Sunday, 30 November 2014

November Round Up

Rounding up November, already.  This year, especially since my move to Canada has gone soooooo quickly.  It's quite scary.  Does mean it's almost Christmas though, so I'll be back in the UK for a bit, woo.  Here's what I've eaten this month in Montreal. 

Joe Beef
Goatsy came to stay and we went to Joe Beef.  I don't need to say anything more about Joe Beef, it's amazing, it's difficult to get a table, I've said it's brilliant enough.  Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, they smashed dessert, just look at this thing, mille-crepe lemon meringue.  No further words required.

Gibeau Orange Julep
Somewhat of a local institution is Gibeau Orange Julep, think fast food served in a big orange.  Literally.  It's cheap and cheerful, the julep in the name refers to a drink which is not entirely a pleasant thing, orange juice combined with milk and a hell of a lot of sugar which typically accompanies some kind of burger, hotdog or poutine.  I got this little tray of delights, 2 hotdogs with all the toppings and I was tasting raw onion for the rest of the day.   Can't say I'll rush back but it's a novelty destination really, situated on an industrial estate, apparently bikers hang in the car park during the summer, so if that's your thing, you know what to do.

Appetite For Books
This is a wonderful book store in Westmount, they have an incredible selection of cookbooks and they offer evening cooking demos, Sarah and I went along to a class to celebrate the recent launch of Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty More.  We saw made (and then ate) some sample dishes whilst drinking wine.  The onion cake, yes, onion cake, is just incredible.  I'll definitely be making this myself.  Buy the book, go to the store (if you live in Montreal), the classes are just a really fun night out even if you have little interest in cooking.  I now won't have any problems coming up with veggie dishes to cook thanks to Yotam.

Grace, Margaret and I hit Laurea one Saturday night for dinner.  This is a new opening on one of my favourite streets in Montreal, Laurier.  I wasn't sure what to expect from the food, hadn't read too much about it.  It felt very New York in the cocktail bar downstairs, we sipped martinis while some dude played the piano.  Then we moved upstairs for dinner, and I ate this wonderful dish of cod with prawn dumplings in a dashi broth ($22).  Really delicious.  I'll be back for sure, cocktails were good and the food more than lined our stomachs for the night out ahead.  We went down the road to Bar Kabinet but actually ended up coming back and hanging out in the adjoining Bar Lorbeer until it closed at 3am.  Loved both places and the food really impressed.

Balsam Inn
Another newish opening here in Montreal that I made it to this month, Balsam Inn is located very centrally right next door to Dominion Square Tavern.  The decor is really cool, quite clinical and minimal but they have some amazing bits, nice light fittings which are a little different to the generic trendy vibe you see so much of these days.  Long story short, the food wasn't all great, the appetisers were a lot better than the mains, fried chicken was not my cup of tea at all, smothered in a sickly sweet sauce.  But there is a lot of promise, the cheese and flatbread was excellent, the bacon meatloaf was just odd.  Will probably head back after Christmas to try more of the menu, this was just a quick hungover stop off.

Grumman '78
Had a shocker of a meal here with Art.  I had really high hopes due to their appearance in a Munchies Chef's Night Out in Montreal earlier this year. I think it's the most disappointed I've been in a meal in this city so far, especially sad because Art was visiting, and I was attempting to show her the best that's available here.  They had run out of both the wine we chose and the main course I ordered, we weren't offered the dessert trolley (didn't want any of them, but would have been nice to have a look) and it was cold in there as we were sitting close to the door and it was a snowy day.  The food was pretty rank to be honest, bahn-mi tacos and fried chicken with johnny cakes.  Just no.

Another disappointment sadly, the newly opened oyster bar run by Daniel Notkin, the guy behind Montreal's oysterfest which I very much enjoyed earlier in the year.  Nice venue for drinks but the food was decidedly average, the highlight being the chowder pictured below.  We skipped oysters but in hindsight you probably can't go wrong ordering them here.  The lobster burger was the biggest letdown, we asked the waiter to recommend what to eat and nothing he suggested stood out.  Shame. 

Gibeau Orange Julep
7700 Boulevard Decarie

Gibeau Orange Julep on Urbanspoon

381 Laurier Ouest

Laurea on Urbanspoon

Balsam Inn
1237 Rue Metcalfe
Golden Square Mile

Balsam Inn on Urbanspoon
Grumman 78
630 Rue De Courcelle 
Sud Ouest

Grumman '78 on Urbanspoon 

Notkins Oyster Bar
1101 Rue De Bleury

Notkins Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Boo in New York - Ippudo

Best ramen in New York?  Friends I was staying with reliably told me it can be found at Ippudo.  We went for Sunday lunch at the Midtown outpost.  They've just opened in London, to mixed reviews, but I loved the meal we had in New York. 

