Tag Archives: Pimm’s Cup

Manitoba

30 Aug

All throughout 2014, I kept hearing and reading great things about a new restaurant in the relatively obscure Mile-Ex neighbourhood – at least from a food perspective. A place that was doing some unique things in terms of local foraging and doing it in a cool setting. All of this talk made restaurant Manitoba one of the hit newcomers in 2014 and a place I dearly wanted to try out. After many months, I finally decided that I really needed to go before the summer was over so I made it a date night and brought my girlfriend along for what I hoped would a great experience for both me and her of course.

IMG_1296

IMG_1309

IMG_1297

Located in the old industrial neighbourhood of Mile-Ex – stuck in the middle of Little Italy and Parc Extension, Manitoba is very unassuming as you approach – simply a wood terrasse in front of a simple door and window. Once you enter, it is truly a space in keeping with its neighbourhood and its approach of food – Industrial and clean but with touches of nature. A gorgeous bar along the left side of the room all the way to the open kitchen. The use of wood trunks on the ceiling with the light coming through them. The all-black wall and blackboard menu. The back garden and terrasse space with patio lights all a-glow. The vibe is hip and cool.

IMG_1295

IMG_1300

IMG_1308

IMG_1304

IMG_1301

Service is attentive and friendly. It is surprising how I froze up at simply being asked if I’d had a nice day – not exactly what you expect from your waiter. Even the chefs were chatty and friendly as one of the sous-chef kindly answered our questions about some of the plants and herbs they use that we didn’t know too well. We did have a bit of an issue with the service of our cocktails – way too long between the order and arrival of them – but otherwise great all around from the staff.

IMG_1306

IMG_1307

After a quick discussion with our waiter, we decided to start with the deer heart gravlax served with cauliflower puree, corn, sunflower seeds, labrador tea oil and stonecrop. What an awesome way to start a meal. The rich gaminess of the deer heart was not lost in the gravlax process. Add the creaminess of the puree, the sweetness of the corn and the little crunch from the seeds and this was a great balanced dish.

IMG_1305

As a main dish, my girlfriend opted for the scallops from iles-de-la-madeleine served with lobster mushrooms, salicornia, green pea puree and emulsion. The scallops were nicely sized and wonderfully fresh with a beautiful sear all around. The beautiful lobster mushrooms brought a nice contrast to that freshness with their earthy tones. I was also very intrigued about the green pea puree and emulsion. An interesting bite of technique that maintained a strong pea flavour. Very good all around.

IMG_1303

In my case, I decided to order something I had never had before: Maple brulé bone marrow served with chokeberry, maïtake, swiss chard and toast. From my vantage point watching the chefs use a blowtorch to burn the maple sugar made me pine for this dish pretty quickly. Bone marrow was something I suspected I would enjoy and yeah… turns out I was right. Definitely won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but dear god did I love this. Rich and fatty with a great sweetness and crunch from the maple syrup, I could have had many many more. The chokeberry mixture on top added some tartness and then add in some wonderful toast to put the whole mixture on top of…. just wonderful. Simply wonderful. In my mind, a must-try if it’s on the menu.

IMG_1302

After those great dishes, we were then left to decide on dessert. We ended up going with both options of the evening. First was a honey, indian celery and black walnut cookie served with raspberry ice cream and lichen dipped in chocolate. The cookie had a nice crunch with subtle hint of both the honey and the walnuts. The ice cream was smooth and flavourful and the use of lichen was an interesting component to bring forth.

IMG_1299

The second dish was a spruce panna cotta with candied pumpkin seeds and wild blueberries. This was a very cool surprise. The texture you expect from panna cotta – rich and smooth – but the true surprise was just how strong the spruce came through. The combination of blueberry and pumpkin seeds were a nice pairing here as well. A strong finish.

IMG_1298

Manitoba was what a had hoped for – a great unique mixture of dishes in a cool looking and feeling restaurant. As we sat outside in the back garden with a glass of wine partway through our meal, I thought to myself “Yeah this is pretty great”. Pretty much says it all.

Cheers!

Manitoba
271 St Zotique Ouest
514 270 8000

Click to add a blog post for Restaurant Manitoba on Zomato

Advertisements

Pizzeria Magpie

7 Sep

After a great experience at GEMA (see my previous post for that rundown), I got another hankering for a pizza the following weekend. I got some friends together and planned to head back for a second try when I discovered that they were closed for summer vacation. Darn….. well we still had a desire for pizza, so where to go? Thinking about places nearby, I had a flash and remembered Pizzeria Magpie, located across the street from Chez Serge bar in Mile End. One of those places I have had on my never-ending list for a while but kept forgetting about. We drove up hoping they had room for 4 on a Saturday night and luckily for us, they did.

