Tag Archives: Veal sweetbreads

Hotel Herman

25 Mar

Special occasions require special settings. For the night of my girlfriend’s birthday, I wanted a lovely and refined experience with good service and atmosphere…. that also needed to be open on Monday. Not that easy given Monday is typically the Montreal restaurant off day! Looking through my options, I came to one that I had neglected from my to-visit list for a long time…. so off we went back to my favourite neighbourhood Mile End to go pay a visit to Hotel Herman.

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Located on Saint-Laurent just south of Fairmount, Hotel Herman is a pretty unassuming restaurant from the outside and similarly inside. The space is focused around a beautiful U-shaped bar in the middle of the room. Small tables all around that and the open kitchen in the back so you can see the staff in action. No big visual flourishes on the walls. Lighting is low and the music is of the smooth jazz and soul variety so the general feeling of the room is relaxed but intimate. On this particular Monday, it was very quiet – much to the surprise of our waitress who stated that normally they get 70 people on Mondays but they only had 20 on this night! I can imagine the atmosphere being more energetic normally but this was very suitable for my girlfriend and I on this celebratory evening.

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Drink-wise, I was in the mood for a cocktail, so I went with their Penicilline – scotch, honey and ginger. A nicely balanced drink. The sweetness of the honey dulled the scotch enough for my girlfriend to find it enjoyable but still leaving me for the scotch smokiness that I love. We also had some lovely glasses of wine from countries I’ve never associated with wine – Czech Republic and Greece. My girlfriend originally ordered a different wine which, after our waitress served it, she came back less than 5 minutes later and switched it – stating she wasn’t happy with it. My girlfriend hadn’t really been bothered by it but much appreciation to a staff that cares enough about those details. Throughout the night, the staff was friendly and sharp. Attentive but not overbearing which can be easy on the nights where there is no one in the room.

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The dishes at Hotel Herman are of small-to-medium size with emphasis on doing ingredients in different ways on the plate. Our first starter was trout served in a gravlax-style with onions, beurre blanc and crispy seaweed. This first dish told me everything about what to expect from Hotel Herman – beautiful presentation, simple in terms of number of ingredients but so subtle, so refined and lovely flavours. The trout’s texture was beautiful – firm but still delicate enough to come apart without much effort. Lovely smoked flavour that wasn’t too salty despite its preparation – much to my girlfriend’s satisfaction due to her hatred of salt. The inclusion of the sweet onions and the beurre blanc were nice compliments to the fish.

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Our second dish was beet root served two ways with juniper berries and hay. Another beautiful dish visually although we were not blown away this time tasting it. Flavours were nice but not wowing truthfully. I did enjoy the crispy thinner strips of beet texturally but my girlfriend was not as pleased by it. We also got some of the housemate bread with butter. The bread had a nice crunchy crust but the interior was soft and dense.

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For our mains, we started with the venison heart tartare with a porcini emulsion, spruce and breadcrumbs. Probably one of my favourite tartares ever. The use of the venison heart creates a more gamey flavour and texture. Also less fatty to taste. The binding felt minimal so there wasn’t a gooey texture either to the tartare and the toasted breadcrumbs added a nice crunch to the mix. We ate this dish up pretty quickly. A huge hit for both of us.

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Our other main dish was the veal sweetbreads served with parsnip gnocchi and mustard. Another excellent dish from the kitchen. The sweetbreads were nicely cooked and still had all that fatty goodness I love with sweetbreads. The real surprise to me here though was the parsnips gnocchi. A cool way to incorporate parsnips, the gnocchi had that strong earthy flavour of the parsnip all while keeping the pillowy soft texture one seeks in gnocchi.

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Dessert wise, we decided to split the honey tart served with sour cream and sponge toffee. Nice crispy buttery tart shell on the outside, I really liked the use of sour cream to cut the sweetness from the honey filling. The sponge toffee adds an extra texturally element to the dish. A nice way to finish off the meal.

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Safe for one dish, Hotel Herman met my expectations. There is a reason that this restaurant has been one of the best ranked in Montreal for three years and has made Canada’s top 100. There is a level of attention and detail present here throughout the entire service that leaves you feeling that you are in good hands. Great service, simple but nice decor and excellent food – Hotel Herman is another great restaurant that gives Montreal a good name food-wise.

Cheers!

