Thursday, 31 July 2014

July Round Up

My Canada Day celebrations included dinner at Le Club Chasse et Pêche.  This place has been mentioned a lot by locals as one of Montreal's top restaurant experiences.  I was surprised by how formal it felt, it's a small dark basement room, all leather and wood, it was a super hot day and the aircon was on full pelt, it's not the nicest environment to be honest.  But onto the food.

I made the stoopid mistake (again) of ordering a risotto for starter.  Portions in Montreal, North America, are out of control, so I should have known.  Piglet risotto topped with shaved foie gras($16) no less.  Ooooof.

My main was the chasse et pêche, sweetbreads with lobster and gnocchi ($40).  I was sooooo full.  The main was good, but the starter edged it.

I actually found the menu really difficult to choose from.  Though the waiter was brilliantly knowledgeable and helped inform us about all the dishes.  Some descriptions are very vague, chasse et pêche for example. Hunting and fishing....hmm. Oysters with charisma?  Please.   We drank German wine, because I usually insist that we do, it was great.  I'd definitely return, perhaps avoid the bread next time.
423 Rue st Claude
Old Montreal
Le Club Chasse et Pêche on Urbanspoon
Ridiculous picture but this is the best pizza I've had here so far.  Need to check out Gema obviously, but Magpie is the current front runner.  I had the goatscheese, pancetta, rocket and basil offering ($16).  We were a big drunken rowdy group, showed up late and this was just what we needed.  Pub then pizza.  Will 100% be back.  Service was lovely, except when they sprayed us all with cava.
16 Maguire
Pizzeria Magpie on Urbanspoon
I went to Lemeac earlier this year but didn't take pics.  On both visits I had the menu 22H which is served from 10pm until close, you can have a starter and a main for $25.  Right bargain.  This time I had the panko crusted goatscheese with apple and walnut salad to start.
Really generous portion (as is the theme in Montreal) and simple rustic dishes is the order of the day here.  I had a sudden urge for steak on this evening, I haven't found anywhere with meat the equivalent quality of the likes of Goodman and Hawksmoor in London.  Might start the search at Moishes, an Montreal institution apparently.  Anyway, Lemeac's hangar steak with fries hit the spot, thought I was well and truly beaten. 
They have really good baguette here, so I'd filled up on that.  Following the meal, we returned to Baldwin Barmacie, scene of a 9 dirty martini fuelled Saturday night.  I barely managed 2 on this occasion.  Definitely for the best. 
Really like Lemeac though and it's near my flat, wooo.
1045 Laurier West
Leméac on Urbanspoon
Revisited Biiru and tried their ramen and chicken liver yakitori.  The tomato salad was ace as well.  Also their cocktails.  Love this place.
I go here for lunch at least once a week, and they have a cheese croissant that has to make do in the absence of Pret.  Had a breakfast here before a spa day with the girls (thanks Sar!).  Was slightly hungover, couldn't resist the 'egg on your face' Panini.  Scrambly egg, sriracha, comte (YES - COMTE!) and tomato, all toasted and gooey.  Delightful. 
Bel and I went here for lunch the day after I got back.  LOVED IT!  Art claimed it to be the best souvlaki she's had in London, and it's certainly the best I've tried, though I'm no expert.  I went for pork, Bel went for lamb.  Every element was great, the bread, the meat, the yoghurt, tomato and onion.  I should have gone easy on the onion, regretted that all afternoon, ha. 

I'm sure Art would want chips in it, we got a side of feta and jammed some of that in.  Awesome.  Also they give you a complementary bread and tsatziki starter.  We drank tap water and paid about £8 each, bargain. 
21 Bateman Street on Urbanspoon
Bel and I had dins here last Friday after drinks in the new Clubroom at Bob Bob Ricard.  Let me begin by saying gorgonzola custard (£6) is a thing.  Just take a moment to look at it in awe. 

Served with brilliant seeded bread, it looks like a brulee type dessert, it's genius.  Get it, it's on the small plates menu served all day.

Zeppole (£4) were another favourite, these are like little dough balls stuffed with Nduja, again genius, love what they're doing here.  Crab and avocado was fantastic, served tien style with loads of lemon and bitter leaves sitting on top.  Really fresh and zingy flavours.  
Also enjoyed the octopus with chick peas and the anchovies and eggs.  There wasn't a disappointing dish.  We loitered (to the dismay of the waiters who very clearly wanted to leave) and sat outside finishing our prosecco.  Really enjoyable meal, I preferred it to sister restaurant 10 Greek Street actually.  Lucky East Londoners.  
8 Hoxton Square on Urbanspoon
Art and I popped into Rotorino for lunch on my last day in town. 
We started off with cocktails of orange infused fizz.  The menu is separated into first, second and third categories, we went for a couple of dishes from each.  Thin crispy bread type things splashed with olive oil were presented while we perused the menu.  Odd by themselves really but we ate them all.  They're good snacks for drinks I guess, but they're not bread, I'm not fooled.

From the first section we chose the peach, tomato and ricotta salad.  This was crying out for salt, which we had to ask for.  The tomatoes were brilliant, bit of a mushy consistency on the whole.  Not the greatest start, the croque n'duja was much better.  Really felt the kick of the spicy sausage, served on bread with a fried egg.  Lovely.

My second dish of mussel fregola was incredible.  A rich tomato sauce and an ample serving for £7.50, I really loved this.  Best dish of the day.  Art's gnudi were nice too but the fregola pipped it for me.
Then we had the pork and veal meatballs (£9.50) with a side of fried garlic and rosemary potatoes which were really nicely done.  We were beaten and couldn't face dessert, a theme of my trip to London, and overall were perhaps not as happy as we thought we would be. 

There were some standouts and we really lingered for the afternoon, the bar is open all day, My friend Carly came to meet us for some cocktails, we sat out front sipping on lemon possets and negronis into the early evening.  Really liked the place and the casual vibe, would definitely recommend the pasta dishes. 
434 Kingsland Road
Rotorino on Urbanspoon

The Palomar

I was keen to see what all the fuss was about at The Palomar during my next London trip so Nibs and I head there last Tuesday evening.  We hadn't booked so were expecting a long wait on the night as walk ins but were actually seated after about 10 mins, we'd just got our drinks.  Result!  

The waiter came to ask if we were ready to order after literally 2 minutes sitting at the bar.  I hadn't even glanced at the menu and Nibs was on the phone.  We told him we weren't, obvs, then he disappeared for about half an hour.  Didn't matter as we had plenty to catch up on, but I've heard similar reports from others. 

When the food started to arrive, were were chuffed to bits with what we'd ordered.  First up the bread.  OMG the bloody bread.   Kubanah (£5) actually, baked and delivered in a pot served with tahini and tomato sauces.  INCREDIBLE. 

This came at the same time as the Fattoush salad (£8), tomato, cucumber, onion and croutons with sumac, za'atar and labeneh.  Lovely and fresh. 

This beauty of a plate carried the seared scallops (£11.50) served with beurre blanc, swiss chard and an artichoke and hazelnut tuille.  Brilliant textures and tastes, I'm still obsessed with scallops.

The stand out dish for me was the Jerusalem style polenta (£9).  Served in a little tin pot (I was expecting a kilner jar as per the website pic but that's how the mini version comes) the polenta is topped with asparagus, mushroom ragu, parmesan and truffle oil.  For goodness sake.  It's wonderous. 

Final savoury dish was the labenah tortellini (£11).  Pretty prerry.  Labenah is a yoghurt cheese apparently, this was served on butternut squash puree with confit garlic, tomatoes and mange tout.  Dreamy.  We were getting full.  At this point the shots came, if you sit at the bar, you'll probably end up drinking with the guys behind the bar, excellent.

We managed to fit in a pud, a tahini ice cream (£7), that was not really an ice cream, more a solid cream, served with filo delight.  Nice end to the meal, but the dessert was not the one, it was all about the previous courses, all lovely.  I really liked the vibe too.  They open late, would love to have this as a late night destination, like Spuntino.  Would be ideal for after work drinks.  I'll be back one day!

The Palomar
 34 Rupert St

The Palomar on Urbanspoon

Monday, 28 July 2014

Le Comptoir Charcuterie et Vins

Le Comptoir has been on my Montreal restaurant list since my Feb visit.  I managed to scope it out in the snow and have been meaning to return since I made the move in March.  We sat at the bar arriving just before 8 and stayed pretty much til close.

I instantly liked the vibe of the place, there's a main bar area with stool and a few smaller tables, the place was full on both Monday and Tuesday nights, it's quite difficult to find restaurants that open Sunday and Monday, which is very annoying.  Will Travel for Food blog has a list of places opening, though it's a couple of years old....

We had a look at the wines by the glasses, the list is pretty impressive, we opted for fizz and had the Cremant d'Alsace, Andre Durrmann which was so smooth and almost creamy in taste that we stuck to it all night.

We began with the charcuterie board, all made in house.  I'm not going to pretend I listened and took in what each was, there was a smoked duck 'ham' a pate type one and 3 similar ish sausages.  All very good.  Came with little crisp breads, I was expecting the baguette I could see on the bread board on the bar.  This was the small platter $10, also available in large, $15.

First actual main dish to arrive was the shrimp ceviche with lardon and shallot confit ravioli with pine nuts, these were served on squash ricotta puree $16.  Liked the textures here, the pine nuts were really crunchy,  Really nice ceviche, they like their purees.  We were eating annoyingly slowly.

Next we had the calamari with tomato, olive and coriander $13.  The calamari was nicely cooked and the sauce was full of flavor.


My fave dish of the night came next, the pan fried cod with fennel and potato mouselline (basically mash) with clams, pepperone, pickled shallot and paprika oil.  The cod was brilliant, a nice mellow combination of flavours and a nice looking dish.  Some might be perturbed by the oil, but I like a bit of paprika oil.

Last main dish to arrive, about 3 hours after our arrival (good thing, we wanted to graze and gossip) was not actually one we ordered but we were happy enough with it.  The eggplant (oh god, what have I become) and ground pork mezza luna ($14), so named because their half moon shape resembles the chopping implement of the same name.

Looking at this pic - it actually looks nothing like a half moon, it was good though and probably the prettiest plating of the night.  A nice crispy onion ring, pine nuts, miso buffalo yoghurt and basil all combining, sounds a little all over the place, but it worked.

Then we had the cheese plate.  Obviously very nice!  This came with more of the crunchy slices of bread which I thought was odd, given that they serve the baguette with some of the mains.

Still liked this place a lot though, the main reason being the atmosphere, the music was brilliant, the service was relaxed and unstuffy and we never felt at all rushed.  Will definitely be back.

Le Comptoir Charcuterie et Vins
4807 Saint Laurent Boulevard
H2T 1R6

Le Comptoir on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Liverpool House

Kind of a mini post really, on the best meal I've had so far in Montreal, fittingly on my birthday, at Liverpool House, part of the Joe Beef group.
The summer terrasse had just opened and we had a long bench in the garden surrounded by the restaurant herb garden. 
Drinks to start included a fruity punch in a kilner jar and aperol spritz. I had a spritz, the weather was perfect and it seemed like the right thing to do.  To start I ordered the foie gras parfait with rhubarb jelly.  

It was incredible.  People here are crazy about, tartare, oysters, lobster and foie gras.  There isn't a restaurant that doesn't feature at least one of the these in my experience so far anyhow.  It's not strictly true obviously, there are plenty of vegan restaurants, and I've promised a friend that I'll go to one when I'm back from my upcoming trip to London.  Oh god.
The bread was a little boring but the parfait itself was so good that it didn't matter.  The jelly was a nice addition to cut the rich creaminess in both texture and flavor.  Loved it. 
My main was shared with Lee and was the slow roast shoulder of lamb for 2.  It was served on wilted leaves with chilli, radish, yoghurt and a side of tabbouleh.  It was amazing.  Too much for 2, huge portions is their thing, the lobster spaghetti is ridiculous.

Dessert (mine was free as it was my bday!) was some kind of pineapple pound cake with ice cream.  Nice sponge, not much else to say.  Better than I'm making it sound obviously. There was a sparkler in it, I was too happy to take a pic.
The one thing I would whinge about (there always has to be something) is that if you sit in the garden, then there's no menu, everything is on the chalkboards indoors.  So you need to go inside and literally stand in front of someone's table while you read it, and it's looooong, or rely on the waiter remembering everything.  I trust that he did a good job.  Can't wait to go to Joe Beef, booked in when Em's here in August. 
Wine recommendations both white and red were brilliant, service was lovely and I see why this trio of restaurants are continually dubbed the best in town, definitely the best I've eaten here so far.  Not a cheap night out but worth the spend.  We ate and drank LOADS and paid around $120 each (I think, my buds wouldn't let me pay).
2501 Rue Notre-Dame W
Little Burgundy
Liverpool House on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Typing Room

Last of my posts from my May/June trip back to London recounts dinner with Hannah and Sarah at Typing Room, the new restaurant in the Town Hall Hotel.  Lee Westcott (backed by Jason Atherton, who else) has taken over the kitchen from Nuno Mendes who is now at Chiltern Firehouse

We had an early booking arriving at 6:30 for drinks at The Peg & Patriot, the bar next door.  Got things going with a peg vodka martini, complete with olive crisp and board, tasted aniseedy, wanted gin. 

We knew we were heading out for drinks after the meal so opted for the a la carte menu instead of a tasting menu, turns out it would have been better value to go for the tasting option, so I'd definitely do that if were I to return.  Anyway, we ordered different dishes for each course and tried everything.  Here's what we had.

Bread was lovely, a brioche bun and an olive roll.  Toasted barley and chicken skin served on top of the butters, I really liked these, preferred the olive bread, but both good.

We snacked on these cumin lavoche with crab, corn and curried egg (£5).  I think this truly contained what might just be my favourite ingredients, we made very light work of them. 

Here are all 3 of the starters.  I'll start at the bottom.  Langoustine, carrot, coriander and pistachio (£15).  A tad over priced perhaps, there were a couple of croquettes on the plate but I genuinely don't recall what the filling was.  Don't believe there was much flavour in this at all, aside from the fish itself, which was perfectly cooked and the star of the dish.

Best started for me was the veal sweetbread with asparagus, peas and buttermilk (£15).  Actually, scrap what I said about the lavoche, peas are one of my faves.  Anyway, this starter was delicious, you could taste each component and even the foam didn't bother me.

3rd starter we tried was the mackerel, passionfruit, cucumber and radish (£12).  The balls of cucumber were quite novel, looked like melon, some were burnt, and passionfruit and mackerel worked together better than they should on the plate though it's not something I'm itching to try again.

Onto mains, the lamb was my standout dish.  Served with smoked aubergine, yoghurt, wild garlic and onion (£24).  2 kinds of lamb and beautifully presented onions, garlic flowers topping the whole thing off, I was sad when we rotated and I had to pass this one on.

The belly pork with peach, mustard and lettuce (£22) was good, the meat the man attraction, as it should be, but we all agreed we couldn't taste much else.  Good job the suckling pig itself was so well cooked, crispy topped and soft melting fat below.  Who needs peach?

I was underwhelmed by the pigeon with salt baked celeriac, lovage and hazelnut (£26), having been urged to try the dish by a previous guest.  I'm not the biggest fan of pigeon, again the presentation was faultless and everything sounded great but it left us wanting slightly.  Lack of sauce perhaps?

We tried some lovely wines, excellently matched by the sommelier, white, red and dessert.  A pre dessert of parsley sorbet with lime and ginger granita was brillaint.  Really sharp and hot with ginger, loved it.

This was the unanimous winner on the dessert front, chocolate, amaretto and almond (£7.50).  Amazing textures, variety of temperatures and rich chocolate in several forms.  It was excellent.

Strawberry, pistachio and white chocolate (£8) was also incredibly pretty.  Coolness again from the sorbet, spongey pistachio and a white chocolate log shaped thing covered in more strawberry, in gel form.  Very good.  

I was less convinced by the almost savoury green tea with sesame (£7), pretty enough, but I've rarely seen a green pud, and there's a reason for that, thinking back to the last time, it was at L'Enclume and it was good, one of the best I've ever had but it was appley and sweet (and they hid the green stuff under white stuff).  This wasn't my cup of tea at all.

Last to show up were these petit fours, zesty little jellies, nice way to end the meal.  We had a really fun evening, we always do but the food wasn't quite at the level we had hoped it would be.  Perhaps due to the newness of everything, it was week 2 or 3 when we visited, so admittedly, I was there too early to judge proper.  Would really like to try The Corner Room in it's new incarnation too.

Typing Room
Town Hall Hotel
Patriot Sq

Typing Room on Urbanspoon