Nashville 2019 – Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint

25 Jun

Earlier this month, I spent an amazing 5 days in Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee for a boys trip. And of course, I had to find some great options for food. First up, we needed some BBQ so I looked up the best BBQ joints in Nashville and thus we found ourselves at Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint where they do whole hog BBQ West Tennessee style – smoked starting the day before, not sauced pre-serving and served with a vinegar-based sauce.

There are multiple locations across Nashville and even further in Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky and South Carolina. We went to the downtown location located a few blocks south of Broadway St. The space is an old warehouse and has a very cool beer garden vibe to it including a beautiful 2nd floor outdoor seating, bar and stage area. The ordering process is pretty simple – you get in-line, order at the counter and then find a seat. The servers will find you using a number card.

Being three guys, we decided to cover as many options as we could within reason. We decided on plates of baby back ribs, pulled pork shoulder and sliced beef brisket. Each meat plate came with 2 sides of your choice. We made a slight mistake and ordered the same side twice but otherwise we covered most of the side options through our choices.

Our first plate was the ribs served with baked beans and french fries. The ribs were absolutely delicious – very tender, awesome smoke ring to them and covered in a smoky sweet BBQ sauce. The fries were solid with a good crunch to them but still tender and nicely seasoned from the beginning. The baked beans were a huge hit with a deep rich smoky flavour. Honestly some of the best I have ever had in a restaurant.

Our second plate was the pulled pork shoulder with an cornbread hoecake and the mac n’ cheese. The pulled pork looks dry in the picture but that is because there is no sauce to them. Believe me though, the pork was super tender. The vinegar sauce added a nice kick and brightness to the pork without overpowering the inherent flavour of the pork. The hoecake is essentially a cornmeal pancake which was fine but nothing special honestly. The mac n’cheese was not as gooey as I would have liked but the flavour was nice regardless.

The final plate saw us try the sliced beef brisket with some vinegar slaw. The slaw was fine overall but the real star here was the brisket – by far the best thing we had in this meal. Super amazing smoke ring on the beef, great deep flavour and super tender texture to the beef. Simply amazing.

This was our first meal in Nashville and oh man was it a great start. Super amazing Tennessee BBQ all around. If ever you are in Nashville, you should definitely head to Martin’s.

Cheers!

Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint
Various Locations
Nashville, TN

Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

Épicerie Pumpui

15 May

One wouldn’t exactly expect to head up to Little Italy for some good Thai food but that is exactly where I found myself over the last few weekends – being drawn to St-Zotique street by the call of curry and chicken wings. Épicerie Pumpui is a ‘lan khao gangs’ – a combination curry shop and grocery store that is common in Thailand but mostly nonexistent in North America and certainly here in Montreal. Chef Jesse Mulder – who had run Thai delivery service Chak Wow prior to opening this brick and mortar spot – and his partners opened up Pumpui a little less than 2 years ago.

The space is very casual in style – with about 12 seats in-house and ordering at the counter. The small grocery section sells a variety of Thai ingredients and items. The menu is relatively small – 5 ready to serve options and then another 5 or 6 a la carte items. The menu consists mostly of curries and more obscure dishes for a North American audience as well as a few other ‘classic’ dishes like Pad Thai and green curry.

First off, I went with the fried chicken wings with sweet chili sauce. Pumpui has developed a reputation for these and yeah I can see why. These were amazing – super crunchy skin, very tender inside and a nice sweet heat coating them. I just needed more!

After the wings, I decided to try the Curry Hunglay – a Burmese pork belly, shallot and ginger curry. Had never heard of this dish until I saw it on the menu and enjoyed it tremendously. Very generous portion overall. The curry was mildly spiced which suited my relatively weak spice palette. A nice combination of richness, sweetness and spice. The pork belly was super tender as were the shallots which was a different way for me to enjoy them. An excellent discovery for me.

On my second visit, I started with a Hibiscus mint iced tea which was very bright and refreshing.

I then decided on the Asii Pian – a dry curry of chicken, thai eggplant, tomatoes, lemongrass and galangal from the Shan region. I had never heard of galangal which is more citrus and piney version of ginger. Very different flavour which came through strongly with the sharp lemongrass notes. Again, like the previous curry, tons of flavour and a very hardy portion. Another hit for me.

Given how the majority of true Thai restaurant in the city are more formal affairs, it is great to have such a great Thai counter service to get great flavourful and more unique curry for a quick lunch, takeout or dinner. I know it seems weird to head to Little Italy for Thai cuisine but believe me, it is well worth it.

Cheers!

Épicerie Pumpui
83 Rue Saint-Zotique E
514 379 3024

Épicerie Pumpui Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

L’Affaire est Ketchup

1 Apr

Finding myself heading to Quebec City for a weekend course, my wife and I decided to make it a weekend trip. I learn, she skis and then we enjoy old Quebec which I hadn’t visited for…. 15 years!? Yeah I was overdue. As I was thinking about where I would like to go for a nice meal in the city, I thought back to an old Parts Unknown episode where Anthony Bourdain was in Quebec and visited L’Affaire est Ketchup – a unique restaurant that seemed to be doing very cool stuff. I always kept it on my list after that so this seemed like a good opportunity to finally try them out.

L’Affaire est Ketchup bills themselves as a “Pirate Restaurant” and that is really the unique thing about it. The space looks like an old apartment – you can only fit about 25 people in the space and the kitchen is really just the old kitchen tucked in the back of the apartment open for all to see. The chairs and tables are simple and worn out. The decor is not very consistent or fancy. The coat rack is in the stairwell to the “cellar” downstairs. The red wine “wine list” is the cabinet by the old fireplace with all bottles laid out for you to see. All of their cooking is using an old electric stove and oven! No fancy high end equipment here and that’s the thing to think about when you see the dishes – how they create very high end comfort fare using the most basic of space. It’s pretty cool.

The menu is small – 7 options for both appetizers and mains – and it is ever-changing although some items are apparently pretty consistent. First up, I went with the veal sweetbreads – poached in white vermouth and cream, seared and served with a sauce reduced from the poaching liquid. I love a good sweetbread and this is a great sweetbread. Great crisp on the outside but with keeping the tender richness within. A cream sauce is of course a great pairing with this level of fattiness. The vermouth comes through for a slight kick. Excellent starter.

My wife went with the cobia salad. Cobia is a white flaky fish which was poached in olive oil and served over a kimchi-like preparation of fresh and fermented green cabbage and with a avocado dressing. We had never had cobia before – very nice fresh flavour. I enjoyed the kimchi-like cabbage – it had some nice heat to it although my wife found it to finish a little too salty for her liking.

As a main, I went with the seared bison served over mashed potatoes, a mushroom cream sauce and some veggies. The bison was cooked perfectly medium rare with a great sear to it. Very flavourful and the sauce had a nice earthy richness to it. The mash and the roasted vegetables were excellent as well.

My wife went with the seared scallops served with pork belly, a parsnip purée and veggies. The scallops were beautiful – very tender and flavourful. The sear was excellent. The pairing of that with the fatty pork belly worked very well. The parsnip brought some extra creaminess and earthiness as well. Very enjoyable all around.

Finally for dessert, we decided to share the chocolate brownie served with whipped cream. Simple but well executed. Strong chocolate flavour with a nice texture to the brownie. Good finish to a solid meal.

L’Affaire est Ketchup is an unique and excellent experience in Quebec City. It is amazing the quality of food they can create out of such a small and basic kitchen. The service was excellent throughout the night making for a fun evening all around. Anthony Bourdain definitely didn’t steer us wrong. Now I need to make sure I don’t wait 15 years to visit the city again….

Cheers!

L’Affaire est Ketchup
46 Rue Saint-Joseph Est
Québec City, Canada
418 529 9020

L'Affaire est Ketchup Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

La Cabane d’a Coté

27 Mar

March means sugar shack season here in Quebec. So for the last few years, that has meant going to La Cabane au Pied de Cochon, Martin Picard’s spectacularly glorious shack up in Mirabel. It’s not traditional but frankly I want a great meal at a sugar shack which isn’t as easy to find anymore so I go a little on the crazy side. However, this year, for the occasion of my wife’s birthday, I decided to forgo that particular experience for its cousin, La Cabane d’à Coté. Located on the property just next door to Cabane PDC that they purchased last year, Cabane d’à Coté is a smaller, more intimate setting (about 40 seats) run by Vincent Dion Lavallée, Martin’s partner and formerly the head chef at the Cabane PDC.

La Cabane d’à Coté took over the old sugar shack on the property and uses the old evaporator as the cooking apparatus – heating with wood and using the flattops on top of the old evaporator to cook off of. It is a unique idea for a restaurant and creates a cool scene when you enter the restaurant as the kitchen is front and center. Other than one table, the rest of the common seating is situated in the rooms just off from the center kitchen space with views of either the maple forest on one side or the apple orchard on the other. It is a beautifully simple restaurant space which evokes a classic style (especially with the use of old style dishes and cutlery) but with some twists. Even though the space is 40 people tops, it goes get a little nozy but not so much that you can’t enjoy the eclectic mix of music through the evening – think 90s pop with classic quebecois.

Compared to the Cabane PDC, La Cabane d’à Coté’s menu is a table champetre which changes more frequently that the twice a year of the other shack. The restaurant is also open year round and doesn’t require the same reservation time – although it can still take some time to get a table. The menu is a 5 course fixed menu which they say is all you can eat but frankly we were so stuffed just with the portions they served us that I can’t imagine anyone asking for more!

The first course was composed of two dishes. First, a split pea soup with maple glazed duck meatballs, sour cream and cheddar cheese. Excellent soup that really evoked the classic hardy soup that I love but the addition of the maple glazed duck meatballs really gave it some more richness and a touch of sweetness that I enjoyed.

Paired with that was homemade raisin cinnamon bread grilled on the flattop served in a maple reduction and topped with foie gras, maple sugar and creme fraiche. An insane level of richness and sweetness that was glorious. To our pleasant surprise, the charred toasted notes that comes from grilling over the wood really came through. Quite a start of our meal.

The second course was a more subtle affair. Of the four dishes we got for this course, there were two big hits. First was the raw scallops served with fermented cabbage and cream sauce. The scallops were sliced thinly and beautiful. The acidity of the fermented cabbage paired very nicely as well.

The other big hit was the thinly sliced white ham served with bacon and bacon over a base of apple butter. Coming from the hams the group raises on the property, the ham was so good. Beautiful texture and great flavour. The apple butter underneath was a rich and sweet treasure as well.

We also got mini buckwheat pancakes served with maple syrup and a salad of endives prepared in escabeche served with fresh sheep’s milk cheese. The pancakes were enjoyable but compared to the other dishes weren’t as special. I enjoyed the salad although my wife found the endives still too bitter for her liking.

At this point, we were already starting to feel full but we weren’t even halfway there! The next course brought two dishes. First, a sort of celeriac omelette served with smoked trout. A solid dish – the big standout was the chunk of smoked trout. Beautiful texture and flavour.

The other dish was a duck tartare of mushrooms, beets and crispy duck skin served over a Jerusalem artichoke puree. A really different tartare that I really enjoyed. I liked the use of the skin to add some different texture to the tartare. My wife doesn’t love duck so this was the dish we split opinion over the most over the course of the evening.

The fourth course was an all-meat affair. First was maple glazed grilled pork from the Cabane served with a cherry sauce. Simple but very well done. The quality of their pork in terms of flavour and texture comes through and the sweetness of both the maple and the cherries paired perfectly.

The second dish wasn’t as successful sadly – quail stuffed with duck meat served in a minestrone soup. The quail meat was excellent. The issue for both of us was the soup which clearly got an extra kick of vinegar but so much so that all we got flavour wise was vinegar. The big disappointment for us on the night.

The last dish of this course made up for it however – rabbit and chicken pot pie served with maple carrots. My favorite of the night. Beautiful presentation and great depth of flavour to boot. A great flaky crust, lots of meat and a beautifully rich but not heavy sauce to pair all of it together. Chicken pot pie is one of my childhood favorites so this dish evokes much love for me.

Finally….. we get to dessert! Some how we found a way to eat all 5 desserts they brought us 😉 The ricotta doughnuts served with maple dulce de leche were solid and enjoyable. The praline and sunflower seed ice cream was a very pleasant surprise that we both loved. The Baba served with haskap berries (camerise in French) and cranberries syrup topped with maple pastry cream and whipped cream was the most visually appealing of the group. Flavour-wise, the cake was a little heavy but the fruit syrup and the maple elements paired beautifully together with it. The most unique dessert was the frozen apple poached in maple syrup served with fresh cream. The apple’s texture was very unique in this preparation and of course, apples and maple pair so well together.

And lastly, as this is a sugar shack after all, we got some fresh maple taffy which was served to us through a hidden compartment in the table which allows them to bring snow into the restaurant to pour the maple syrup over. Very cool element and of course the perfect end to a sugar shack meal.

La Cabane d’à Coté continues the excellent tradition of the Cabane PDC and turns it into a more intimate, less bombastic experience. There is still excess – it’s a Martin Picard venture after all – but chef Vincent finds a way to make it slightly more refined and subtle. I would love to come back in the summer time to see what Vincent would do with all the fresh produce they produce on the property without the sugar shack trappings. This was a wonderful night and definitely worth visiting again.

Cheers!

La Cabane d’à Côté
3595 Montée Robillard

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

Le Club Chasse et Pêche

16 Feb

Despite my best efforts, there are still numerous Montreal staples that I have yet to try. Be it for lack of occasion or honestly just forgetting about them, some restaurants have been continuously on my to-try list for years and years. Le Club Chasse et Pêche has been one such place. The old Montreal staple run by Claude Pelletier, long lauded for the quality of their work since 2004, has weirdly never been one that I would think about when looking for a high end restaurant for an occasion. Well, thankfully that was fixed for me as a friend of mine decided to have his birthday dinner take place there so I finally got to see if all the praise was justified.

Located very unassumingly on a side street in the Old Montreal, Le Club Chasse et Pêche has a somewhat weird visual motif to me. Given the age of the building, they highlight some of its classic features – beautiful old stone walls and archways – in the periphery but the rest of the space is a mix of more modern touches – dark printed pattern wallpaper on the ceiling, black accent walls with a flat concrete-like finish, modernistic artwork, curved plastered walls which orient and separate the room in ways to make things feel more intimate but also weirdly disorienting. It works with the low lighting to create a very intimate ambience perfect for the type of special occasions that bring you to a place like this but personally not the type of style I enjoy.

The menu is not big but frankly everything on the page sounded amazing. As a starter, I went with the crispy veal sweetbread served with a soubise sauce, comté, mustard and hazelnuts. I love sweetbreads so even though the rest of the items listed seemed like a weird mixture, I felt this dish call to me. It was superb – the sweetbread was cooked to perfection – juicy and tender but with a great exterior crunch. The onion sauce had a nice balance of sweetness and creaminess and the other elements worked well even if adding cheese, mustard and nuts to this would seem odd. Just trust me.

The other starter I got to try through an exchange with the birthday boy was THE Club Chasse et Pêche classic starter – the braised piglet risotto topped with foie gras shavings. Holy cow did this dish not disappoint. My friend called it the best risotto he has ever had and I would agree. The risotto itself is cooked nicely – a touch firm but still very tender and the flavours are out of this world – the mixture of the pork and the rich foie gras made this so decadent but so powerful. Definitely a dish not to miss when you go!

As a main dish, after much MUCH deliberation, I went with their version of the surf and turf, Le Chasse et Pêche, the component of which change regularly. On this occasion, it was buttery lobster and 30 day aged steak. Excellent preparation of both elements. The lobster was all rich and buttery goodness. The steak was seared perfectly and very tender. An excellent surf and turf.

As a dessert, I decided to go with their Bomb – a caramel and milk chocolate tartelette served with an 80% chocolate sorbet. I loved the tarte – flaky and crisp with a great rich caramel flavour. Honestly I didn’t like the sorbet – it felt too watery to me which gave us less impact than it should have. A minor quibble in a great meal.

Le Club Chasse et Pêche was a great experience and worth the wait. The food was exquisite – our entire table left the dinner very full and satisfied. It may be easily missed when you walk around Old Montreal but believe it, it is definitely worth your attention. Don’t wait as long as I did.

Cheers!

Le Club Chasse et Pêche
423 Rue St-Claude
514 861 1112

Le Club Chasse et Pêche Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

%d bloggers like this: