Tag Archives: Porchetta

Bishop and Bagg

14 Apr

The Burgundy Lion guys opened a new pub even closer to my apartment. That’s pretty much all I needed to hear in order to run over and check out Bishop and Bagg. Located in Mile End on the corner of Clark and St-Viateur where an Italian café used to be, this English pub is right along my regular spring/summer bike path to and from the Market, so this could get very hairy for me as the warm weather rolls around. I was very excited to see in what ways this spot would differ from the Lion which continues to be my favourite pub in town.

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Bishop and Bagg is a smaller, more intimate place when compared to the Burgundy Lion. Part of that is the smaller floor space so less people in the pub but also the overall vibe – there are no TVs and the music is more ambient compared to the Lion’s higher decibel count (which is the one thing that is starting to bother me about the Lion – now scratched off the possible date spot list as conversation is basically impossible). The use of dark burgundy colours, old framed pictures and the old school wood bar really give it an authentic British pub look – perhaps even more than the Lion itself.

The other interesting aspect of Bishop and Bagg is how they seek to mimic a true pub experience through the service – there are no waiters per se. Everything is done at the bar – you order all food and drinks through the barman via your table number and it is sent to you as ready. Each “round” is added to a table tab and then you divide up the damage later on. Definitely a different take for a pub and one that I am curious to see how well it works on busier nights (I will have to do my research…). Either way, it creates a more relaxed vibe that is enjoyable.

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The drink menu will be familiar to anyone who frequents the Burgundy Lion – same varieties of beer with a few different cocktails showcased here. Pleasant surprise when I walked in – my favourite bartender from the Lion has made the move over it would appear, so I knew the cocktails would be on point. My multiple Boulevardiers (Bourbon, Campari and Sweet Vermouth) proved I wasn’t mistaken.

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As for the food, it is certainly not what one would call classic pub cuisine but Bishop and Bagg doesn’t aim for that anyway. Their website states that this is a “pub with great food”, one that isn’t traditionally British but what they call country pub inspired. All right then. First, we grabbed some small snacks – hickory styx and some spiced nuts with rosemary. Nice snacking options to go with some drinks – I was particularly enjoying the spiced nuts which had the right hint of rosemary on top of the other spices going on. The hickory styx were a nice alternative to basic chips.

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As main dishes, we tried two different ones. First up, lamb kebabs served on pitas with some tzatziki sauce, lettuce and vegetables. Nice favours across the board here – the lamb was cooked properly, the sauce added nice creaminess without overpowering the rest of the dish and the vegetables were nice & fresh.

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The second dish was porchetta with grilled escarole and white beans. Loved this dish – the fattiness of the porchetta, one of my favourite meat preparations, paired with the grilled escarole, the white beans, some parsley and a little onion as well. If you had told me this is what I would be eating at a pub, I would have probably laughed at you. This dish would seem much more at home in a different setting but it totally works. Well done all around.

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Loved my initial visit to Bishop and Bagg. Great food, great drinks and an awesome atmosphere – I cannot wait to go back shortly, especially knowing terrasse weather is on its way and as such, that little terrasse will be open as will the garage door windows. I may not go to the Burgundy Lion as often this summer but no worries to the ownership group, I will still be a frequent customer… just elsewhere.

Cheers!

Bishop & Bagg
52 St-Viateur O.
(514) 277-4400

Bishop & Bagg on Urbanspoon

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Impasto

6 Oct

After a few months of waiting, I finally had the chance to check out the Italian restaurant everyone is talking about right now – Impasto. This small space, located in the heart of Little Italy and only a short walk from the Jean Talon Market, was born of the collaboration between Michele Forgione (formerly of Osteria Venti) and Stefano Faita, host of CBC’s In the Kitchen. Impasto aims to provide great Italian food with no shortcuts – almost everything is made in house. Walking into the space, that level of craft permeates even the decor. Beautiful open kitchen with wood panel walls, leather banquettes, terrazzo floors, Pelligrino bottles lining the ceiling and just enough lighting to really brighten up the room. I sat down with a Negrini in hand, ready to enjoy a wonderful meal with a group of friends.

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First up, we have the Insalada di Moscardini – baby octopus, fennel, potato and red onion salad. A beautifully balanced salad. The freshness of the fennel combined nicely with the bite of the red onion, the starch of the potatoes and the fatty octopus. Add a little olive oil and some herbs and you had a great starter to the meal.

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The other starter I got to try was the housemade Apulia style sausage with pan seared rapini and apple vinegar. Great texture to the sausage as well as great flavour. The combination of the rapini and the apple vinegar adds some nice acidity to the fatty sausage. I know rapini isn’t everyone’s thing but I personally love it so that worked for me.

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The next course was the pasta course. I went for the ricotta gnocchi with basil infused tomato sauce. This dish is probably Chef Forgione’s speciality and I had heard so much about it that I wasn’t sure it could meet my expectations. Well….. it blew them out of the water. The slow pillowy texture of each morsel. The rich ricotta flavour. I have never had gnocchi that literally melt in your mouth like these ones did. Lightly tossed with a simple but very flavourful tomato sauce, this was pretty much the best pasta dish I have had all year almost without saying. Bravo Chef!

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I also got to try another pasta dish – the mafalde with rabbit ragu, chicory and olives. The mafalde pasta itself was wonderful – great texture, indicative of people who know how to make great in-house pasta. The combination of the rabbit ragu with the chicory made for very earthy notes – a nice contrast to the richness of the ricotta gnocchi I had previously.

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For the next course, I went with Nonno’s porchetta roast served with a vanilla pear, pan seared rapini and some candied fruits. This was an amazing roast – deliciously rich and fatty pork meat with crispy skin. The skin wasn’t the crispest I’ve ever had but still wonderful. The inclusion of the vanilla pear and the candied fruits provided some sweetness to balance with the inherent saltiness and fattiness of the roast itself. I love porchetta and Impasto’s take just reinforced my love.

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For dessert, we went with the Tiramisu and the chocolate tort cake. I’m not a big fan of Tiramisu due to my hatred of coffee but this one was milder in terms of the coffee taste and had a wonderfully smooth texture. The chocolate cake had more of a brownie texture – very dense but still moist. Very well executed.

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This was a great meal all around. Impasto aims for great Italian food and they hit on all the notes. As a party, we did find the service to be slightly slow in terms of bringing water and taking wine orders but it is a minor quibble. Now, the menu changes seasonly and ironically enough, they just changed the menu for the fall so you won’t be able to try the dishes I described above. However, that should not stop you from going menu unseen. I have no doubts you will be as satisfied as I was. Now, I just want to go back to see what Chef Forgione and company have in mind for the current season.

Cheers!

Impasto
48 Dante
514 508 6508

Impasto on Urbanspoon

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