Tag Archives: Antonopoulos Group

Maggie Oakes

28 Jan

January in Montreal brings forth certain ideas to mind as Montrealers. For some, it is the %$?#ing snow and all that comes with it. For those who are looking to party, January means it is Igloofest. And for those of a more food specific point of view, January means Happening Gourmand is back in the Old Port. In its 11th year, Happening Gourmand is a event run by the Antonopoulos Group where they offer a discounted table d’hôte in their 9 Old Montreal restaurants. Basically MTL à Table but only theirs. Interesting enough as it is a chance to check out some interesting spots in the Old Port at a price that you don’t get to enjoy often in the Old Port. For the occasion of the birthdays of a couple of dear friends, we found ourselves at Maggie Oakes for dinner – curious what we would get for our money.

Maggie Oakes is located on a prime spot in Place Jacques-Cartier on the first floor of the William Gray boutique Hotel. It is apparently inspired by American bistros and steakhouses and strongly focuses on dry aged meats. Visually, the space is worthy of the Old Port. Very glamorous look – a mixture of marble, walnut and brass with a clear glass dry age meat cooler and wine cellar as well as a green wall where they appear to grow fresh herbs and micro-greens. The space is rather large but surprisingly wasn’t too noisy despite us being present on a busy Friday night.

For Happening Gourmand, we had access to a three course meal for 31$. We could still order extra off the regular menu so we started with some fresh Raspberry point oysters. Nice, fresh and a little salty – perfect start to the night.

For starters, we tried both options available. First was a butternut squash soup served with crab salad and fresh herbs. Nice creamy texture with a surprising kick of spice to it. I really enjoyed the addition of the crab to mix. The butternut squash flavour came through nicely although I didn’t get that hint of caramelized sweetness I was expecting.

Next was the smoked duck tartare with candied orange, peppers and pickled vegetables. Classic presentation and very well done overall. The duck was beautiful – its inherent fatty richness perfectly showcased here. I liked the use of the candied orange to add that nice sweetness that works so well with duck.

For mains, I first went with the handmade cavatelli served with wild mushrooms, cream sauce, tarragon and pecorino cheese. Excellent pasta dish. The pasta was cooked well and the cream sauce had the right mix of richness without being overwhelming. The mushroom added some nice earthiness and the pecorino a hint of sharpness. Very enjoyable.

My fiancé went with the slow cooking beef short ribs served with roasted Jerusalem artichokes and mashed sweet potatoes. The meat was perfectly fall off the bone good. Tender and very flavourful. The roasted veggies and the sweet mash are classic pairs with braised beef so of course they worked very well here.

For the last course, we had two options and tried both. Neither one really wowed us… especially compared to the previous courses. The raspberry cheesecake – a cream cheese mousse with vanilla, almond biscuit and raspberry confit – looked beautiful and tasted fine but didn’t leave much of a mark.

The chocolate cake – a chocolate biscuit with creamy dark chocolate and cream mounted chocolate milk – came off as dry. The cream was excellent but if the base isn’t solid, that doesn’t really matter.

Maggie Oakes was for 2 courses out of 3 a very pleasant surprise. The quality of food as well as the quantity was excellent and made for a great meal. The dessert course brought things back down to earth but overall, I can definitely recommend Maggie Oakes if one is looking to spend a nice evening in the Old Port. You will definitely be in the heart of the action.

Cheers!

Maggie Oakes
426 Place Jacques-Cartier
514 656 6000

Maggie Oakes Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Taverne Gaspar

17 Jan

The start of the new year also means the start of Happening Gourmand in the old port. This food “festival” brings together all the restaurants of the Antonopoulos Group and provides a special reduced price table d’hôte at each of their 8 restaurants. Events like these are enjoyable for me simply because it allows me to try Old Port restaurants without costing me my arm and perhaps a leg to enjoy. Ironically this year, I wasn’t a driving force amongst my friends to participate as is usually the case… two separate friends set up two reservations and invited me! I guess this is a sign of the event gaining a foothold in people’s consciousness. Either way, I won’t turn down a good meal so away I went. The first of the two dinners was at Taverne Gaspar – the Group’s Gastropup located on de la Commune with a view of the Saint-Lawrence.

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Visually, Taverne Gaspar attempts to blend the pub or tavern look with elements of the old Montreal building it is located in – a nice long wooden bar with wooden seats, leather banquettes and chairs, tile flooring and roofing, low lighting with the exception of the christmas lights set up along the center of the room. That choice along with the use of dark tones elsewhere to put emphasis on the old stone walls creates a very relaxed old world kind of feel. The night we were there the entire street actually lost power so at one point for a bit, the lighting was almost completely candlelight so that intimate feel was cranked up further! Thankfully the lost power didn’t affect our meal…

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Now, as for the food, the menu is definitely gastropub fare with touches of more local influences. As a group of 3, we each picked something different in order to try as much as we could. First up, a classic onion soup – a hardy and meaty broth with good quantity of onions nicely caramelized topped with gooey cheese and a crouton. Well very executed and enjoyable.

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I also had some fresh oysters because I’m a sucker of oysters so if they’re on the menu, it’s hard for me to resist. Paired with a nice mignonette, there were great.

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Next, we had the lobster sliders with house chips. Firstly, when the menu says sliders, we would have expected more than one but no… just one. Thankfully it was pretty flavourful although I would have prefer more lobster versus mayo. The house chips were nicely seasoned with a good crunch. The salad felt like it was there to make the dish seem larger. A solid dish flavour-wise but disappointing in terms of portion – especially when this was a dish where they charged extra for it within the table d’hôte.

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The last starter was their beef poutine with cheese curds and cipollini sauce. In my eyes, this was the best of the bunch. The beef was rich and fall apart in texture and in combination with the cipollini sauce, gave the poutine a much hefty feel than your standard poutine. Add solid fries and the correct cheese curds – melt just a bit but still keep its texture and squeak – and we have a great starter.

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Moving on the mains, the first one was their beef bourguignon. Once again great texture to the beef – chewy but fall apart. Carrots and potatoes cooked nicely as well but that reduced sauce was really the key here. Brought everything together and really made the dish nice and hearty – exactly what one seeks in a beef bourguignon.

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Next was the mac n’cheese with cheddar and smoked lardons. Baked off nicely in a onion soup dish, the cheddar brought some sharpness to the creamy gooeyness that is mac n’cheese and of course the fattiness of the lardons was well appreciated. A solid dish.

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The last main was the Gaspar BBQ burger with their house fries – another dish where they charged extra for but thankfully in this case it was worth it. Portion-wise this was by far the biggest and enjoyable across the board. More of the house fries plus a side of coleslaw to go with the burger. The beef patty was cooked perfectly topped with some melted cheese, bacon and slaw. A little spicy mayo was provided to go with the fries as well. Another solid dish to round off the second course.

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Finally, we had the desserts. The table d’hôte provided two options – chantilly brownies and a bumble berry cheesecake. The brownies were decadent and very chocolatey. The chantilly cream provided a nice counterbalance to that. The cheesecake was nice as well – the right level of creaminess without being too rich. Solid way to end our meal.

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Overall, Taverne Gaspar was a solid and well executed meal pretty much across the board. I’m not a big fan of how they charge extra on certain dishes within the table d’hote especially when they are some of the more appealing options there but I suppose it was just up to us to not order them. I like the vibe of the setting and the quality of the food on the menu. If one is seeking a worthwhile gastropub in Old Montreal, Gaspar is worth your consideration.

Cheers!

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Taverne Gaspar
89 Rue de la Commune Est
514 392 1649

Taverne Gaspar on Urbanspoon

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