Here are my eating highlights from both London and Montreal over the last 5 weeks (confess some late May eats have crept in here as I was too busy getting the Kid wed to blog).
Em and I head to Nopi for brunch after a ridiculously early morning screening of Maleficent at Leicester Sq Odeon. I had the Shakshuka with spicy tomato sauce and smoked Labneh.
There was a lot of red pepper to contend with, I confess I’m not the hugest fan of red peppers, sometimes they disagree with me, but everything was perfectly cooked, most importantly the eggs. Runny yolks, yes. I hate when they’re overcooked, I’m looking at you Caravan on Exmouth. Great bread and a decent flat white too. Not the cheapest brunch and front of house seemed outraged we’d not booked a table. Weird WEIRD mirrored toilets, really quite disturbing.
21-22 Warwick St
Fast forward on the same day and Art and I drank a shitload of wine and needed to soak it up with some cheese and meat. I just didn’t have time to fit in a full meal here, which is a shame as I would have loved to, particularly based on the quality of these boards.
Wines are all organic, you can buy bottles to take away and the bread is the talk of the town, really very good. Menu is overseen by Mikael Jonsson of Hedone fame, so no wonder it’s good. We probably spent around £40 each, but were there for most of the afternoon and had a couple of bottles of wine.
12A Newburgh St
One Leicester Street – Leo’s Pop Up
Fast even further forward, still the same day (oof) and we had dinner at One Leicester St. It was the last night of a 3 month long pop up which saw Leandro Carreira (ex- Viajante chef) take over the kitchen Thur-Sat.
It was a communal affair with guests sharing a 7 course tasting menu for £88, wine pairings included. Highlight was the iberico presa with baked beets and the langoustine with honey carrots. Really fun night, obviously not something you can enjoy yourselves (unless you went) but keep an eye out for Leo’s next venture.
One Leicester St
Erm, 1 Leicester St
Bel and I head back to our old fave the Berner’s Tavern for my last night in London. We lashed right out and got the chateaubriand for 2 with foie gras, roasted baby artichokes and truffled mac and cheese.
There is so much good stuff going on with this dish, it’s just incredible. So much truffle. It’s really rather good value at £80 for two. We drank Prosecco, obvs and stopped off in the Punch Room. Love and miss this place sooooooo much. Well done Jason.
10 Berners Street
Another old fave I had to make time for was Koya Bar, Nibs and I popped in for lunch and both opted for the special udon which was poached chicken in soy milk broth with sesame. It was really simple and clean, as all their dishes could feasibly be described. We shared the mackerel sashimi also from the specials board, I always always order their specials, they’re so interesting. Miss you Koya.
50 Frith St
Also popped in for a Bull & Last bloody mary and Sunday roast combo with Bel which saved me after the Kid’s hen do! They really know what they’re doing with a bit of beef. Lemony pud was really good too. We lurked about for the pub quiz then hit Aces & Eights, classic NW5 Sunday.
118 Highgate Road
On my first Saturday back I met Sarah for lunch at Café Melbourne. I remember walking by this place in February when I visited, it was approx. -15 and I was slipping all over the place in the snow, determined to have a wander about and get a bagel from Fairmount. What a difference a few months makes, it was a boiling hot day, we sat in the window and ordered coffee and ‘jaffles’.
Jaffle meaning Aussie toastie, think Breville. I got the mac daddy, of course, filled with actual mac cheese and served with a nice bit of pickle and some ready salted crisps. The big concern with toasties is usually that they’re so hot they burn, but I found the opposite was true of this one, the second half was barely warm when I got to it, perhaps I was chatting too much. Good coffee though and they had a Donna Hay magazine in there and good world cup banter.
Speaking of the world cup, I watched an England match at Bishop & Bagg an English inspired ‘pub’. In inverted commas because it’s absolutely not a pub, but they’re trying! They have an English menu too, curries, a ploughman’s, kebabs.
I had the lamb kebabs which look an absolute mess here but were really very good. Reports of the ploughman’s were along the lines of don’t do it to yourself. I sound negative but I actually really like the place, and I live near it now, woo! Apols for the shocking photo, finger included so you could see the wrap, pitta type thing.
52 Rue St Viateur Ouest
Another greaso lunch with Sarah, this time close to work, Le Gros Jambon appears on this list of the best Mac & Cheese to be found in Montreal, so I had the chicken tacos. Need to go back for the mac cheese, newsflash - it’s almost too hot to eat macaroni cheese. It’s upsetting, and I need to stop moaning about/talking about/checking the weather.
The chicken tacos with a side salad were my attempt to make a healthier choice at this diner. Really liked them actually. Nice guacamole, sour cream and salsa accompaniments, and it was served individually on a tray for your own construction. I rather like that.
Cute, kitschy décor and cheap, about $12.
286 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest
One Saturday evening a group of us went to Nora Gray, a restaurant opened by an ex-Joe Beef chef and front of house duo. It comes highly recommended by food people so I was super excited and it proved to be the best meal I’d eaten so far in Montreal (until my birthday meal at Liverpool House, but more on that soon).
My starter was cavatelli with tomato, anchovy and fennel. The pasta was perfect, all home made and great value at $12 for a bowl. Love Italian meals where it’s the done thing to eat pasta as a starter, they are genius.
Again, shocking picture but it's very dark in there, all candle light and orange. I couldn’t resist the special main, pork belly with turnips and polenta. It was sooooooo good, around the $30 mark. We drank a load of red wine and left very very happy. It’s a slightly odd area of the city, Griffintown, up and coming allegedly, but it feels like it’s out in the sticks with very little else around it. Worth the trek though for sure, I’ll be back, they're awesome.
1391 Rue St Jaques