Tag Archives: brunch

Cafe Griffintown (Brunch Edition)

31 Jul

For the first time in a long while, I went to brunch where the choice of location wasn’t made by me. As one starts to become known within his friend circle as the “restaurant guy”, usually I am the one tasked with the selection. Not this time around as a couple of friends decided it was time that I tried a favourite of theirs closed to their neighbourhood (and one I actually have had on my list for some time), Cafe Griffintown.

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Located on Notre-Dame street just off de la Montagne, this cafe has just a beautiful space to work with. High ceilings, exposed brick walls, beautiful aged wood floors, metallic accents with an open kitchen and a terrasse to boot, I love pretty much everything about this space. Add some great jazz and big band music in the background and you have a cafe that I could spend hours at.

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But enough about the interior design, you want to hear about the food because frankly this is a food blog after all. The brunch menu is one of breakfast classics with some unique twists as well. To start, I ordered a glass of their “Palm Spring” – a mixture of fresh papaya, banana and pineapple juice. Great balance to this juice – not too sweet, not too sour, just a nice refreshing drink on a warm summer day.

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As a main, I went for the crab cake and eggs. Homemade crab cake with sunnyside-up eggs, a side of bacon, a smoked and marinated jalapeños remoulade and a fresh salad. The crab cake was nice and dense with crab meat – no excessive binder here. The bacon was cooked as I like it – not crispy and the eggs were cooked as listed. The remoulade was not nearly as spicy as I expected (which for me is a good thing) and provided a nice tang to the dish. The only miss for me was the salad as it really didn’t have a reason other than to make the plate seem larger. No dressing to really speak of and the lettuce honestly didn’t seem all that fresh. If we ignore the salad, the rest of the plate is a winner.

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One of my friends went with the Mac & Cheese – L’Ile-aux-Grues, Swiss gruyere, Bierbrier beer with a side of bacon, poached eggs and some greens. The poached eggs were well done, the bacon was cooked the same way as mine was and the macaroni had great flavour. Both cheeses and the beer used in the Mac & Cheese added a nice creamy sharpness to the dish but not one that would feel overbearing and heavy towards the end. The greens used here also seemed fresher. A very nice dish that I definitely would want to try next time as my own main.

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My other friend went with their Canadian breakfast – 2 eggs your way with a side of meat (chorizo, bacon or prosciutto), potatoes, toast and a green salad. The eggs (scrambled in this case) were solid, the potatoes had good flavour and the bacon was cooked as the previous 2 dishes had been. The green salad was actually like mine which was disappointing but the real star here was the bread. Nice thick cut pieces of fresh bread grilled well and buttered. Every time I get bread like this in a restaurant I am reminded of my desire to bake my own sourdough bread. I definitely need to get on that. Anyway, solid dish apart from the salad once again.

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After our meal, we sat there for another hour so clearly we felt right at home in this cafe. What can I say… my friends make good restaurant choices. I taught them well. Just kidding. Anyway, they were spot-on with this choice and it led to a great Sunday brunch. People in the Sud-Ouest region either living there or visiting, look no further than Cafe Griffintown for all your brunch needs. I only wish the live Jazz they have during the week was also there during Brunch. Then we would have probably stayed there a few more hours.

Cheers!

Cafe Griffintown
1378 Notre Dame St W
(514) 931-5299

Griffintown Café on Urbanspoon

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EVOO Cuisine Soignée (Brunch Edition)

17 Feb

On a recent Sunday, I headed down by the Atwater Market to finally check out a brunch spot I had on my list for a few months now – EVOO Cuisine Soignée. This contemporary and stylish looking restaurant does a brunch service on weekends. The menu is relatively small but provides much variety outside of the usual fare you can get from many brunch locations.

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As a starter, my friend and I ordered a side of housemade Nutella or NutellOO with some toasts. This was quite a treat and an excellent way to start the meal. Perfectly smooth texture with a wonderfully strong chocolate taste that just screams out “we melted down actually chocolate for this”. The hazelnut note was less than normal Nutella but still very present. Very well done.

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Next up, we ordered a side of the Ricotta fritters. They came in 3 varieties – fennel, coriander and a third one which I forgot actually. All three were quite good although I really didn’t pick up any hint of coriander in that one. A dense yet fluffy interior with a crisp exterior, the ricotta comes through with the richness of each fritter. The sugar and the pastry cream added the appropriate sweetness.

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As a main, my friend ordered the baked potato with spicy salsa verde. Right off the bat, this thing was a monster. A ridiculously huge plate that my friend couldn’t finish and even with my help, there were remnants. When even the waitress notes picking up the plates that most people don’t finish it, you know you are dealing with a big dish. The dish works pretty well – the combination of the poached egg, the creme fraiche and cheese with the actual potato creates a nice richness and creaminess. The smoked bacon adds a little crunch and the salsa verde, while not as spicy as it was implied by our waitress, added a very nice kick to the dish. Definitely something I never would have expected for brunch.

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On my end, I ordered the sausage roll with spicy red cabbage and mint compote. The roll was a large whole sausage with caramelized onions wrapped in puff pastry. Very good although I must admit that I had expected the interior to be a sausage and onion filling. Because the sausage was whole, as soon as you cut it, the pastry just fell off the sausage. A pretty minor issue in reality. The red cabbage added some texture and bite to the dish all while giving that little hint of spice. The mint compote was nice and light – the perfect way to cleanse the palette as you went about your meal.

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This was a very nice experience from beginning to end. The service was friendly and attentive all while being timely. The variety of the menu is a nice plus for them – very creative options for people who want something else out of their brunch. I truly looked forward to coming back at some point for their dinner service.

Cheers!

EVOO Cuisine Soignée
3426 Notre-Dame Ouest
514 846 3886

Evoo on Urbanspoon

Prohibition (Brunch Edition)

29 Nov

I am always on the lookout for brunch spots to try out. While I tend to focus on places in the Plateau and Mile End districts (mostly because I live nearby which is convenient on lazy weekends), every once in a while I will hear of a place for which I am willing to go a little further. Jason from Shut Up and Eat provided me with this gem with one of his most recent posts. As such, I hightailed it to NDG with my brunch buddy to go visit Prohibition.

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This small restaurant sticks to a one page focused menu that has eclectic brunch fare. I started with the triple chocolate pretzel cookie because….well why not? Rich and gooey, just a delicious cookie. The pretzel pieces were not as plentiful as I expected but the mix of chocolates offset that nicely.

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My friend had the lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberry compote and sugar bacon. The pancakes were nice and fluffy with a very strong note of lemon. I didn’t expect the lemon to come out that strongly in the batter. Truly a pleasant surprise. The blueberry compote added the right level of sweetness to the dishes – maple syrup not required but still utilized. The sugar bacon was very nice as well – big thick cut bacon that is crispy and sweet at the same time.

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I ordered the Challah french toast and fried chicken combo. A wonderful play on the southern classic chicken and waffles. The Challah french toast brought forth a wonderful sweet and crisp exterior with a light and fluffy interior. Honestly one of the French toast plates I’ve ever had. The fried chicken was very well done as well. Two requirements come to mind with fried chicken. First, the batter must be seasoned properly and crispy. Second, the chicken must remain juicy. Dryness is not an option. Both requirements were nailed here. This was very good chicken which a nice balance to the sweetness of the French toast. It is a pretty heavy dish by the usual breakfast and brunch standard, so if you like a lighter meal, avoid this combo but for everyone else, you will love it.

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Prohibition certainly brought to the table some great brunch dishes that veered away from the standard breakfast and brunch fare. The price is reasonable all things considered and unlike a lot of places nowadays, the coffee and tea is included in the meal. If you are a party larger than 2, you may end up waiting in weekends as the place is not very big but regardless, Prohibition is certainly worth a look for any brunch seeking individuals.

Cheers!

Prohibition
5674 Monkland Ave
(514) 481-8466

Prohibition on Urbanspoon

Maison Publique (Brunch Edition)

21 Oct

There has been much anticipation for Jamie Oliver’s 1st foray into the Montreal food scene with Maison Publique, the English pub style joint run by Derek Dammann, his local partner, former sous-chef and formerly of DNA restaurant in Old Montreal. While I had hoped to first experience their dinner service earlier during their opening week, the timing didn’t work out. However, I was able to visit for Brunch on their first open Sunday. I was very exciting to see what exactly Derek and co. had in store.

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The restaurant is located in the heart of plateau Mont Royal in a relatively residential area. The bar dominates the decor and with good reason as it is absolutely beautiful. You also get a nice open view of the kitchen from both inside the restaurant (just outside of the frame to the left) and from the window outside the restaurant. The steady stream of alternative music added to a relaxed friendly and slightly hip vibe.

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No menus are handed to you here – everything is posted on a board for all to see. Our waitress kindly informed us of this fact and mentioned the few items she had gotten to try… They’d only had one service previous to our visit, so quite understandable. The menu is a nice mix of classic brunch items with some twists, some typical English breakfast items and more eclectic fare. To start off, I ordered the apple strudel. Nice and flaky with a delicious apple filling, it was a good start to the meal.

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Next up, I ordered the breakfast sandwich. A sausage patty covered with melted cheese, topped with a egg and maple syrup, all between the housemade English muffin. You are left with a very tasty and satisfying sandwich. The English muffin in particular was quite nice.

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My sister, on the other hand. ordered the pancakes with pear butter and smoked bacon. Very nice and fluffy pancakes, all perfectly cooked. The pear butter was a nice and subtle touch to the dish and the bacon had a great smokiness as you would expect.

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All in all, a very successful brunch and this was their first weekend. I only except things to get better and better. In general, good brunch places are hard to find so to see a new option enter the scene – especially in my neck of woods – is a wonderful thing. Everyone looking for a great brunch will be in for a great treat if they visit Maison Publique. I hope to have a review of their dinner options shortly – this experience has only made me more eager to come back for more.

Cheers!

Maison Publique
4720 Marquette (corner Gilford)
514 507 0555

Maison Publique on Urbanspoon

 

Pastaga (Brunch Edition)

17 Sep

Another beautiful Sunday in Montreal can only mean another Brunch opportunity. This past weekend, my brunch partner and I….and yes… I have a brunch buddy. In lieu of a relationship, brunch is best enjoyed amongst friends, so we have made this a regular occurrence. Great way to maintain friendships you care about. Food for thought (and pun completely intended). Anyway… Pastaga is a restaurant that I have wanted to visit for some time now. Eventually I will go for dinner but for the time being, having been biking by it every weekend for the past 3 months on my way to Jean Talon Market, I decided that brunch was a quicker option for the time being.

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Pastaga does brunch on Sunday exclusively. On this beautiful day, we arrived before any rush and sat down right away. Right off the bat, the place has a great look and feel. Very simple and fresh decor. The large window in the front of the restaurant provides a large amount of natural light which lights up the space. Simple wood tables, couch chairs and a nice bar in the back. The killer element is the glass wall in the back which exposes the beautiful kitchen for all to see. I could have sat there for hours.

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Started off with a strawberry smoothie and the complimentary sugared doughnuts with housemate caramel. Smoothie was light but had a great taste. The doughnuts were very good as well. They didn’t have the warm fluffy texture of something that has been made fresh to order but were delicious regardless. Nice crunch to them and not too dense. The caramel was the star however. Perfectly rich and smooth.

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As a main course, I had Pastaga’s version of a hash. Grilled potatoes and peppers with bacon, egg and toast. Simple in principle but exquisite in execution. All the elements came together wonderfully for a great dish. The bacon in particular was just perfect. More a large slab of pork than what most would consider bacon but no complaints here. Simply a great dish.

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My friend had the Benedictine plate. Pastaga’s play of this dish included a fowl drumstick. Once again, every element of the plate was perfectly executed. The biscuit was good, the poached egg was perfect, the drumstick was great and the hollandaise sauce was exceptionally light with the same taste one would expect from most hollandaise sauces. Another great dish.

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Finally, to finish off the meal, we split the petit fours which consisted of 4 mini brownies with a candied grape in the middle of each. A perfect sweet ending to a very good meal.

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Pastaga was a great brunch experience that I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a nice place to try out. This meal further reinforced my need to come have dinner here as well. Anytime you are in the Little Italy/ Jean Talon Market area, you would be hard pressed to find a better brunch option to enjoy on a nice relaxing Sunday.

Cheers!

Pastaga
6389 Saint-Laurent (corner Beaubien)
438 381-6389

Pastaga on Urbanspoon

Lawrence

15 Jul

Following the successful brunch at the Sparrow, I went a couple of weeks later to its nearby neighbor, Lawrence. This restaurant is situated right on the corner of St-Laurent and Fairmount in the Mile End district of Montreal. It has a more minimalist and clean look compared to the Sparrow. It is a also a smaller locale so when it is busy (as it was on the Saturday morning I was there with a friend), the noise level gets a little high. Regardless, it has a great look and fits in nicely with the style of the neighborhood.

The menu falls into the more traditional trappings of brunch but with a strong British style. Tea and coffee is served in traditional china cups and the classic British breakfast is a staple of the menu. However, I chose to go a different way.

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That glorious sandwich you see before you is Lawrence’s take of a breakfast sandwich but frankly it is more like a breakfast burger. A perfectly cooked pork patty topped with an egg, cheese, lettuce, tomato and in between a wonderful breakfast roll, this was a delight to enjoy. In the background of the image, you can sort of make out what my friend had: French toast with strawberries, rhubarb and fresh whipped cream. Simple but perfectly done – the candied rhubarb in particular was to die for. There were no sides with either dish which was perfectly acceptable given the portion size of the french toast. As for the sandwich, a size would have been appreciated but that was my choice given what was coming next.

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I’ll admit it… I am a sucker for doughnuts. Especially when there are made fresh to order. I had been told that I needed to order these bad boys and boy did they not disappoint. Lawrence offers a choice of 3 fillings: chocolate, english cream and lemon. I ordered one of each and all 3 were superb. A nice crispy exterior with a warm soft interior… Clearly the cooks know what they are doing. This would be the must try item for everyone who gives Lawrence a try.

All in all, this was a wonderful brunch experience that I would highly recommend. A bit more traditional but perfectly executed from start to finish. So next time you feel like enjoying a nice weekend morning in the mild end and plateau areas of Montreal, gives this place a look. Don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Cheers!

Lawrence
5201 Saint-Laurent (corner Fairmount)
514 503 1070

Lawrence on Urbanspoon

The Sparrow

12 Jul

If there is one element of the Montreal food scene that I have truly ignored in my time living in the city, it is proper breakfast or brunch places. Based on my readings online, I have clearly been missing out on some fantastic options and as such, decided to remedy the situation. About a month or so ago, I started along this path by visiting The Sparrow on St-Laurent (near Maguire) in the Mild End district of the city with a friend.

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Now, under normal circumstances, The Sparrow is a British gastropub which I clearly need to visit during evenings hours. The place has a great look and feel. The music selection during our meal was an amazing eclectic mix of soul, old rock, jazz which I hummed along to throughout the meal. The service was also quite quick and efficient despite the crowded restaurant (We arrived at opening hence the empty picture above… It filled up rather quickly afterwards) If you check the hours at the door, you would have no idea that they even do breakfast/brunch on weekends… It’s not listed! However, they do amazingly creative and delicious fare.

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What you see before you is house smoked pork, eggs, apple sauce, house made tater-tots and the most legitimate biscuit I’ve ever had outside of the southern US. Add to that a side of chorizo sausage & a bourbon lemonade and you get a sense of the kind of food this pub serves up. My friend, on her end, ordered eggs benedict prepared superbly with asparagus and which used biscuits as a replacement for the English muffins. Across the board, the food was quite delicious.

If you’re looking for a fun and slightly different take of the typical breakfast/ brunch meal, The Sparrow is great choice to try. Note that they only take cash, so be prepared accordingly.

Cheers!

The Sparrow
5322 St-Laurent (near Maguire)
514 507 1642

The Sparrow on Urbanspoon

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