Tag Archives: MTL à Table 2013

La Fabrique

27 Nov

Sometimes the closest restaurants to you are the ones you never check out. They sit on your “to visit” list and get ignored. Be it because you forget about them or get distracted by other places. This year’s taste MTL allowed me to finally eliminate one such place from my list – La Fabrique Bistrot. Situated in front of St-Louis Square and a short walk from my neighbourhood, this open kitchen concept restaurant makes quite the impression when you walk in. The kitchen right in the middle of the room, beautifully wood panelling all around and tons of lighting accents. It creates a very inviting and rustic feel all without losing the fine dining element.

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For taste MTL, they were offering a 39$ menu that combined regular menu items with some other options. They also offered a wine pairing option for an additional 27$ for each of the meal. My dining companions and I went with this option and were satisfied with the selections – particularly the Muscato I received during the dessert course.

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Prior to the actual menu, we received a small bowl of squash, corn and nut soup as an amuse-bouche. Nice and rich, we were pleasantly surprised by the addition of the corn and the nuts. The corn provided some sweetness and the nuts a little salt on top of the texture additions both provided. A nice starter to the meal.

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The 2 appetizers offered for Taste MTL were a beetroot, carrot and orange salad with horseradish cream and ratatouille in a terrine with Vitello tomato and foccaccia. The salad was wonderfully light and fresh with a strong kick from the horseradish to spice things up. The ratatouille terrine was a very unique concept that worked beautifully and the sauce provided a nice creamy component to mix with the terrine.

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The first main course was a slowly cooked pork with apple, squash, turnip and sweet potato sautéed with Papineau’s maple syrup and ginger. Perfectly executed, the pork just felt apart. The fattiness of the pork was augmented nicely with the sweetness of the maple syrup and the freshness of the vegetables in the dish. The addition of the cheddar on top added some nice sharpness as well. A very creative and delicious dish all around.

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The second main was salmon preserved in sunflower oil with miniature pepper, parsnip, onion and a carrot purée. The preparation here was a bit more straight forward compared to the pork dish but very well done. The salmon was perfectly cooked and the carrot puree was wonderfully sweet. The other vegetables were good but didn’t hit home as much as the puree.

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We also ordered an extra side of home fries as they are fried in duck fat and served with house ketchup. Duck fat always adds a little something extra to dishes and that was no exception here. The fries had just that little extra taste and bite which was nice. The house-made ketchup had a nice tanginess to it as well.

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For dessert, the options were French toast with clove caramel and fleur de sel or an apple and maple syrup in a homemade yogurt cream. The French toast was ridiculous – a thick cut slice of bread with a rich and cream caramel with just the right hint of salt to balance out the sweetness. The apple, maple and yogurt mixture was quite good as well but got quickly overshadowed by the French toast. And then, once the bills came, so did our final surprise dessert – house cotton candy! Nice, sweet and fluffy without that pesky stickiness which hampers handling. A very playful way to end a great meal.

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From beginning to end, la Fabrique was a great experience. Having the kitchen in the middle of the dining room is a cool hook to get you in but the great food and atmosphere are what will make you come back for more. It is nice to know I have another awesome restaurant a short walk over in my neighbourhood. Just another reminder to not ignore what you have close to you. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Cheers!

La Fabrique
3609 St Denis
514 544 5038

La Fabrique on Urbanspoon

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Pastaga

20 Nov

Over a year ago now, I visited Pastaga for a Sunday brunch and left with the strong feeling of needing to return for dinner. It took way too long but through Taste MTL, I finally did. For the uninitiated, Pastaga is the brainchild of chef Martin Juneau who, since opening this restaurant in 2012, has opened up Pub St-Joseph as well as the Mr. Crémieux food truck. Pastaga is a ode of nature wines as well as great food to pair with those wines. The food definitely has French influences at its core but branches out extensively in other food genres.

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Located on the relatively barren strip of St-Laurent just before little Italy but after Mile End, the restaurant is a small, simple space with mirror walls, misshapen wooden tables and ample lighting via power bars on the ceiling. The real beautiful touch is the bright red tilted kitchen that is visible in the back of the space. A glass wall blocks out the sound from the dining room but we can see everything going on. There is also a large table located in the kitchen for larger groups to enjoy if you can get it. Overall, it is a very cozy and comfortable environment to enjoy a meal in.

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I visited during Taste MTL where they were offering a 39$ menu of items off their current seasonal menu. Me and my dining companions ordered all of the options to try. First up, there was grilled Albacore tuna with braised fennel and citrus gel. The tuna was grilled to perfection. The braised fennel and the citrus were perfect compliments to the fish. A very nice start to the meal.

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Next up was marinated salmon with salmon jerky and a creamy potato salad. The salmon was, like the tuna, cooked perfectly. The potato salad was, as indicated, quite creamy with a strong hint of dill which paired very nicely with the salmon – bringing to mind a classic smoked salmon dish in terms of taste.

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The third main was a play on Jewish chopped liver with bagel chips, capers and hard boiled eggs. Now, I have never been a big fan of chopped liver. Despite my enjoyment of foie gras, the texture of Jewish-style chopped liver always created a roadblock for me. I went in with some apprehension but came out loving it. The texture of the liver was not an issue and had that great fatty flavour. The pickled onions brought some sweetness to that dish. The hard boiled egg was perfect and the bagel chips added that little bit of crunch and saltiness. A very well executed dish.

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The final main was, to me, the best thing we had all night – maple lacquered pork on a pancake with a parsnip salad. The pork and pancake combination was brillant – the right mix of sweetness, fattiness and starch. The pork, in particular, just fell apart without any effort. Great texture achieved by the kitchen staff there. The salad of parsnip added a little crispness and freshness so you felt a little better health-wise about eating pork, maple syrup and pancakes for dinner!

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For dessert, there were 2 options plus a cheese plate. The cheese plate was a goat cheese with candied nuts, apple butter and a mini cake loaf. The goat cheese (I forgot the name of it sadly) was quite good – soft but still firm enough to handle properly. The other 3 elements of the plate allowed you to add different levels of sweetness to pair with the cheese – the apple butter was a particularly wonderful surprise in terms of its strong flavour and consistency.

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In terms of desserts proper, we had the choice of a Mr. Crémeux Sundae with milk crumble and sous-vide Prunes or a raspberry cheesecake. The sundae was delicious. Anyone who visited the Mr. Crémeux food truck over the summer knows that Chef Juneau and company know how to make a great soft serve vanilla ice cream. The addition of sous-vide prunes provided some tartness and the crumble was nice and crunchy. The cheesecake was good as well – the texture was spot-on and the coulis was nice as well.

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Dinner at Pastaga met all of my expectations and more. Our waiter provided great service especially in terms of the wine pairings for each dish. You could tell he knew his wine list well. The food was wonderful across the board and the dining room itself relaxed and quiet enough to allow good conversation. This meal reinforced the notion that I waited way too long to stop by for dinner. I will definitely not make that mistake again… and I hope you don’t either.

Cheers!

Pastaga
6389 Saint Laurent
438 381 6389

Pastaga on Urbanspoon

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