Saturday, 31 May 2014

May Round Up

Eeeeek, I’ve neglected my blog.  Apologies.  It’s been all go.  A whirlwind trip to London during which I was Maid of Honour at my sister’s wedding, it was one of the best days of my life, it, and the trip, when far too quickly. 

So, here’s a quick round up of things I ate in May before I head off.

Love love loved Biiru, went for an impromptu dinner on one of the first really hot summer days in Montreal.  I am beginning to see what people meant when they spoke of a seasonal transformation.  It has really come alive now the snow has gone, and I’m falling for the charm of the place.  Anyway. 

Biiru is a recent opening in the Downtown area and it’s great.  An Izakaya, it’s the kind of menu that’s really difficult to pick from, they have ramen, yakitori, sushi, japadogs etc. etc.  In London these things are generally offered at separate restaurants.  I like to know where I am with a menu. 

I opted for the mushroom and truffle okonomiyaki ($14) and chicken thigh yakitori ($6) and both were brilliantly done.  I wish I’d been braver with the yakitori and had hearts or livers, next time.   

I also got to try the agedashi tofu and the sesame edamame, always winners.

1433 Rue City Councillors
Latin Quarter

Biiru on Urbanspoon

Had a speedy 3 courser here with a work buddy.  Lovely corn soup with chunks of chorizo inside to start and paella for main.  Some weird fruity thing for pud which I didn’t like but for $22 it’s an after thought. 

I blagged my way onto a table in the heaving dining room with no booking.  It’s really popular here, solid unfussy cooking.  Better for lunch than dinner due to the excellent value of the offer.  It's round the corner from my office, I'll definitely be back, vibe is workers with clients on lunchbreak. 

438 McGill Ave
Old Montreal

Restaurant Helena on Urbanspoon

I tried this place with Grace, Patrick and Margharita one Sunday.  Really enjoyable ‘middle Eastern’ mezze type menu with small sharing plate.  Cold dishes only early in the day and a fuller menu available for dinner.  Hummus was as good as expected.  

Cheese plate with rose water jam and the mouhammara, a dip containing ground walnuts with pomegranate molasses, were the highlights.

There are olives and unlimited flat breads.  The beetroot dip was excellent too.  Cheap lunch, I think we paid around $30 each and outstayed our welcome.  Everything is well spiced and fragrant.  The earthenware dishes are nice, the service lovely and the room open and airy.  I think they have belly dancing nights, too so I’ll obviously be back.

4629 Park Avenue

Kaza Maza on Urbanspoon

A few of us took a holiday weekend road trip to the Ontario wine region.  I did a bit of research and found Trius Winery to be the most lauded eatery in and around Niagara-on-the-Lake.  I booked us in for the tasting menu with wine pairings on the Saturday night.  The gewurtztramier was the stand out wine of the night, surprise surprise, always a fave of mine.  The size of their wine glasses was astonishing, one used to serve a red fit an entire bottle, we made them test it.  Some of the dishes I had.

 Frozen lollipop canape, beetroot and chocolate. 
Can't pretend I liked starting the meal with chocolate.

Chicken wings with scallops on a sweetcorn puree, very nice.

 Dish of the night was the beef fillet with heritage carrots.  Lovely.

Highlight of the evening was a drunken cellar tour.  They were ever so nice, and patient with us.  The food wasn’t great to be honest, some fails, including a cold hard boiled quails egg with asparagus and balsamic, and the desserts were too frozen to cut with a spoon, but this is wine country, just go there for the wine.  5 course tasting menu was $75 and the showcase (not just any old) wine pairings was $45 each.  45 DOLLARS!!  So good.

Trius Estate
1249 Niagara Stone Rd  

Trius Winery Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 22 May 2014


I've been to my first new restaurant opening in Montreal.  This is momentous due to the fact that as many as 90% of my London blog posts were about meals at new restaurants.  So, it's less happening that London, obviously, but there are interesting places popping up here if you know where to look for info.

Majestique was named one of the 12 most anticipated openings of 2014 by Montreal Eater, in fact it was top of the list.  The room is lovely, full of quirky little pieces and interesting light fittings, the long bar is inviting, there are casual tables at the front and booths for larger groups towards the back where the kitchen is located.  I liked the vibe, I read someone say it feels like you're in a sepia photo, it really does. 

The list of people behind Majestique reads like a who's who of the Montreal dining scene, Richard Holder and Charles-Antoine Crête, even I have heard of these guys!  Here's what we ate in the order it appeared.

Salade de Boeuf Mariné, légume croquante.
 Marinated beef salad with beets.  Really nice, small for $14. 
Marinade didn't deliver much flavour.

This was one of their specials, morels, bacon and fiddleheads on toast.
I was so happy to see fiddleheads making an appearance but this was perhaps the 
blandest dish of all, only tasted the bacon really.

Another order from the specials, the crevette po boy style dog.
My favourite dish of the meal, crunchy veggies and a nutty topping.

This was also a special, when it arrived we thought it was soft shell crab.
We were wrong, it was quail.  We hadn't ordered it but ate it anyway.
It was a bit too boney to enjoy this way but the accompanying dip was lovely.

 The fries were actually brilliant, served with aioli and plenty of salt, woo hoo!

Needless to say, I was over excited about this one so was a tad disappointed.  There was a consistent problem with the food, it was all under seasoned.  Which is a real shame because the menu is really exciting, the usual Montreal favourites of tartare (yawn) and oysters (such a huge deal here) are offset by the appearance of dishes like salmon confit brulee and whelks.

It was very early days though, and if this had not been the case, I would have loved the place.  It's open and serving food until 3am Monday-Saturday.  We definitely outstayed our welcome and were rewarded with free shots for our commitment to prosecco.  It's a really fun venue and I'll be back for drinks for sure.

We paid around $90 each, seems a lot but we were there from 6-1 and did drink all the prosecco, mostly from champagne saucers, happy days.  Cocktails were decent too.

4105 Boulevard St Laurent

ps. They're not on Urbanspoon yet, I've added them.  And grrr, their website is shit and you'll need to find details on their facebook page, still hating that.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Restaurant Park

Musing one evening about the foods we miss most from our respective homelands, one of my colleagues said he was struggling to find decent sushi in Montreal.  I remembered reading many many glowing reviews of Restaurant Park placing chef Antonio Park at the top of the list when it comes to sushi here.  It's pretty undisputed, he's has a license to import it himself, not sure where from but the sushi here is really very good.

Service was good too, couple of blips, like freaking out because there was a baby with us but mostly really friendly and helpful.  I added 2 to the party at very short notice and they were obliging.  We mostly went for the chef's Omakase menu, a tasting menu which changes daily.  Some of the table opted not to and they were cool with that.  It is by no means a cheap eat, the sushi set menu is $65 per person, plus tax, plus tip, plus drinks you're looking at $100 each.

The tasting menu began with a hot and sour soup which was brilliant.  My pictures on the whole are shocking, my picture of the soup is unusable but trust me it was a great start.  Next up came a little crab tian, with mango and supposed balsamic tomatoes.  There was no hint of balsamic.  Regardless, it was nice and fresh, I even enjoyed the mango, and I'm not a fan generally.

Then onto the nigiri selection, this was for 5 people, there was so much!  Best of all was predictably the fatty tuna, each had a different topping/garnish and the quality of the fish was excellent.  I didn't reach for a piece of ginger once as I wanted to taste each fish. 

Next up was one of these boards each, they were maki and they were huge, filled with salmon and tuna tartare and topped with enoki mushrooms, micro herbs and truffle mayo.  They were quite difficult to eat, I attempted to cut them up with my chopsticks, things got messy and I was getting full.  I left one.

The next course was my favourtite, the sashimi was exquisite.  Seared tuna, tuna, salmon, seabass, red snapper and sea bream, all amazing.  The dashi broth was cold but the actual best thing in the bowl (possible exaggeration) was the unripe truffled peach.  The small green fig looking thing.  It was incredible, a little tart and almost olive like in texture.

I didn't have room for dessert, I gave mine to one of my fellow diners who hadn't ordered the tasting menu.  We drank a lot of red wine and some cocktails, they have a kimchi martini on the menu, which I avoided, opting for the cucumber one instead.  I really liked the place and when I want sushi this is certainly where I'll be heading in future.  They also gave us free shots at the end of the night which is common here, yay, and rarely happens in London.

Restaurant Park
378 Victoria Avenue

Park Restaurant on Urbanspoon