Tag Archives: Old Port

Maggie Oakes

28 Jan

January in Montreal brings forth certain ideas to mind as Montrealers. For some, it is the %$?#ing snow and all that comes with it. For those who are looking to party, January means it is Igloofest. And for those of a more food specific point of view, January means Happening Gourmand is back in the Old Port. In its 11th year, Happening Gourmand is a event run by the Antonopoulos Group where they offer a discounted table d’hôte in their 9 Old Montreal restaurants. Basically MTL à Table but only theirs. Interesting enough as it is a chance to check out some interesting spots in the Old Port at a price that you don’t get to enjoy often in the Old Port. For the occasion of the birthdays of a couple of dear friends, we found ourselves at Maggie Oakes for dinner – curious what we would get for our money.

Maggie Oakes is located on a prime spot in Place Jacques-Cartier on the first floor of the William Gray boutique Hotel. It is apparently inspired by American bistros and steakhouses and strongly focuses on dry aged meats. Visually, the space is worthy of the Old Port. Very glamorous look – a mixture of marble, walnut and brass with a clear glass dry age meat cooler and wine cellar as well as a green wall where they appear to grow fresh herbs and micro-greens. The space is rather large but surprisingly wasn’t too noisy despite us being present on a busy Friday night.

For Happening Gourmand, we had access to a three course meal for 31$. We could still order extra off the regular menu so we started with some fresh Raspberry point oysters. Nice, fresh and a little salty – perfect start to the night.

For starters, we tried both options available. First was a butternut squash soup served with crab salad and fresh herbs. Nice creamy texture with a surprising kick of spice to it. I really enjoyed the addition of the crab to mix. The butternut squash flavour came through nicely although I didn’t get that hint of caramelized sweetness I was expecting.

Next was the smoked duck tartare with candied orange, peppers and pickled vegetables. Classic presentation and very well done overall. The duck was beautiful – its inherent fatty richness perfectly showcased here. I liked the use of the candied orange to add that nice sweetness that works so well with duck.

For mains, I first went with the handmade cavatelli served with wild mushrooms, cream sauce, tarragon and pecorino cheese. Excellent pasta dish. The pasta was cooked well and the cream sauce had the right mix of richness without being overwhelming. The mushroom added some nice earthiness and the pecorino a hint of sharpness. Very enjoyable.

My fiancé went with the slow cooking beef short ribs served with roasted Jerusalem artichokes and mashed sweet potatoes. The meat was perfectly fall off the bone good. Tender and very flavourful. The roasted veggies and the sweet mash are classic pairs with braised beef so of course they worked very well here.

For the last course, we had two options and tried both. Neither one really wowed us… especially compared to the previous courses. The raspberry cheesecake – a cream cheese mousse with vanilla, almond biscuit and raspberry confit – looked beautiful and tasted fine but didn’t leave much of a mark.

The chocolate cake – a chocolate biscuit with creamy dark chocolate and cream mounted chocolate milk – came off as dry. The cream was excellent but if the base isn’t solid, that doesn’t really matter.

Maggie Oakes was for 2 courses out of 3 a very pleasant surprise. The quality of food as well as the quantity was excellent and made for a great meal. The dessert course brought things back down to earth but overall, I can definitely recommend Maggie Oakes if one is looking to spend a nice evening in the Old Port. You will definitely be in the heart of the action.


Maggie Oakes
426 Place Jacques-Cartier
514 656 6000

Maggie Oakes Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Le Bremner

22 Feb

A quick story if I may: My first visit to Chuck Hughes’ restaurant Garde Manger was a defining experience for me food wise . We went as a family for my birthday (I think for my 20th) and I just fell in the love with the place. While the overall evening didn’t necessarily work for everyone at the table, everything about it worked for me. The look. The atmosphere. The awesome music. The crowd. And of course the food. Garde Manger showed me the kind of awesome experiences we here in Montreal are lucky to have and appreciate. It opened up a restaurant scene I didn’t really know existed back then – places that 20-somethings can enjoy great high end food in a environment that speaks to them. Garde Manger became one of my favorite restaurants that night and remains so today. I constantly remind myself that I need to go back more often. After Chuck and his partners opened up Le Bremner in 2011 a little further east on St-Paul St., I have been pinning to go. Last Friday, that opportunity finally presented itself.



The restaurant maintains a very similar feel to Garde Manger – non-descript facade, quite easy to miss if you were to walk by. Once inside, a bar on one side and a small seating area on the other. The space emphasizes the beautiful exposed stone & brick walls, the wooden tables and nautical theme pieces with some low lighting, funky accents (skater stickers all over the room ACs) and amazingly great music mix. Any restaurant that plays Jay-Z and Sublime’s “Santeria” in the same evening is alright by me.




Compared to its older brother, Le Bremner has a smaller menu and one very focused on seafood of all varieties. If you don’t like seafood, you probably shouldn’t bother eating here. Just come have a drink instead. To start off with, the table shared a couple of different entrees. First up, there was the snowcrab kimchee served on crispy rice cakes. Great use of the snowcrab to enhance the spicy kimchee in an unique way. It didn’t much for the rice cakes but they added a nice crunch to the dish.


Next up, the fluke and mayo chicharron with crispy chicken skin. Very nice dish that I had never had before. Rich and creamy with the nice added crunch of the crispy skin. Given my lack of knowledge about this dish, I don’t have much to critique here.


The shrimp and cornbread was the final entree. Great combination. The warm cornbread was wonderfully dense but not dry which is always my concern with cornbread. The shrimp was well seasoned and the whole dish had a nice sweetness to it. The items worked well separately but even better together.


For mains, the rest of the table shared the lobster pizza. Imagine a pizza with lobster meat, cheese and lobster bisque as sauce. Then add a egg in the middle. Yeah… I know. Stop drooling. This pizza was love for all things lobster. The bisque added a whole other level of richness to your standard pizza. I could have eaten the whole thing my self but I needed to save some space for this…..


Octopus and braised veal cheeks with fingerling potatoes, chipolini onions and fried coliflower. Once again, this was a dish where each item was great by itself but the combination made it that much better. The Octopus portion was huge and absolutely grilled to perfection. When you add to that the fatty goodness from the braised cheeks, the crispness of the fried colliflower, the sweetness of the onions and the starchiness of the potatoes, you have a perfectly well balanced dish that covers the gamut of textures and flavors. Simply a marvelous dish.


And yet, after all that, we still had dessert to get to. First, pancakes with sucre à la creme and pimm’s butter. Thick and fluffy pancakes with sucre à la creme at 11:30 pm, what’s not to like? I had originally expected a crepe but was pleasantly surprised when the dish hit the table.


And lastly, we ordered the chocolate pot de creme with peanut butter cream and salted caramel. The chocolate and peanut butter creams formed a rich, creme version of a Reese’s cup – never a bad thing. The only issue was the lack of presence of the salted caramel – could barely taste it. That would have taken the dessert over the top but alas…..


This was a meal that I had waited for a long time and it absolutely did not disappoint. An enjoyable 2 and a half hour meal in the old port that has me wanting more. Garde Manger holds a special place in my restaurant Rolodex but Le Bremner has found its way close to that level. I will most definitely be visiting again…. I only hope it doesn’t take me this long between visits ever again.


Le Bremner
361 St-Paul East
514 544 0446

Le Bremner on Urbanspoon

Le Gros Jambon

26 Nov

My work schedule is not one that provides opportunity to try out lunch spots during the week and certainly not ones downtown so when I get a chance, I really need to jump on them. Taking advantage of a recent Friday vacation day, I made my way to the old port for a long overdue visit to the Gros Jambon diner. This is a diner in appearance through and through – from the long narrow space, to the counter with open kitchen, to the retro 70s style decor and, given my arrival during the lunch rush, the full occupancy with a lineup at the door.




The diner’s claim to fame is its typical diner fare but with a twist. Burgers, grilled cheese, fries, poutine, Mac n’cheese, hot dogs, BLTs and sandwiches. All the classic. However, classics don’t include things like lobster, duck confit, coca-cola mayo, fried pickles. Those are the elements that make this diner unique. I went in prepared to order their coca-cola burger which I wanted to try during MTL Burger Week this past summer but didn’t get around to it. However, after talking withers waitress, I switched to the duck confit grilled cheese. Given my hatred of pickles (I know, I know… Just ignore that statement and let’s move on), she advised that I skip the burger since that was its main selling point. I appreciated the honesty and ended up really enjoying my choice.


There is really nothing that makes a grilled cheese as well as a flattop. Just a perfect crisp on the bread with the proper gooey cheese center enhanced by the duck confit. Add to that very nice crispy fries with some coleslaw and you get a delicious, rich and decadent lunch. Exactly what you want and except from a diner style establishment.


Added to that dish, I ordered a warm apple and cranberry cider and a apple bourbon doughnut. The cider was quite good – a nice balance between the apple and cranberry. The doughnut was a bit of a disappointment – much more bourbon than bacon. It felt like the bacon was just there to say there was bacon. It didn’t feel essential to the flavor profile of the doughnut.


All in all, Le Gros Jambon was a good experience and certainly a place I want to go back to to try other items on the menu. If you are in the old port and looking for a quick but delicious lunch, you should certainly consider giving this diner a shot. I simply wished I worked a little closer so I could give it more consideration more regularly.



Le Gros Jambon
286 Notre-Dame Ouest
514 508 3872

Le Gros Jambon on Urbanspoon

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