and wasn’t too overbearing.

The Gyoza here were deep fried vegetable dumplings served with a sweet chili mayo. Very flavourful filling and a nice crunch to the exterior. I enjoyed the nice sweet heat that came through in the mayo as well.

One of my personal favorites at an Izakaya is takoyaki – deep fried octopus balls served with tonkatsu sauce and mayo. Kinka does this well – the filling was very flavourful. The natural flavour of octopus comes through nicely and I always love the mixture of the tonkatsu sauce and the mayo.

The karaage – deep fried soy sauce marinated chicken served with garlic mayo – was a little oily but had great crunch and the chicken itself was moist and flavourful – not too salty despite the soy sauce marinade. The garlic mayo had a nice kick to it as well and paired well with the chicken.

One of our group really wanted to order the tontoro so we tried it. A skewer of grilled pork cheek served with yuzu pepper – I enjoyed the tenderness of pork cheeks but frankly this is the one dish that lack strong flavour.

The final dish I tried was ikapiri – deep fried calamari with spicy ketchup and wasabi mayo. Nice taste to the calamari themselves but lacked the crunch you want from fried calamari. The spicy kitchen and wasabi mayo was a very strong combination of sweet, spice and richness. Really loved this dish despite then lack of crunch.

We had fun, eat and drank well – so overall Kinka Izakaya was exactly what I hoped it would be. Izayakas are always a fun time and it’s great to see many good ones opening up around Montreal. So arrive with an empty stomach, open mind and be ready to shout ‘Sake Bomb’ – you won’t be disappointed.

Cheers!

Kinka Izakaya
1624 Sainte-Catherine Ouest
514 750 1624

KINKA IZAKAYA Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tiradito

14 Nov

A few years ago, when I first started to pay attention to the restaurant scene here in Montreal, fusion was the big ‘hip’ trend. The idea of merging multiple types of cuisine into something familiar and yet different. Over the past few years however, we have seen more and more a trend back towards restaurants with a clear essence – French, Italian, ‘Canadian’ but with a focus on fresh local ingredients to sustain that approach. In the end though, every cuisine is a fusion of many – that is the nature of how food evolves between countries and through new cultures immigrating into existing ones. That is what creates more particular fusions – blends of styles that one does not necessarily see as co-existing but do. Tiradito is an example of this.

Located on Bleury St below Rene Levesque, Tiradito is a blend of Peruvian and Japanese cuisine known as Nikkei. Turns out there is a huge Japanese population in Peru which has lead to this blend of using Japanese technique with péruvien ingredients. Chef Marcel Larrea first opened up this restaurant a few years ago to much acclaim – as much for its interesting cuisine as for its unique approach in terms of service. All seating is around a center bar and the service is done by the kitchen staff itself whose individual stations are located in view behind the bar. The service is slightly less personable as a result at times since when your ‘waiter’ ‘s station is busy, they don’t have time to really follow-up with you but otherwise, it is a cool approach as you see the kitchen prepping your food as you dine which I have always enjoyed to see.

Since this is a Peruvian restaurant, Pisco is a strong component to the cocktail menu. if you love a Pisco sour, you will be well served here. Outside of that, there have some fun options. I opted for the El Vato – White rum, chartreuse, pineapple, sesame, scotch and kaffir lime. Nice presentation and balance – the hint of sesame smokiness is a nice touch on top of the sweetness.

The menu is a mix of sharing-sized plates – vegetarian, meat and fish. We grabbed a few different options to try different parts of the menu. First up, the scallop à la chalaca served with red onions, red chilies, hondashi and ginger. Very bright and vibrant – acidity and sweetness to pair with the nice scallops.

Next up, we ordered the spicy calamari served with salsa criolla. The calamari were nice and plump. The batter was crisp and not too thick either so the natural flavour of the calamari came through. The spicy mayo and the onion salsa were nice compliments to add. Honestly one of the better fried calamari dishes I have had in a while.

