Tag Archives: mile end

Petite Maison (Brunch edition)

7 Jun

It had been a long time since I had tried a new brunch location so taking advantage of a recent beautiful spring day here in Montreal, my sister and I decided to go try a relatively new spot that I had heard good things about so far – Danny St Pierre’s Petite Maison.

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The long awaited Montreal project from Chef St Pierre is located in Mile End on Parc Avenue just north of St-Viateur. Its basement location is such that it is quite easy to walk by and miss it completely – we did as we were paying for parking! When you walk into the restaurant, the space is very clean and inviting. The use of white walls creates a much brighter space than you would expect from a basement. Simple decor accents and the stone foundation wall add some extra touches to the space. What is also not obvious when you enter is this room is not the whole space but simply the front of the house. A corridor brings you further back to the kitchen and another seating area. The divided rooms do create a more intimate feel though and help to reduce noise. Add some easy listening music and you have a nicely relaxed atmosphere for brunch.

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Petite Maison’s brunch setup is a fixed price menu – 24$ – which gets you a couple of entrees to share, your choice of a main dish and a couple of desserts to share again. A very reasonable price for the amount of food you get – I have not been that full after a brunch service in a very long time! A surprisingly good bang for your buck in that way. On top of the usual drink options, cocktails were available and I am never one to skip a good cocktail. I went with a Pimm’s Lemonade – a light refreshing drink for a brunch.

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Our first entree was duck rillettes served with onion confit, croutons, pickles and grain mustard. Fatty and rich texture as one would expect with duck. Strangely enough, the mix of the duck with the croutons and mustard – never pickles – created a very smoked meat-like flavour. The sweetness of the confit was a nice compliment to the rest of the dish.

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Our second entree was a watercress salad with green apple and nuts. A nice light healthy salad. Nice balance of acid and sweet with a bit of crunch with the nuts. A solid compliment to the previously rich dish.

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For a little extra, we also had the option of adding Chef St Pierre’s unique “Poutine Inversé” – poutine in croquettes. Very nice crunch to the outside and yeah….the initial hit you get is truly of a poutine. A cool way to present a classic Quebec dish in a different fashion. 6 wasn’t enough…. I could have eaten a basket of these babies!

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As a main dish, my sister went with the eggs Benedict with asparagus and shrimp. Classic eggs perfectly executed – the hollandaise looked thick at first but was surprisingly light in consistency which was a very pleasant discovery. The one weird element was that the shrimp in the dish were served cold which was a little strange in comparaison to the temperature of the rest of the dish. Otherwise, a very satisfactory dish that filled up tremendously – my sister was unable to finish it due to being too full!

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I ordered the pulled pork breakfast sandwich but through an error, I ended up with the fine herb omelette instead – not quite the same thing but the mistake was quickly resolved and we ended up with the extra dish on the house. The omelette, served with cream cheese and green onions folded in and some chicken fried potatoes on the side, was excellent. A soft pillowy texture but rich and flavourful. The combination of green onions and cream cheese added to the richness and brought some creaminess and sharpness. The potatoes were solid as well.

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The pulled pork sandwich came right after. Usually served with potatoes, we skipped that since they had come with the omelette. The savoury shredded pork was served over a hamburger bun with shredded cheese, arugula and a sunny side up egg. I loved the flavour of the pork. The egg made it pretty much impossible to eat as a sandwich without making a huge mess so I went open face instead. The one negative was the bun – just a un-toasted white bread hamburger bun. Given the quality of the rest of the meal, I expected something more. It was fine but just odd relative to everything else.

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Despite having pretty much no appetite anymore, we still had dessert to try. First was churros served with caramel sauce. Not served as hot you would expect but the texture was nice. The caramel sauce’s flavour was too burnt with my sister and I. The other dessert was the chocolate hazelnut torta. Also served cold, this cake was much denser than I expected but deliciously rich. Whole hazelnuts inside the sorta brought some crunch and really helped create that natural nutella flavour we all love.

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Petite Maison was a nice experience to try out – a worthy addition to Mile End. Other than the mistake on the order which they dealt with very smoothly, service was quick and attentive. The food, other than a few little issues, was on point and showed a nice level of technical prowess. La Petite Maison has dinner and lunch as well and this experience definitely has me wanted to come back and see Chef St Pierre and Co. have on tap in the evening – just another reason to visit one of my favorite hoods in the city.

Cheers!

Petite Maison
5589 Parc
514 303 1900

Petite Maison Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Hotel Herman

25 Mar

Special occasions require special settings. For the night of my girlfriend’s birthday, I wanted a lovely and refined experience with good service and atmosphere…. that also needed to be open on Monday. Not that easy given Monday is typically the Montreal restaurant off day! Looking through my options, I came to one that I had neglected from my to-visit list for a long time…. so off we went back to my favourite neighbourhood Mile End to go pay a visit to Hotel Herman.

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Located on Saint-Laurent just south of Fairmount, Hotel Herman is a pretty unassuming restaurant from the outside and similarly inside. The space is focused around a beautiful U-shaped bar in the middle of the room. Small tables all around that and the open kitchen in the back so you can see the staff in action. No big visual flourishes on the walls. Lighting is low and the music is of the smooth jazz and soul variety so the general feeling of the room is relaxed but intimate. On this particular Monday, it was very quiet – much to the surprise of our waitress who stated that normally they get 70 people on Mondays but they only had 20 on this night! I can imagine the atmosphere being more energetic normally but this was very suitable for my girlfriend and I on this celebratory evening.

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Drink-wise, I was in the mood for a cocktail, so I went with their Penicilline – scotch, honey and ginger. A nicely balanced drink. The sweetness of the honey dulled the scotch enough for my girlfriend to find it enjoyable but still leaving me for the scotch smokiness that I love. We also had some lovely glasses of wine from countries I’ve never associated with wine – Czech Republic and Greece. My girlfriend originally ordered a different wine which, after our waitress served it, she came back less than 5 minutes later and switched it – stating she wasn’t happy with it. My girlfriend hadn’t really been bothered by it but much appreciation to a staff that cares enough about those details. Throughout the night, the staff was friendly and sharp. Attentive but not overbearing which can be easy on the nights where there is no one in the room.

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The dishes at Hotel Herman are of small-to-medium size with emphasis on doing ingredients in different ways on the plate. Our first starter was trout served in a gravlax-style with onions, beurre blanc and crispy seaweed. This first dish told me everything about what to expect from Hotel Herman – beautiful presentation, simple in terms of number of ingredients but so subtle, so refined and lovely flavours. The trout’s texture was beautiful – firm but still delicate enough to come apart without much effort. Lovely smoked flavour that wasn’t too salty despite its preparation – much to my girlfriend’s satisfaction due to her hatred of salt. The inclusion of the sweet onions and the beurre blanc were nice compliments to the fish.

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Our second dish was beet root served two ways with juniper berries and hay. Another beautiful dish visually although we were not blown away this time tasting it. Flavours were nice but not wowing truthfully. I did enjoy the crispy thinner strips of beet texturally but my girlfriend was not as pleased by it. We also got some of the housemate bread with butter. The bread had a nice crunchy crust but the interior was soft and dense.

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For our mains, we started with the venison heart tartare with a porcini emulsion, spruce and breadcrumbs. Probably one of my favourite tartares ever. The use of the venison heart creates a more gamey flavour and texture. Also less fatty to taste. The binding felt minimal so there wasn’t a gooey texture either to the tartare and the toasted breadcrumbs added a nice crunch to the mix. We ate this dish up pretty quickly. A huge hit for both of us.

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Our other main dish was the veal sweetbreads served with parsnip gnocchi and mustard. Another excellent dish from the kitchen. The sweetbreads were nicely cooked and still had all that fatty goodness I love with sweetbreads. The real surprise to me here though was the parsnips gnocchi. A cool way to incorporate parsnips, the gnocchi had that strong earthy flavour of the parsnip all while keeping the pillowy soft texture one seeks in gnocchi.

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Dessert wise, we decided to split the honey tart served with sour cream and sponge toffee. Nice crispy buttery tart shell on the outside, I really liked the use of sour cream to cut the sweetness from the honey filling. The sponge toffee adds an extra texturally element to the dish. A nice way to finish off the meal.

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Safe for one dish, Hotel Herman met my expectations. There is a reason that this restaurant has been one of the best ranked in Montreal for three years and has made Canada’s top 100. There is a level of attention and detail present here throughout the entire service that leaves you feeling that you are in good hands. Great service, simple but nice decor and excellent food – Hotel Herman is another great restaurant that gives Montreal a good name food-wise.

Cheers!

Hotel Herman
5171 Saint-Laurent
514 278 7000

Hôtel Herman Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Beauty’s Luncheonette

21 Oct

Certain restaurants in Montreal are what one would call institutions. As a local Montrealer, these are places that you should get to at some point because to miss them is to miss out on experiences that are part of what makes Montreal special when it comes to food. Schwartz’s, Moishes (eventually in my case), Laurier BBQ before the Ramsey fiasco, St-Viateur and/or Fairmount bagels (depending on where you side on that debate but that’s a story for another day), etc…. In the end, you may leave slightly underwhelmed because your experience couldn’t possibly match up to the hype but regardless, they are places that you must experience for yourself.

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Beauty’s is such a place. A staple of Montreal since 1942, they have been owned by the same family the whole time and have been serving up breakfast in Mile End ever since. Any day of the week you pass by, you will see a line-up outside. On this beautiful thanksgiving weekend, before heading to watch the Alouettes sadly get beat at Molson Stadium, I finally got my chance to visit Beauty’s with some friends for a little late breakfast.

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Beauty’s is known for their special – cream cheese, smoked salmon and onion on a bagel. However, I am not much of a fan of smoked salmon so I chose to go with the Beauty’s basic – two eggs, home fries, one meat with a bagel. A simple dish but one that must be spot on if you are worth your salt as a breakfast place. Very good overall. The home fries in particular were quite delicious.

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To that, we originally ordered some latkes and I took a Classico Beauty’s smoothie. However, they had run out of latkes by the way we got our order in. So just the smoothie would have to do. Strawberry, banana and orange juice – simple but classic. A nice thick consistency and very delicious. The perfect complement to a nice breakfast.

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Is it a earth shattering breakfast? Not exactly. But it is a Montreal landmark that serves a very good breakfast. The place looks exactly like what you think it would – a diner that has been going since 1942. It has a wonderful old fashion feel that I absolutely love – right down to the owner greeting you at the door and joking with you as you wait for your table. You may want something more unique or different for breakfast but that’s not Beauty’s and that’s fine. They simply do a damn fine breakfast as they have been doing since 1942. For that reason alone, you need to check it out. I waited way too long. You don’t have to make that same mistake.

Cheers!

Beauty’s Luncheonette
93 Mont-Royal West
514 849 8883

Beauty's on Urbanspoon

Comptoir 21

22 Aug

Following my experience last week at Brit and Chips (see previous blog entry), I decided to continue along the fish and chips path by visiting Comptoir 21 in Mile End. I stopped by on a early Friday evening to see what I have been missing.

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Comptoir 21 is a nice small diner-like space that can sit probably about 20 people. They also have a takeout counter should you choose to enjoy their food at home. Compared to Brit and Chips, their options are more straight forward but no less delicious.

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To start, I had their clam chowder. A nice hearty portion with loads of seafood and potatoes, the chowder avoided the classic sin of being too rich due to overuse of cream. Despite the warm weather outside, this chowder was a perfect starter to my meal.

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Next up was the reason I came in: the fish and chips. At Comptoir 21, there are no options regarding the fish or the batter used. You’ve got one choice and it is a damn good one. The fish is nice and flaky while retaining its moistness despite the frying. The batter is thin but very crisp and sticks nicely to the fish. The options you do have is regarding whether you want fries, poutine or salad as well as your choice of sauce. I kept it traditional because to me, how you pull off simple fries and a base tartar sauce tells me how good of a fish and chips place you can be. The fries were nice and thick with a good crunch. Personally, I felt they needed a bit of seasoning before serving but it is minor complaints given how good they were. The Tartar sauce, on the other hand, was spot-on. Perfect rich and creamy compliment to the crispy fish. Very well done.

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Comptoir 21 was a wonderful discovery in a area of town that I need to explore more thoroughly given my discoveries there so far (BU, The Sparrow, Lawrence). If someone were to ask me which I would pick between Comptoir 21 & Brit and Chips, I’m not sure I can really pick one over the other right now. Both are amazing options to go try and discover. If you’re looking for a place for a quick bite in Mile End, give Comptoir 21 a moment of your time. It certainly won’t end up being your last time.

Cheers!

Comptoir 21
21 Saint-Viateur Ouest
514 507 3474

Comptoir 21 on Urbanspoon

Chez Boris

12 Aug

Quick hitter here. Woke up on Saturday morning with a strong desire to try something different on my way to the market so I decided to finally go try a place that has been on my radar all summer: Chez Boris.

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Chez Boris is in the Mile End district on Park Avenue between Laurier and Fairmount and their speciality is doughnuts. For 75 cents each, you can get amazing fresh made-to-order doughnuts coated in a variety of different options. For my first visit (and it certainly won’t be the last…), I got 2 sugar, one cinnamon and one raspberry. Each was perfectly cooked with a nice crisp exterior and a light fluffy interior which is all that you can ask for in a perfect doughnut.

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So you’re interested in something outside of the usual donut shop for a quick hit of sweet, give Chez Boris a shot. You won’t be disappointed. Also, any place that uses a SNES as a card holder deserves your attention 😉

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Cheers!

Chez Boris
5151 Parc Avenue
514 900 1965

Chez Boris 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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