Hotel Herman
5171 Saint-Laurent
514 278 7000

Hôtel Herman Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Liverpool House

4 Aug

There are certain restaurants that just speak to us. Everything, from the decor to the ambience to the music and of course the food, works within your sensibilities and creates a space that would go gladly go back to day after day if you could because it just feels right. Fred Morin and Dave McMillan created just such a place for me with Joe Beef. Since my original visit there last year (and further reinforced by my recent meal there this summer), I have always had their second restaurant (and neighbour a few doors down) Liverpool House on my “Must Check Out” list. Well, I finally got the chance with the family to see if the Morin and McMillan spell on me would continue.

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With our 9:30 reservation and the dim lighting, there wasn’t really the chance to take some interior pictures (and impacted the quality of my other pictures as well) but Liverpool House continues the casual and off-beat look that Joe Beef has in spades. Beautiful bar to enjoy a drink while a Steven Segal movie plays on a mini TV, wood panelled walls with large chalkboard menus, leather banquets and wood tables, a canoe on the ceiling, a mounted deer on the wall and way too many paintings of 18 wheelers. I simply cannot do it justice without images. All to say, I love it and the vibe it sets for the meal. Add some great alternative music and you’ve got me hook, line and sinker.

Before we even discuss the food, we must start with the cocktails. Liverpool House has a few house cocktails and I got to try 2 over the course of the evening. First, the Old Pal – basically their twist on a Negroni. A very bitter cocktail but one that I enjoyed tremendously. The second one was called a St-Vincent Sour – their play on a Whiskey sour but using Bourbon and maple syrup instead. Love the overall balance of this cocktail – very smooth with a slight touch of sweet and no bitterness. Complete 180 to the Old Pal in every sense. I definitely will be playing with that combination of ingredients at home shortly.

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As a appetizer, I went with their “Beer Cheese” dish – a mixture of blue cheese, cream cheese and goat cheese with some beer and other spices which becomes a spread served with marinated vegetables and some grilled toast. A very solid cheese blend that balances itself quite nicely. The cream and goat cheeses lent a nice smooth creamy texture while the blue cheese added a bit of kick but not enough to overwhelm the other elements of the spread. The marinated vegetables added a little vinegar to the party and the deliciously toasted bread served as the perfect platter for all of this. A great appetizer.

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On to the main. I decided to go for the veal sweetbreads with a mix of onions and Romesco sauce. Served on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes and some jus, this dish will make anyone who has issues with sweetbreads love them. Nice and crispy on the outside with a perfect soft and fluffy texture inside, the sweetbreads were cooked to perfection to truly showcase the natural fattyness they hold. The mixture of onions added some nice sweetness to the dish and the Romesco sauce (a Spanish nut and red pepper-based sauce for the un-initiated as I was that night) provided a little garlic kick and as well as a little sweet spiciness. This dish was returned completely picked clean – loved every inch of it.

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There was one other main course I tried as there was some leftovers at the table and that was the curry shrimps. The reason for some being left over is quite simple – the portion they serve is huge. Over a dozen large shrimp served in a curry mixture with spicy lentils, pilaf rice and a yogourt sauce. The sauce for the shrimp was nice and mild in terms of curry. I cannot say the same for the lentils – a little too much heat for my tastes, especially the after-taste. Thankfully the deliciously creamy yogourt sauce cooled my palette off quickly. Add a solid rice pilaf and you have a solid dish through and through.

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Finally we get to dessert. I went for the Apricot Financiers. Mini light and fluffy almond flour-based cakes with a hazelnut crust served with some cherries, apricots and house-made vanilla ice cream. Wonderfully executed dessert all around. I was a big fan in particular of the ice cream. Just a great depth of vanilla flavour on top of a velvety texture. A great end to a awesome meal.

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In the end, Liverpool House had me from the moment I walked in and never let go. The entire experience was wonderful and simply made wish I could come back more often (and believe me… if it weren’t for budgetary notions, I would be there and at Joe Beef pretty much monthly). If you have been to Joe Beef and enjoyed it, then you need to check out Liverpool House. If you haven’t been, then no worries. Just come down anyway and I am sure you will convert quite quickly. Now to go save more money to visit again soon….

Cheers!

Liverpool House
2501 Notre-Dame St W
(514) 313-6049

Liverpool House on Urbanspoon

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