Tag Archives: Un Chef à la Cabane

La Cabane d’a Coté

27 Mar

March means sugar shack season here in Quebec. So for the last few years, that has meant going to La Cabane au Pied de Cochon, Martin Picard’s spectacularly glorious shack up in Mirabel. It’s not traditional but frankly I want a great meal at a sugar shack which isn’t as easy to find anymore so I go a little on the crazy side. However, this year, for the occasion of my wife’s birthday, I decided to forgo that particular experience for its cousin, La Cabane d’à Coté. Located on the property just next door to Cabane PDC that they purchased last year, Cabane d’à Coté is a smaller, more intimate setting (about 40 seats) run by Vincent Dion Lavallée, Martin’s partner and formerly the head chef at the Cabane PDC.

La Cabane d’à Coté took over the old sugar shack on the property and uses the old evaporator as the cooking apparatus – heating with wood and using the flattops on top of the old evaporator to cook off of. It is a unique idea for a restaurant and creates a cool scene when you enter the restaurant as the kitchen is front and center. Other than one table, the rest of the common seating is situated in the rooms just off from the center kitchen space with views of either the maple forest on one side or the apple orchard on the other. It is a beautifully simple restaurant space which evokes a classic style (especially with the use of old style dishes and cutlery) but with some twists. Even though the space is 40 people tops, it goes get a little nozy but not so much that you can’t enjoy the eclectic mix of music through the evening – think 90s pop with classic quebecois.

Compared to the Cabane PDC, La Cabane d’à Coté’s menu is a table champetre which changes more frequently that the twice a year of the other shack. The restaurant is also open year round and doesn’t require the same reservation time – although it can still take some time to get a table. The menu is a 5 course fixed menu which they say is all you can eat but frankly we were so stuffed just with the portions they served us that I can’t imagine anyone asking for more!

The first course was composed of two dishes. First, a split pea soup with maple glazed duck meatballs, sour cream and cheddar cheese. Excellent soup that really evoked the classic hardy soup that I love but the addition of the maple glazed duck meatballs really gave it some more richness and a touch of sweetness that I enjoyed.

Paired with that was homemade raisin cinnamon bread grilled on the flattop served in a maple reduction and topped with foie gras, maple sugar and creme fraiche. An insane level of richness and sweetness that was glorious. To our pleasant surprise, the charred toasted notes that comes from grilling over the wood really came through. Quite a start of our meal.

The second course was a more subtle affair. Of the four dishes we got for this course, there were two big hits. First was the raw scallops served with fermented cabbage and cream sauce. The scallops were sliced thinly and beautiful. The acidity of the fermented cabbage paired very nicely as well.

The other big hit was the thinly sliced white ham served with bacon and bacon over a base of apple butter. Coming from the hams the group raises on the property, the ham was so good. Beautiful texture and great flavour. The apple butter underneath was a rich and sweet treasure as well.

We also got mini buckwheat pancakes served with maple syrup and a salad of endives prepared in escabeche served with fresh sheep’s milk cheese. The pancakes were enjoyable but compared to the other dishes weren’t as special. I enjoyed the salad although my wife found the endives still too bitter for her liking.

At this point, we were already starting to feel full but we weren’t even halfway there! The next course brought two dishes. First, a sort of celeriac omelette served with smoked trout. A solid dish – the big standout was the chunk of smoked trout. Beautiful texture and flavour.

The other dish was a duck tartare of mushrooms, beets and crispy duck skin served over a Jerusalem artichoke puree. A really different tartare that I really enjoyed. I liked the use of the skin to add some different texture to the tartare. My wife doesn’t love duck so this was the dish we split opinion over the most over the course of the evening.

The fourth course was an all-meat affair. First was maple glazed grilled pork from the Cabane served with a cherry sauce. Simple but very well done. The quality of their pork in terms of flavour and texture comes through and the sweetness of both the maple and the cherries paired perfectly.

The second dish wasn’t as successful sadly – quail stuffed with duck meat served in a minestrone soup. The quail meat was excellent. The issue for both of us was the soup which clearly got an extra kick of vinegar but so much so that all we got flavour wise was vinegar. The big disappointment for us on the night.

The last dish of this course made up for it however – rabbit and chicken pot pie served with maple carrots. My favorite of the night. Beautiful presentation and great depth of flavour to boot. A great flaky crust, lots of meat and a beautifully rich but not heavy sauce to pair all of it together. Chicken pot pie is one of my childhood favorites so this dish evokes much love for me.

Finally….. we get to dessert! Some how we found a way to eat all 5 desserts they brought us 😉 The ricotta doughnuts served with maple dulce de leche were solid and enjoyable. The praline and sunflower seed ice cream was a very pleasant surprise that we both loved. The Baba served with haskap berries (camerise in French) and cranberries syrup topped with maple pastry cream and whipped cream was the most visually appealing of the group. Flavour-wise, the cake was a little heavy but the fruit syrup and the maple elements paired beautifully together with it. The most unique dessert was the frozen apple poached in maple syrup served with fresh cream. The apple’s texture was very unique in this preparation and of course, apples and maple pair so well together.

And lastly, as this is a sugar shack after all, we got some fresh maple taffy which was served to us through a hidden compartment in the table which allows them to bring snow into the restaurant to pour the maple syrup over. Very cool element and of course the perfect end to a sugar shack meal.

La Cabane d’à Coté continues the excellent tradition of the Cabane PDC and turns it into a more intimate, less bombastic experience. There is still excess – it’s a Martin Picard venture after all – but chef Vincent finds a way to make it slightly more refined and subtle. I would love to come back in the summer time to see what Vincent would do with all the fresh produce they produce on the property without the sugar shack trappings. This was a wonderful night and definitely worth visiting again.

Cheers!

La Cabane d’à Côté
3595 Montée Robillard

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