So, their thing is that each table is announced and cheered by the staff upon entry, bit weird, but to be honest, not even that noticeable.  I expected it to be very in your face, but I actually think it's quite nice.  Maybe because I was in holiday mode, rather than nipping round the corner from work to have a quick ramen lunch, but people need to lighten up if they find this intrusive.   We scored a much sought after booth as we were a big group and only had to wait about 20 minutes, which we spent in a nearby vintage clothing shop.  It flew by. 

We started with an obligatory Sapporo ($6), mine didn't go down all that well tbh, it was too early and I was 2nd day hanging.  Molly and I ordered exactly the same, starting with agedashi tofu ($10)

This is served in a dashi broth topped with aubergine, radish, spring onion and wasabi.  Probably the best agedashi tofu I've ever had, the lightest batter encasing it, it was quite difficult to eat actually because the tofu was so soft it was impossible to grip with chopsticks.

Next up we went for the Tori tatsuta-age ($9), the fried chicken with daikon ponzu sauce.  This was incredible.  London has some amazing karaage chicken (Bone Daddies), Montreal too (Saka Ba), but this is the nicest I've ever had.  I could have eaten all of this in a heartbeat, but I had to stop to save some room for the ramen.  It pained me to leave any.

SMILEY FACE!!!  The main event being this, the karaka men ramen ($15).  Tonkotsu pork broth, noodles topped with chashu pork, minced pork, spicy sauce, sesame mushrooms and onions.  Optional extra seasoned egg ($2) was added, obvs.  Now, this was not a Clarence Court egg, so clearly inferior but everything else about this bowl hit the spot.  I'm keen to try the London branch when I'm back in December, to judge for myself if the same formula works in another city. 

Apparently these guys invented steamed buns, who knew.  The starter dishes were really standout and the ramen ticks all the boxes too. 

Ippudo, NY
65 4th Avenue
New York

Ippudo on Urbanspoon

Monday, 10 November 2014

Boo in New York - Momofuku Ssäm Bar

The only must visit place for me during my recent New York trip was a Momofuku restaurant.  I didn't even mind which one.  David Chang's restaurants have always been on my wishlist, I'm a regular reader of his Lucky Peach magazine and as luck would have it, I was staying at my friend Suz's place in the East Village, a stone's throw from the Ssäm Bar.  We ended up lucking out and not even requiring a reservation for a group of 6, walking in at around 10pm on Halloween looking to fuel up before heading to Brooklyn for the night.

Starting with drinks, I tried the juniper#3, gin apricot, campari and lemon.  Served unexpectedly in a tumbler, it was short and really tart, great start.  Ellen's choice of a celery sour won, so great.  The scotch based Penicillin also went down well.  Cocktails here are excellent.  

We each opted for some buns ($10 for 2), Nibs and I shared the steamed variety with pork belly, hoisin and cucumber.  Really, really amazing.  I just love these things.  The pork was so succulent and tender, I resisted the urge to order more.  The girls also enjoyed the buffalo pork buns with blue cheese and hot sauce, and some of the veggie ones filled with mushrooms.

Molly's choice of country hams ($12) was brilliant, smoked ham with bread and red eye gravy from the small dishes section of the menu.  Other dishes falling into either raw, fall, fish or meat sections.  Non meaty options at the table included the scallop ceviche ($15) with lotus root, the kimchi mason jar ($5) and a fresh chilled market bean salad ($10) with XO and radish that had an almighty kick to it.  All excellent dishes.

For main I couldn't resist the beef offal stew with turnip and kale ($23).  The broth was fragrant and rich, the meat included tendon, oxtail and tripe.  Also pictured below is the fried moo kimchi with yuzu mayo ($8).  Everything we ate was incredible, there wasn't a single miss.  We shared some kind of pie for dessert which I have to admit wasn't particularly memorable, but it's me, not them.  Desserts = meh when you're in New York for Halloween and you have parties to go to.

I think this place is amazing.  As well as incredible food and cocktail menus, they also offer BYOB, group bookings with set menus, weekend brunch and drinks only at their bar, Booker and Dax.  If I lived in New York (one day yeah?) I'd be here all the time.  Loved it.  Just don't expect the politest service ever, they have a constant stream of diners and need to turn tables quickly so have little patience for indecisiveness or lingering guests. 

'Emojis, assemble'.  Best Halloween ever.

Momofuku Ssäm Bar
207 2nd Avenue
East Village
New York

Momofuku Ssäm Bar on Urbanspoon