The Papa Rellena – a ball of potato and beef deep fried and served with a sweet chili sauce – was a completely new discovery for me and one I enjoyed a lot. Nice crunch on the outside, good flavour in the filling and the sauce provided a nice bit of both heat and sweet to the dish.

The yucca fries were a hit as well – good crunch and tender interior. Very flavourful and a good compliment to the rest of the meal.

Lastly, I love duck so I had to try the duck anticucho – duck marinated in aji panka, cumin and roasted paprika and roasted on skewers. Sadly this was the dish that impressed the least. The duck itself was cooked nicely – very tender but compared to the rest of the dishes, this one lacked punch.

Tiradito was an experience we really enjoyed. The food was great – very flavourful and fresh – with a nice decor, fun vibe and good music all around. I can definitely see why the reviews have been so positive since its opening. I may not have known about Nikkei Cuisine prior to this experience but I definitely know I am a fan now.

Cheers!

Tiradito
1076 Bleury
514 866 6776

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

Jatoba

20 Mar

When one talks about dining in Montreal, we rarely talk about the downtown core as a big part of that. We talk a lot about Mile End, Old Montreal, Little Italy, Notre-Dame Street in the Sud Ouest…. but downtown isn’t as hyped. Part of it may be perception, part of it may be people not wanting to head downtown proper. Either way, there are definitely places worth checking out that are more than simply overpriced fare for the business crowd. One of these is Jatoba. Located in Phillips Square, Jatoba is a project headed by chef Olivier Vigneault, previously a sous-chef for Antonio Park (also a partner in this venture). For the event of my sister’s birthday, there was a request to come check in this place out as a family outing.

The space, conceived by La Chambre Design, is a beautiful combination of the old brownstone structure with some more modern touches. I love how they incorporate the brick facades all around the different rooms and make them focal points. The lighting is ample but slightly dimmed to create a nice intimate feel. Lots of wood warms up the space and the kitchen is exposed in the big backroom. The other big element is the use of tons of plant life to incorporate some nature into the space. The whole of the restaurant feels very warm and cozy. A perfect vibe for a relaxed evening dinner.

Jatoba has a pretty good cocktail menu and wine list. I started with a Lavender May – Lot 40, lavender and calico syrup, fresh lime juice, egg white, rhubarb bitters. I love egg white cocktails so this was an easy sell for me. Not too floral with a nice touch of both sweet and sour. The frothy texture of the egg white added some body to it as well. As for the wine, for the purpose of full disclosure, I know the sommelier of Jatoba – an old high school friend – so with his advice, we were treated to a lovely French Patrimonio that we had never heard of. Just the fact he got my parents to like a French wine is worth very high praise. Thanks Marc-Andre!

Food-wise, given the pedigree of the chef, you can imagine that the menu is Asian-inspired fusion fare. As a group of 5, we were able to share numerous items. First up, I can never say no to a bowl of edamame with yusuf powder, nanami togarashi and fleur de sel. Always love that salty kick.

We also tried the Brussel sprout chips with spices. Very thinly sliced and fried up, I personally loved the slightly bitter notes from the sprouts and the crunch that came from frying them.

Next up, we went for some dumplings. We tried three varieties – the Gyoza (pork, shrimp, chinese chives, spicy samba oelek soy and chinese vinegar), the Tori (chicken, napa cabbage, braised shiitakes, leek and sonomono sauce) and the Ha Gao (shrimp, green onion and red wine tobiko). All excellent – very flavourful with the subtle hints of the extra ingredients above the primary proteins. Kind of made me crave some true Dim Sum at that point….

My girlfriend and I felt like a soup so we shared the lemongrass soup – lemongrass and coconut cream, shrimp, lobster, tomatoes, thai basil, green onions and bamboo. A lovely well balanced soup. The lemongrass was strong but the sweetness of the coconut cream softened it slightly and created a super silky texture. The addition of shrimp and lobster gave it some more heft and the tomatoes brought some freshness and tanginess. One of the best soups I’ve had in a while.

As a rice dish, we went with the fried rice with duck confit which included an egg, vegetable medley, yukon gold chips, green onions, micro coriander and enoki mushrooms. Very generous portion of rice and lovely flavours all around. The rice had the crunch of a fried rice with some earthy notes. The addition of the duck confit provided a nice rich and fatty contrast to the rest of the rice dish.

Next up was sushi time. We went with The Roll – atlantic salmon, spicy hamachi, avocado, cucumber, tempura flakes, sweet soy and yusuf yogourt. A more upscale version of a classic “Kamikaze” roll and excellent all around. Key differentiation was the use of less of the binding elements like the tempura and more emphasis of the freshness of the salmon. The fish was beautiful and came through clearly within the roll. No hiding of the fish here. The tempura brought a touch of crunch and I liked the touch of sweet creaminess coming from the yogourt.

The final savoury dish we tried was the 1855 Beef Tataki seared with sesame oil, mini green beans with cider vinegar, dwarf truffle peaches, black quinoa soufflé and sonomono sauce. Beautiful elegant dish – the beef was sliced beautifully thin and super tender. The addition elements simply play to augment the natural flavours of the beef.

For dessert, we got the Chocolate Bomb and the Japanese cheesecake. The bomb – a combination of black and white triple chocolate brownie with hazelnut praline, dark chocolate and hazelnut truffle, dark chocolate mousse, marbled chocolate sphere and milk chocolate sauce – was a chocolate overload in all the best ways possible. I loved the different uses of texture and flavours within all the chocolate. The cheesecake served with maple spongy candy and black sesame ice cream was excellent texture-wise. Nice and creamy. The black sesame ice cream was not my thing but a cool pairing to the inherent richness and creaminess of the cake.

Jatoba was a lovely night out – wonderful drinks, awesome service and good food. Worked out perfectly as a celebration for my sister’s birthday so when you are thinking about dining out in Montreal, don’t forgot about the business district of our city, it is equally worth of your attention for a good night out!

Cheers!

Jatoba
1184 Place Phillips
514 871 1184

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

Cafe Parvis

25 Oct

Working in the suburbs and the general nature of my actual profession limits my opportunities for a nice weekday lunch downtown. So many great options to enjoy if you have the chance. Last month, I had a random Friday off to enjoy downtown. Perfect chance to go out to lunch with my mother who works in town and have a nice lunch. Given the location of her work, I figured that Cafe Parvis would be worthwhile to try.

img_2856

img_2857

Located on Mayor street, just a quick walk over from Place des Spectacles, Cafe Parvis is from the same people who run Bar Furco just next door. Similar to its sister, Cafe Parvis certainly has a look to it. An interesting mixture of exposed concrete, brick and wood creates a very lived-in feel. The use of vines and plants all over the interior plus the huge windows create a warmth and relaxed atmosphere. Too bad it was a little too cool to enjoy the terrasse in the front.

img_2862

img_2863

img_2864

img_2865

Foodwise, Cafe Parvis is all about pizza and salads. My mother went for one of the salad. Beets, pears, arugula, noix de grenoble, goat cheese and a tarragon dressing. A very hearty portion – tons of ingredients and very flavourful. Nice mixture with the beets, the sweet pears, the rich goat cheese and that awesome tarragon dressing. My mother had just the salad and was quite full.

img_2858

The pizzas are served by the slice. Similar approach as the salad – tons of ingredients and high on flavour. The key thing though is that crust. If that doesn’t hold up, it doesn’t matter. Thankfully, the crust here was on point. Closer to the “Al Taglio” style, the crust was thick with a nice crunch but still chewy. First up, I had the lamb, feta and tzatziki pizza. Great flavour to the lamb and with a big dollop of tzatziki right on top. Excellent.

img_2861

Next was ricotta with spinach and roasted peppers. Great mixture of creamy rich ricotta and sweet peppers. Served almost as a sandwich means you get double the crunch compared to the other slices.

img_2859

The final pizza I tried was the duck confit with potatoes, cheddar, garlic oil and rosemary. Very flavourful once again. Loved the fatty duck and how it mixed with the potato and the cheese. However, with the amount of potato on the pizza, it made the pizza much dryer since there is no sauce to speak of. I would have needed more cheese to offset.

img_2860

Thankfully we got there just before noon because there was a lineup by the time we left. I understand why – excellent pizza, flavourful salads and a beautiful space to sit in as people seek a break from their workdays. Cafe Parvis certainly lived up to my hopes and made a beautiful Friday off that much more enjoyable. Anyone working nearby should certainly give it a look.

Cheers!

Cafe Parvis
433 Mayor
514 764 3589

Cafe Parvis Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Il Focolaio

31 May

Pizza is a deeply personal thing. While most of us can tell what is a good pizza and what is a bad pizza, it is the differentiation between good pizzas where people argue. Details like the tang of the tomato sauce, the amount of each ingredient present, thin crust vs. thick crust…. all of these lead to many discussions about which pizza is “best”. Here in Montreal, we are spoiled with many great options. Personally, I am a huge fan of thin crust pizza and a certain place in Little Italy right now that I won’t mention here to avoid direct comparison through this post. I took my girlfriend there and while she enjoyed it, she told me that she preferred her personal spot. And thus, we had no choice but to go to Il Focolaio right by Phillips Square to see how it would rank for me.

Open since 1984, Il Focolaio does thin crust pizza in a maple wood burning oven. The crazy part about their menu is that they have 75 different pizzas! That is an insane number and frankly one that made me a little scared…. when a menu gets that big, I wonder how many can be truly great. I still kept an open mind and plus it was a beautiful night so we sat on the terrasse with a beer ready to enjoy some pizzas.

Given we had a friend with us on this Friday night, we tried three pizzas. First up was La Milanese – tomato sauce, artichoke hearts, capicollo, mushrooms, black olives and mozzarella. A nice crispy crust on the underside – the pizza held up to grabbing with one hand. On the flip side, I found the top of the crust to be a little burnt in spots and a little too flaky to my liking. In an ideal world, I want crunch but still chewy once I bit in. All three pizzas were the same so they are consistent with the cooking in the oven. In this instance, I suppose it is more a matter of personal taste. Each pizza is about 12 inches so a solid size as a personal pizza. Plenty of ingredients as well which cover the entirety of the pizza. This particular mix of ingredients wasn’t my favourite – I liked the fatty capicollo and the mozzarella but I’ve never found artichokes and mushrooms very enjoyable on a pizza especially if they are rough cut as they were. I also hate olives – I guess you can tell by now this wasn’t my choice – which didn’t help.

Our second pizza was the Spinarto – Tomato sauce, spinach, garlic, artichokes, mozzarella and olives. This one – again not my choice… darn olives! – was more enjoyable to me. The garlic and spinach worked well and somehow helped to make the artichokes less noticeable to me.

Finally we get to my choice, the Renaissance – Tomato sauce, spinach, garlic, olives, mozzarella and spicy pancetta… without the olives of course! The extra kick of the pancetta gave this pizza more bite compared to the more vegetarian pizzas we had before. Also the cheese was a little bit more golden on the top than the previous ones which provided a little different flavour and texture. Pretty enjoyable to me.

Lastly, while Il Focolaio doesn’t have many things on the menu other than pizzas, they do have Sicilian cannolis which I can never say no to! Solid crunchy shell with a nice creamy filling, these were a solid way to finish off the meal.

In the end, I enjoyed Il Focolaio but its pizza didn’t blow me away. It’s definitely the best one in the downtown core I’ve tried so but left me firmly believing in my own personal favourite at the moment. My girlfriend didn’t succeed in swaying me which means that pizza will remain a point of contention between the two of us. Guess we will just have to alternate between spots for a while if we want harmony to remain!

Cheers!

El Focolaio
1223 Phillips Square
514 879 1045

Il Focolaio Pizza Resto on Urbanspoon

%d bloggers like this: