Tag Archives: Fred Morin

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

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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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