Tag Archives: Fred Morin

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 Vin Papillon

19 Aug

The Joe Beef guys opened a wine bar. That was pretty much all that I needed to hear. It took just over a month after its opening but I headed down to the corner of Charlevoix and Notre-Dame (which at this point is probably my most visited street block in the city outside of the Jean Talon Market and my own apartment) with a friend for a little early weekend dinner.

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The first thing you notice when you walk in is the visual differences between it and its brethren. No crazy or folksy paraphernalia on the walls. A very clean and elegant look with white brick, white tiles, wood tables and black leather. The entire right side of the narrow space is a beautiful bar where all the prep work is done. There is also a small relatively sparse terrasse in the back with communal tables. Overall, there is a sleeker look in keeping with a wine bar but once you add the blackboard menus and the alternative music, it keeps that Joe Beef/Liverpool House feel that I love.

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Like its brethren, Le Vin Papillon has no set menu on paper. When you enter, there is one blackboard with the day’s menu listed as well as a couple that list the wine choices they have by the bottle. Surprisingly enough for a wine bar concept, they don’t have very many selections by the glass. It is almost all by the bottle. The wines were mostly French and Italian from my browsing of the choices. The wines I tried were selected by our waiter because, to be honest, I have a complete lack of knowledge of wine outside of California so I figured he would be in a better place to provide me a good glass. Both were quite good but I won’t go into details here. I’ll stick to the food.

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The menu is very interesting in that it is very light on meats which is really separates it from both other restaurants. The dishes are mainly vegetables based and are very much dishes design to accompany wine and share amongst your dining party.

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First up, we went with the haricots-coco-romano. Local quebec green beans with some prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes, romano cheese and beans tossed in some olive oil. As will be a pretty consistent theme through the meal, this plate was a great showcase of local produce with a few augments to enhance and up the flavours. The sun-dried tomatoes and the romano were nice pairings with the crisp green beans. The olive oil allowed all the ingredients to blend nicely.

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We followed that up with a selection of their cheeses of the day. Again, we left the choices up to the staff with the caveat of no blue cheese (still not a favorite of mine by itself). We got 3 out of the 7 they were offering that day. Great selection by the staff as they mixed up the texture and the tastes nicely. With the cheese, we got a plate of toasted artisan loaf bread with butter as well as fresh nuts to crack and enjoy. Loved the bread – thank god they didn’t leave a basket at the table during the whole meal because I wouldn’t have stopped eating it. As from the nuts, I love the idea but the practice of cracking them at the table is a little messier than is ideal.

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Next up, we went with the roasted onion and ricotta cheese. Just a great dish and a kind of item pairing that in hindsight I wished I had thought up sooner. Fresh creamy ricotta cheese with a beautifully roasted sweet onion and some more of that bread. Absolutely no complaints here.

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The final dish of our first selection was the chicken wings with tarragon. Nice flavours here and the wings were cooked as they should be, however I feel this was the least successful dish but only because of the impractically of eating wings at a wine bar. A little too messy and sticky to enjoy with a glass of wine even when trying to eat them neatly.

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Still somewhat hungry, we decided to order a couple of more plats. First up this time, their rotisserie Cauliflower. Yeah, that’s right. This dish was by far the most unique thing we had this evening. Roasted cauliflower with thyme, crispy chicken skin, candied lemon peels and a spicy oil mixture on top. A surprisingly spicy dish but one with great texture and crunch from the roasted cauliflower and the chicken skin. Very enjoyable.

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We then went with our waiter’s suggestion of the vinegar eggplant. Roasted eggplants topped with a tomato/almond mixture, some melted cheese, some fresh basil and of course, as the name implies, vinegar. Nice earthy flavours throughout with the sweetness of the tomatoes, the richness of the cheese and the acidity of the vinegar mixed in. A surprisingly filling dish on top of all that. Very well done.

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To finish the whole thing off, I went with a homemade chocolate truffle with some fresh blueberries. Rich creamy chocolate interior coated with some crushed pistachios for a little nutty crunch. Perfectly done and the perfect sweet touch to cap off the meal.

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Overall, a very nicely executed wine bar concept and one with a menu that surprises with its emphasis on vegetables. A few dishes and some wine glasses later, you leave stuffed and quite satisfied. I think that is really all you can ask from a great wine bar. Note that they do not take reservations so you may wait a bit if you go during peak hours. Otherwise, just sit back and enjoy some wine!

Cheers!

Le Vin Papillon
2519 Notre Dame Ouest

Le Vin Papillon on Urbanspoon

Liverpool House

4 Aug

There are certain restaurants that just speak to us. Everything, from the decor to the ambience to the music and of course the food, works within your sensibilities and creates a space that would go gladly go back to day after day if you could because it just feels right. Fred Morin and Dave McMillan created just such a place for me with Joe Beef. Since my original visit there last year (and further reinforced by my recent meal there this summer), I have always had their second restaurant (and neighbour a few doors down) Liverpool House on my “Must Check Out” list. Well, I finally got the chance with the family to see if the Morin and McMillan spell on me would continue.

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With our 9:30 reservation and the dim lighting, there wasn’t really the chance to take some interior pictures (and impacted the quality of my other pictures as well) but Liverpool House continues the casual and off-beat look that Joe Beef has in spades. Beautiful bar to enjoy a drink while a Steven Segal movie plays on a mini TV, wood panelled walls with large chalkboard menus, leather banquets and wood tables, a canoe on the ceiling, a mounted deer on the wall and way too many paintings of 18 wheelers. I simply cannot do it justice without images. All to say, I love it and the vibe it sets for the meal. Add some great alternative music and you’ve got me hook, line and sinker.

Before we even discuss the food, we must start with the cocktails. Liverpool House has a few house cocktails and I got to try 2 over the course of the evening. First, the Old Pal – basically their twist on a Negroni. A very bitter cocktail but one that I enjoyed tremendously. The second one was called a St-Vincent Sour – their play on a Whiskey sour but using Bourbon and maple syrup instead. Love the overall balance of this cocktail – very smooth with a slight touch of sweet and no bitterness. Complete 180 to the Old Pal in every sense. I definitely will be playing with that combination of ingredients at home shortly.

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As a appetizer, I went with their “Beer Cheese” dish – a mixture of blue cheese, cream cheese and goat cheese with some beer and other spices which becomes a spread served with marinated vegetables and some grilled toast. A very solid cheese blend that balances itself quite nicely. The cream and goat cheeses lent a nice smooth creamy texture while the blue cheese added a bit of kick but not enough to overwhelm the other elements of the spread. The marinated vegetables added a little vinegar to the party and the deliciously toasted bread served as the perfect platter for all of this. A great appetizer.

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On to the main. I decided to go for the veal sweetbreads with a mix of onions and Romesco sauce. Served on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes and some jus, this dish will make anyone who has issues with sweetbreads love them. Nice and crispy on the outside with a perfect soft and fluffy texture inside, the sweetbreads were cooked to perfection to truly showcase the natural fattyness they hold. The mixture of onions added some nice sweetness to the dish and the Romesco sauce (a Spanish nut and red pepper-based sauce for the un-initiated as I was that night) provided a little garlic kick and as well as a little sweet spiciness. This dish was returned completely picked clean – loved every inch of it.

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There was one other main course I tried as there was some leftovers at the table and that was the curry shrimps. The reason for some being left over is quite simple – the portion they serve is huge. Over a dozen large shrimp served in a curry mixture with spicy lentils, pilaf rice and a yogourt sauce. The sauce for the shrimp was nice and mild in terms of curry. I cannot say the same for the lentils – a little too much heat for my tastes, especially the after-taste. Thankfully the deliciously creamy yogourt sauce cooled my palette off quickly. Add a solid rice pilaf and you have a solid dish through and through.

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Finally we get to dessert. I went for the Apricot Financiers. Mini light and fluffy almond flour-based cakes with a hazelnut crust served with some cherries, apricots and house-made vanilla ice cream. Wonderfully executed dessert all around. I was a big fan in particular of the ice cream. Just a great depth of vanilla flavour on top of a velvety texture. A great end to a awesome meal.

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In the end, Liverpool House had me from the moment I walked in and never let go. The entire experience was wonderful and simply made wish I could come back more often (and believe me… if it weren’t for budgetary notions, I would be there and at Joe Beef pretty much monthly). If you have been to Joe Beef and enjoyed it, then you need to check out Liverpool House. If you haven’t been, then no worries. Just come down anyway and I am sure you will convert quite quickly. Now to go save more money to visit again soon….

Cheers!

Liverpool House
2501 Notre-Dame St W
(514) 313-6049

Liverpool House on Urbanspoon

Joe Beef

8 Jul

Let’s start my reviews with a bang.

For the event of my convocation last month, I was provided with the choice of any restaurant in Montreal to celebrate. I didn’t need to give it much thought – Joe Beef was the only choice for me.
For the uninitiated, Joe Beef is currently considered probably the center of the Montreal food scene and has been receiving universal praise from many famous chefs worldwide. The geniuses behind this restaurant are Frederic Morin and David McMillan – two well known chefs here in the city. They opened this gem in the Little Burgundy neighborhood of the city which is now an up and coming area but wasn’t at the time they first opened up. The restaurant has an amazingly cool but unpretentious vibe. We got lucky and had a reservation in the backyard surrounded by the garden where they grow their own vegetables and herbs. Nothing quite like seeing the cooks come pick items fresh to use in their dishes.

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Now for the meal… Decadent doesn’t begin to describe it. Do not come here except a light meal. Everything is big, rich and meaty. The entree course provided us with fresh oysters from New Brunswick which were to die for. Nothing fancy but just perfect.

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The other element of the entree course was truly the star of the show. KFC has the double down sandwich so Joe Beef decided to crank it up a couple of notches and provides us with the Foie Gras Double Down. It is exactly what it sounds like and simply the greatest thing I have never eaten… 2 pieces of fried Foie Gras with house smoked bacon and aged cheddar in between. I cannot possibly convey the experience other than to say you MUST try this.. Just don’t tell your doctor afterwards.

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The next course brought me Lobster sausage in a clam bake. Very good but after the previous course, it just didn’t wow as much as I had hoped. Then again, I’m not sure how anything could really followed that double down. The one thing I forget to photograph was the side that came with this course – house fries tossed in garlic butter and Parmesan. That’s right…. Garlic butter. They were as amazing as you think they would be.

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The dessert course was their version of a baked potato – made of chocolate covered hard meringue, ice cream, mint and candied fruits. Very creative and quite good as well.

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All in all, this was an amazing culinary experience that I will never forget. It is a pricy meal but worth every penny. If anyone asks me what is THE experience to try when in Montreal, Joe Beef is it.

Cheers!

Joe Beef
2491 Notre Dame West
514 935 6504

Joe Beef on Urbanspoon

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