IMG_0293

First thing I noticed walking in was the overall look and vibe. A small intimate space overall with the open window in the front to give a little terrasse feel, low lighting, a beautiful dark bar on the side, the blackboard menus and the ceramic-tiled pizza oven visible to all – Magpie gives off a relaxed cafe/bar feel but with enough intimacy to be a solid date place and enough “edge” to be a cool place to bring friends for a happy hour or late evening meal. Loved it completely – this place goes on the possible date locations list (whenever the heck that ever happens again… but that’s a story for another day).

IMG_0285

For starters, we grabbed some of their cocktails to get the evening started. My friends selected the Pimm’s Cup and the Magpie Caesar. The Pimm’s Cup, served with some mint and cucumber, had exactly the kind of citrus and spice flavours you look for. Very refreshing. As for the Caesar, it certainly looked impressive – especially with the steak spice used on the lip of the glass, however I hate Caesars (yes… another thing to add to the list) so I didn’t try it. My friend certainly enjoyed it though. In my case, I went for the Dark and Stormy – dark spiced rum mixed with the house made ginger soda. Very nice balance between the sweet rum and the ginger.

IMG_0289

IMG_0287

IMG_0288

Before the pizzas came, I just had to order some oysters. On this evening, Magpie had 3 varieties – Conway Royals, Gooseberry Bay and Tresor and I asked for the mix of all three. Served with fresh horseradish, lemon and lime wedges, a mignonette and some hot sauce, the oysters were all of good size and shucked perfectly. Nice start to the meal.

IMG_0286

But really, the key here is the pizza…Magpie is a pizzeria after all. There are 9 regular pizzas available as well as a special of the day. Since we were four people, we decided to order four different ones and share them in order to try as many as we could. Before we address the topping options, let’s talk dough – the foundation of the whole thing. Magpie, using that beautiful wood oven over in the corner, do it pretty well. Had I not been to GEMA about a week prior, I may have said it was best in Montreal. After that experience, I would say it is very good but just a level below the best. The crust has a good levity and chewiness to it with a decent crispiness on the bottom, however to get the crunch, we end up having some burnt spots on the pizzas. I wouldn’t have had an issue with it before but if we are going to compare the best pizza joints in Montreal, we are now at that point…

Anyway, the first one up was the special of the day – a gravlax pizza with onions, tomatoes and dill. A very creative option – the gravlax itself was delicious and quite plentiful on the pizza. The fresh dill, tomatoes and onions work well with gravlax normally so of course it would work on a pizza. Loved the overall quantity of topping as well. An excellent out-of-box option which in my opinion is worth keeping around as a regular option.

IMG_0292

Next up was the goat cheese pizza with pancetta, arugula, basil and tomato sauce. Due to photographer error, I don’t have a picture of this one to share but regardless you get the picture anyway. Great combination of the creamy goat cheese with the salty rich pancetta to elevate this one past the traditional Margherita. Excellent pizza.

The third one was the prosciutto pizza with arugula, cherry tomatoes, bocconcini and tomato sauce. Another solid pizza – any pizza with prosciutto is good by me – although personally I felt that there was way too much arugula over top of this pizza which kinda made it overly peppered.

IMG_0290

The final pizza was the Bianca – with roasted garlic, spicy capicollo, cherry tomatoes, bocconcini and herbs. This is one spicy pizza – a little too much for my liking personally. I was quite surprised at just how much the capicollo overpowered everything else on this pizza. I also would have enjoyed a bit more cheese on this one. Good but my least favourite of the four easily.

IMG_0291

Pizzeria Magpie is a solid entry in the Montreal pizza scene – and by far the best in Mile End in my eyes. The cocktail and oyster combo with the relaxed and intimate atmosphere make it a perfect place for a quick bite or drink before a larger meal – and that is without taking the pizzas into consideration. They also do weekend brunch now which intrigues me tremendously. Not my first choice for a pizza but close enough – both in quality and in location – for me to definitely be back in the near future.

Cheers!

Pizzeria Magpie
16 Maguire
514 507 2900

Pizzeria Magpie on Urbanspoon

%d bloggers like this: