Kyozon

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KYOZON
1458 rue Crescent
Montreal, Québec
(514) 439-8383
H4C 2B7
http://www.kyozon.ca
Chef Hats 3
Cost : 3 persons= $ 140.00 approx.

Kyozon

Kyozon is a fresh concept in dining new to Montreal, since this past year. It’s a “Kaiten” style restaurant where diners pick up food of their choice from a rotating conveyor belt. Moreover, Kyozon means to merge together in Japanese. So apropos is this name of this restaurant/bar as it melds well together two experiences. Housed in a historic grey stone former home at the turn of the century that is situated on Crescent street, it once was the old now defunct Hard Rock Cafe; if you can remember. The 8500 square foot space has been totally redesigned by a team of designers at Andres Escobar and Associes. They have even won an award from Commerce Design Montreal, but we will have to wait till Fall to see if they have won the “People Choice Award for best new commerce design in Montreal for 2015.
As we stepped through the door, we were in awe with the massiveness of the space. The center of the room has an epicenter bar and soaring ceilings. Above it the chefs elevated kitchen gazes over the room with its exposed hanging sake barrels and terracotta brick walls, and exotic wood finishes.
The expansive room easily fits 250 people. The top floor or level of this restaurant is where you will find long table counters with chairs and the conveyor belt where New Asian food is served. New Asian food is a term referring to a mix of Asian food, not fusion, but a mix of Japanese, China Thai, Vietnamese and Cambodia all wrapped up into one.  The idea came from co-owner Brian Bendix, who lived in Japan in the early ‘90s. He wanted to recreate in Montreal something he found often in Japan, with its crowded multi-generational streets but where tradition deeply rooted still can rubs shoulders with modern concepts. He wanted something old, yet newly exotic with a touch of warmth and authenticity. He has managed to create this in Kyozon decor.
For those of you who don’t know who Brian Bendix is, he is also the”CEO of Stambac International, a company that specializes in supper clubs or entertainment type restaurants and venues’’. Along with Thomas Nacos Group of Weinsten & Gavinos , Newtown, Decca 77 and Atelier Argentine fame and two other partners Steven and Marcel Elefant they decided to invest and create this new start up on Crescent street. That is lots of experience and knowledge under one belt and it will be a winning formula for some time.
Kyozon with its subdued lights and lounge music and great innovative cocktails has more of a nightlife atmosphere and is more of a bar than a restaurant. With its award-winning mixologist Lawrence Picard of Nectar & Mixologie, the cocktail list here features creations such as the Shojo Sour , Kato Martini, Paradise Swizzle and Monkey Juice, the list goes on and you want to try them all at $ 10.50 a pop.

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Kato Martini

Cocktails sampled this evening were Kato Martini, for The Foo-Foodie, made with Grey Goose Vodka, green tea, Midori liqeur and cucumber juice with a garnish of thinly sliced cucumber, it was very refreshing, another one was needed to in order to be intoxicating. Ordered as well were two virgin drinks the Buddha Temple & Pataya Beach at $ 7.50 for Brains and her friend Biff because they just were NOT in the drinking mood.
For starters the two BFF ordered the White Belt platter of 6 pieces of Shasimi and 6 pieces of Maki at $ 26.00 to share and two platter of Maki Salmon avocado at $ 14.00 each with a bowl of mixed rice at $ 8.00.

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The Foo Foodie went the adventurous way and ordered Newstyle Ceviche which consisted of tuna, salmon and yellowtail thinly sliced with lime juice, shallots and purple coriander for $ 16.00 and an entree of prawns tempura for $12.50 . The Ceviche platter was totally refreshing with its lime juice and thin slivers of delicate fish topped off with scented aromatic purple Chinese coriander leaves. Visually it looks like a rainbow of colors on one plate and a dish definitely worth trying, not only for its taste but for its visual aspect. The plate which was the nicest part of the dish due to its colorful pattern made it exceptionally delectably eye catching. The prawns were also very good and had the right texture and freshness.

Ceviche
Newstyle Ceviche

I sampled from the Biff’s platter a couple of makis, which were equally as pleasing and different in taste and conception.

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White Belt

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Unfortunately that evening the upstairs was not open for business. We were told it was only open for lunch. The la carte menu was the only thing available. Dommage, as Biff said he had been there for lunch and the conveyor belt and choices were much more interesting and fun. I think this is the way to go when visiting Kyozon to get the full effect of the Kaiten style eatery and experience.

I also ordered a platter of Spicy Salmon  Avocado Makis @  14.00 , it was very good and fresh but twice their price at any other sushi restaurant .

Also sampled were the Prawn Tempura at $ 12.50 that were kind of limpy .

Spicy Salmon Makis
Spicy Salmon Makis
Shrimp Tempura
Shrimp Tempura

For a little addition we ordered a bowl of mixed rice, which was generic.

Mixed Rice
Mixed Rice

Leaving a little disappointed this evening and short $ 140.00 I feel the prices at Kyozon are a little steep for what we ate and drank.
The decor is great and the ambiance exciting, but it was also a very quiet Wednesday night and it left me wondering how long they can keep up the pace at this rate. It would be a shame if Kyozon is not as successful as its sister restaurants, being a fan of Weinstein and Gavino for many years, it became my home and the staff my friends for the best part of my weekends. I was hoping to find this here. The staffs are very accommodating, but young and inexperienced. Very few suggestions were made regarding the menu, our waitress disappeared for long periods not to return till the end.

On the onset, upon walking in, I was turned away at the door saying I had no reservations; which I had made weeks ahead. For a moment I thought they were not able to accommodate me even though it was an empty house. I had a fleeting moment of panic, and felt like Persona non grata! All the while, Brains and Biff waited seated inside at the best seat of the house waiting for me to arrive. Not a good way to start. Thinking in my head that Kyozon has ways to go in the hospitality area… the place is still young, it needs a chance. All I have to say is KAMPAI!

 

** as this time of publishing this article. I found out that Kyozon closed today.

 
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Bistro Nolah-Southern Comfort

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Bistro Nolah
3669 Boulevard St Jean / Blue Haven
Dollard-des Ormeaux Québec
H9G 1X2
514) 696-9797
http://www.bistronolah.com
Cuisine: Cajun Fusion
Cost: $ 132.00 Tax and tip
Chef Hats: 4

Bistro Nolah is the closest thing you will come to eating Cajun food in Montreal and one of the best things that has happened in terms of restaurant scenes in the West Island since 2012. It is a quaint little restaurant with a very quiet terrace, romantic atmosphere, exceptional food and very hospitable service. Located in Dollard des Ormeaux, it not only serves the local community but also those coming from all the rest of the island who appreciates down home southern food.

Bistro Nolah serves Cajun dishes with a twist; the plates are fused with local Quebec market products. Do not expect 100% proof Cajun/Creole at Bistro Nolah. You will also find on their menu such items as Steak frites, Duck Confit and Braised Short Ribs for those discerning palates. All dishes are beautifully presented, in a delicate manner with subtle flavors of Cajun themes, mixed in with fresh local Quebec products. Nothing is too spicy.

The meals I sampled were a real pleasure to the palate, but you have to appreciate this type of food. The reason I am saying this is from personal experience. Mainly, I know that Cajun food it not a favorite or even popular with the Montrealers. I used to give cooking courses and when looking for students, only handfuls were interested. For years I spoke of Cajun food to deaf ears, but never really took off in Montreal. I remember in the 80’s going to Cajun House downtown on a date, although a popular place and packed to the brim, the food was 911 mega hot, so spicy were the dishes, I started to have an allergic reaction to the spice and thought my guts would bust. Maybe this is how people all thought of Cajun food, too hot & spicy for them, so they stayed away

A few years later The Cajun House closed down for lack of interest and customers. At the Cajun House I got a taste of my first Shrimp étouffée. Some years later, La Louisanne on Sherbrooke opened up, it has been around for a while now, but it was never taken off as a real Cajun hot spot. I always saw it as just another bar and hangout for the locals. I heard that some chefs in the city were cooking hints of Cajun food here and there on their menus. But never a full blown menu is Montreal ever going to be ready for real Cajun food I thought.

I was introduced to Paul Prudhomme’s cookbook ‘’Louisiana Kitchen ‘’ shortly after my dinner at The Cajun House in the 80”s and I fell in love with Cajun cuisine. So much, that in 2010 I visited New Orleans ate at K Paul’s and took cooking classes at NOCE. Life has never been the same; I have become a Cajun Snob. My expertise became anything Cajun and I sold buckets of Chicken Creole and dumpling soup.

So you could imagine my skepticism when I heard Bistro Nolah had opened in The West Island. I shied away for three years for various reasons but mostly because I lack confidence in the West Island food scene and believing that it was not going to be much different from my many of the other experience I had with Cajun food in this city. Dismissing it because I thought wouldn’t last. I was totally wrong.

But it was during a Zomato meet up in spring that Bistro Nolah came up in the conversation and was strongly recommended to me by Genevieve via the Montreal Maven during our dinner. Trusting in one of my fellow foodie’s recommendations, then it must be good, so it was warranted a try.

Opened in Winter 2012, Bistro Nolah is co owned by Chef Richard Taitt (Auberge Willow’s Inn, Bistro on the Avenue and Rest Cajun Blues in Ste Anne de Bellevue) and chef Chris Eamer ( Willows Inn, Auberge des Gallants , Mimosa Cafe.) Their team is completed by Pastry Chef Isabelle Plourde. They bring lots of authentic Southern flavors and experience to the table.

One night, tired and not wanting to drive back into town, I made reservations for us to have a quiet dinner at Bistro Nolah. As we approached the gated wrought iron and brick arbor I liked what they had done with the space that previously house Momesso Cafe. The inside of the restaurant is a small nicely decorated space with dark wooden tables, chairs and flooring. The walls painted a burnt yellow like the Louisiana sun displays decor of musical jazz instruments and wall art. The terrace is spacious and privately gated with cedars and greenery. It sits on a quiet angle of a residential street, hidden a little from the traffic on St Jean’s boulevard. This is where we chose to sit on this warm summer evening with the sounds of jazz playing in the background.

We were given our menus and wine list. The wine choices are very reasonable and fair. We started with a bottle of Californian-Woodbridge Merlot 2013 from Robert Mondavi winery at $ 35.00, at a descent price.

Merlot- Mondavi
Merlot- Mondavi

For starters we were brought a two hush puppies amuse bouche from our more than hospitable and affable waiter Matthew. These were the perfect starters and a great entrance and introduction to this type of cuisine. Deep fried rounds of cornmeal on an aioli sauce. They were crispy and perfectly moist on the inside, with a slight hint of Cajun spice to accentuate the flavors of southern food.

Hush Puppies
Hush Puppies
Crab Cakes
Crab Cakes

Next I ordered an entree of Louisiana crab cakes $ 7.00 my next favorite thing in Cajun cooking along with beignets. Also a very flavourful mix of deep fried rounds of crabmeat, served with a medley of corn aioli sauce and chives. Rolled in cornmeal, so exterior was extra crispy and interior bursting with flavors of hot paprika and cayenne.

Frenchie ordered a cream of celery root soup -$8.00, which is his favorite. Served in a square bowl, with drizzle of olive oil and chopped chives. Perfect consistency and packed with flavors. For his main meal, he ordered the Braised Short Ribs -$26.00 with mashed potatoes puree and julienned parsnips and beets.
The ribs were fall off the bone, the sauce and jus, sitting atop some olive oil made it perfect for dipping.

Cream of Celery Root
Cream of Celery Root
Braised Short Ribs
Braised Short Ribs

I ordered the special on the menu that evening Southern Fried chicken with Nolah BBQ Sauce-$ 25.00.
It came with two pieces of fried chicken, homemade BBQ sauce, Mac n cheese and the house coleslaw. Southerners are known for their fried chicken, made in the simplest method, always perfectly crisp.
The chicken was a little overdone on the outside, but still moist. What threw this dish over the top was the homemade barbeque sauce, packed with flavor, a little sweet with a little acidic hints of vinegar and lots of spice and very tasty. I kept dipping the white chicken pieces in it. The Mac N cheese served in a small ramekin was really creamy with cheese. Very soothing and comforting even in the heat. The coleslaw was too chunky and lacked flavor.

Fried Chicken with Mac N Cheese & Coleslaw
Fried Chicken with Mac N Cheese & Coleslaw

Being full with all the food, we skipped out on the dessert, but vowed to return to try other items on their menu as they all looked equally good. The hospitality was just as sweet as Southern Ice tea and the overall feeling was very comforting. We were going to make Bistro Nolah our home in the future.

 
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Restaurant Le Vestibule signé Aurochs

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Restaurant Le Vestibule signé Aurochs
Hôtel Alt Quartier DIX30
9395 Boulevard Leduc
Brossard, QC J4Y 0A5
Phone:(450) 676-4440
http://www.lerestaurantvestibule.com
Cost : $ 143.75 (tax & tip Included)
Chef Hats: 4

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Le Vestibule is a trendy lounge type restaurant attached to the Aurochs steakhouse in the ever so popular Quartier Dix 30 -Alt Hotel in Brossard. It serves excellent tapas like plates, has a cool terrasse and great music. It is very convivial and a good place for Happy Hour or just unwind after a long day of shopping in the huge mega-plex mall.

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It offers a large variety of bistro fare at reasonable prices. All dishes are super fresh, well presented with the food right combinations, right down to the delicious desserts, cocktails and whisky bar. New and innovative, young chef Mitch O’Donnell hits all the right notes, his talents are at his best here. There was not one dish that I tasted that did not perfectly blend well together, in a medley of colors, and array of explosive flavors to the palate.

There is a mix of dishes to please every taste bud, from tartar’s of all kinds, to ribs, mini sliders, seafood and tacos all done with class. Why not splurge and try them all with the Table du Chef menu at $ 44.00. You can’t go wrong.

We happen to have literally stumbled across Le Vestibule, after picking up Brains from her friends place in St Bruno, after driving around for an hour looking for a place to eat. On our way back home, we figured that we could find a cool hip pub for the girls to snack at the Quartier. Petit Pois and Frenchie with the discerning taste opted for Le Vestibule after looking at the menu. Luckily, they were able to accommodate us without reservations and the festivities began.

Frenchie and I started with two glasses of Rose wine Gran Feudo from Spain -$10.00. Clean and fruity with aromas of strawberry and raspberry, it was well balanced with the perfect acidity to go with our choice of salads, vegetables, fish and charcuterie platter.

Fuedo Rose
Feudo Rose

We also chose to go with a few entrees instead of a large main meal to leave room for dessert. Brains and I choose to share, the trio of salmon tartar with fried egg roll wrappers and slivers of cucumber beautifully presented on a slate plate. Exceptionally fresh cubes of salmon infused with lime and gin, green onions and tobiko wasabi. Not overpowering in flavor and very light. The fried eggs roll wrappers a perfect accompaniment, just wish we could have had more. The cucumber slivers a real palate cleanser.

Trio  Salmon Taetar
Trio Salmon Taetar

Our second plate was a deconstructed Waldorf salad made with Asian Pears, celery, Boston lettuce, radicchio, red raisins and vinaigrette infused with gorgonzola and topped with walnuts. The combination was heavenly. The walnuts adding the right crunchiness, the vinaigrette with gorgonzola was light and not overpowering. The sweetness of the Asian pears, mixed well with the bitterness of the radicchio. A marriage made in heaven.

Waldorf Salad
Waldorf Salad

Our third entree was a platter of fried calamari with a piperade of sweet red peppers, rapini and parsley. The piperade in itself lightly marinated in vinegar was delicious on its own. The calamari, tender and crispy not chewy or rubbery at all. We could have gone for seconds on everything for how tasty it all was.

Waldorf Salad
Fried Calamari

Frenchie and Petit Pois two dishes were equally pleasing. Frenchie took the platter of charcuterie, which consisted of a generous portion of two sliced salami’s, one spicy and one mild, rillettes de canard, mousse de foie de volaille. As a base a spread of confiture d’oignons au porto, a medley of black and green olives, and grilled raisin bread and a slab of semi soft Quebec cheese, missing was the pickles. The juxtaposition of the tartness of the onion jam and the marinated olives went well with the spiciness of the meat. The sweetness of the raisin bread also complimenting the flavors of the cheese and the chicken liver mousse. A good example of fine pairings and successfully mastered.

Platter of Charcuterie
Platter of Charcuterie

Petit Pois had the Panzanella Bresaola salad. Slices of deep cured meat with marinated artichokes, cubed bread, tomatoes, basil, onions and chunks of parmesan cheese. Featuring all the flavors of a meditterean summer and freshness.

Panzanella Salad
Panzanella Salad

To complete this fine meal, two decadent desserts of molten chocolate cupcakes topped with brandied maraschino cherries and whipped cream and an apple pie in cocotte infused with maple syrup al la mode with two scoops of creamy vanilla ice cream.

Molten Chocolate Cupcakes
Molten Chocolate Cupcakes

What more can I say…a perfect compliment and ingenious ideas for apple pie.

Apple Pie en Cocotte
Apple Pie en Cocotte

Le Vestibule not only gets points for their great food but decor as well. Decorated in black and red with checkered floor tiles, long flowing wall to floor silver grey drapes. Mirrors abound with black and red leather banquettes; it feels like stepping into a very masculine parlor. It feels totally Illicit, illegal and caché. It has a romantic and mysterious feel to it. For those whose senses are shocked, the terrasse proves to be a great place to bask in the sunshine or under their large red umbrellas. The name is so apropos, for a minute or a few hours you even forget you are in a mall but feel like to have stepped inside someone’s parlor.

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Sapori Di Napoli

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Sapori di Napoli
1465 Rue Dudemaine/St Real St.
Montréal, Quebec
H3M 1P9
Telephone: (514) 335-1465
http://www.saporidinapoli.ca
Cost: $ 85.95 for two persons after tax (not including tip)
Chef Hats: 4

Sapori di Napoli is synonymous with a true authentic Neapolitan experience and excellent food. Tucked in the basement of a duplex in New Bordeaux, you will feel like to have stepped back in time to your Nonna’s house. That is if you are Italian, but even if you are not you will feel like you stepped into your Italian best friend’s home.

Sapori di Napoli is a family run restaurant; they not only make you feel more than welcome, but actually part of “La Familgia”. So it was only befitting that we host our annual cousin “cugini” re-union at Sapori di Napoli this year.

This evening was organized by our cousin Mr. Malibu who has worked with the owner and multi talented Guido Grasso on some local movie productions. We knew we were in for an exciting entertaining evening filled with good food, great conversation and a laissé faire attitude.

Opened in 2011, Sapori di Napoli has already garnished a great reputation not only within the Italian community but also among the larger than life foodies of Montreal. But what makes this place special is Guido, whose talents stretch far beyond just the makings of a good pizza. Besides being an aspiring actor, he is also a well-known comedian and teaches cooking classes at Leonardo Da Vinci center. Guido keeps himself busy, but always gives you his undivided attention, along with his family, who offer a genuine family experience while dining at Sapori di Napoli. You know the place is special when you walk in to discover that some local or not so local celebrity is sitting in the restaurant.

This was the case this evening when we entered Sapori di Napoli to find Steve Gallucio from “Mambo Italiano” fame sitting right in front of the house. Sapori di Napoli has hosted many a famous celebrity, but tonight we felt like the stars. Before commencing our meal, Mr. Malibu introduced us to Mr. Gallucio, who came to our table to talk to us. Not at all pretentious, but this can be said about the atmosphere at Sapori di Napoli and its patrons.
The staff and Guido were more than accommodating; the service was exceptionally friendly, very familiar and we felt at home among friends and family. Maybe we felt a little too comfortable, because we were having so much fun we didn’t want to leave.

We started our evening by ordering a ½ liter of the house wine- a red Montepulciano D’abruzzo for $17.00 all around. As an entree I had an insalta mista for $ 7.00, a generous plate of mixed greens with olive oil and perfectly seasoned with balsamic vinaigrette. My cousin Miss Diana Ross ordered an arugula and endive salad with copious amounts of shaved parmesan and cherry tomatoes and The Godfather ordered the cream of asparagus soup that he said was very creamy and flavourful.

Insalata mista
Insalata mista
Arugula Salad with parmesan shavings
Arugula Salad with parmesan shavings
Cream od Asparagus Soup
Cream od Asparagus Soup

Sapori di Napoli’s speciality and most popular seller is their pizza. Highly recommended was their Margherita pizza at $ 15.00, made with fresh tomato sauce, fresh basil and fiore di latte mozzarella. It was indeed tasty and different from most of the counterpart Margherita sampled elsewhere. But my favorite was and still remains the Crudaiola – $ 18.00, packed with flavor, topped with fresh prosciutto di Parma, Arugula, cherry tomatoes and fiore di latte mozzarella. The dough was a fluffy white chewy pocket, with crispy edges and a crunchy flavorful bottom. It was made to perfection.

 

Margherita Pizza
Margherita Pizza
Crudaoila
Crudaoila

The Napoletana pizza, basically similar to the Margherita, but with anchovies and capers added for saltiness and a punch of goodness. The house speciality pizza called so appropriately Sapori, was topped with parmesan shavings, cherry tomatoes and fresh arugula. All pizza’s ordered were above caliber and made the way pizza should be done, the old fashion way.

Sapori Pizza
Sapori Pizza
Napoletana Pizza
Napoletana Pizza

Do not just order pizza at Sapori di Napoli, because their pasta is exceptional. The spaghetti con vongole, was a generous portion of pasta in a light red clam sauce with over a dozen medium sized clams still in their shells forming a crown around the plate. A generous portion is putting it mildly! The sauce mildly piccante with sautéed cubed onions and garlic, elevated the clams to a whole new different level.

Spaghetti with Clams
Spaghetti with Clams

The penne with rapini and sasiccia (sausage) was just like mom makes it with fresh homemade Italian sausage packed with fennel seeds and bitter rapini and a hint of garlic. Great opposing flavors for those who like something different, than their usual take on pastas. This pasta dish came topped with grated parmesan and a drizzle of virgin olive oil. The pasta was “Al dente” and smooth. I was amazed by this dish as you could really taste the freshness of the pork and the flavors really popped in your mouth.

Penne con Sasiccia & Rapini
Penne con Sasiccia & Rapini

Mr Malibu went for his proverbial favorite Scaloppini piccante al limone. This came served with potatoes, broccoli and grilled red pepper. The veal was super tender and fresh and the lemon and white wine adding just the right tang.

Veal Scallopini al Limone
Veal Scallopini al Limone

For dessert, I ordered my favorite zeppoli. This is a must for dessert, along with the nutella pizza. Sapori di Napoli makes these like no other place in Montreal. The zeppole were not the usual that you will find at most Italian pastry shops in March for Saint Joseph Day. They were more like long fried pizza dough that my mom used to make at Christmas, which we call “scrippelli”. I thought I had died and gone to heaven, when I was delivered not one but whole plate full for $ 6.00, these are my favorites and bring back deep childhood memories when I would eat them hot as my mom was pulling them out of the deep fryer. These were even better than my mom’s (but don’t tell her that). They came covered sprinkled with granulated sugar. Totally delicious.

Zeppole
Zeppole

The nutella pizza was decadent. If you are a nutella lover, this is for you. You will not be disappointed. I brought my portion back home for my daughter to eat; she thanked me a million times.

Nutella Pizza
Nutella Pizza

The only miss was the crème brulee which Frenchie ordered. He felt it lacked flavor. But 1 out of three ain’t bad. Sapori di Napoli is an Italian restaurant and Crème Brulee may not be their forte but everything else is. Ordered with dessert were espressos all around and to boot, on the house a shot of grappa to compliment our meal or Sambuca to put in our coffee, depending on who wanted what.

The feeling I got from the place was very convivial and immensely hospitable. From the staff to Guido’s parents who came to talk to us, we felt we had been there at least a dozen times and we felt like we had known them for years like old friends. For a few hours we did become part of the family.

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Folinos Wood Fired Pizza & Fiddlehead Brewing Company

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Folino’s Wood Fired Pizza & Fiddlehead Brewing Company
6305 Shelburne Rd
Shelburne, Vermont
O5482, USA
Telephone: (802) 881-8822
http://www.folinopizza.com
Cost: approx. $ 80.00, growlette’s $ 19.00 USD
Chef Hats: 3.5

Fiddlehead Brewing Company
Fiddlehead Brewing Company

Vermont should be labelled “the Mecca” for foodies who are looking for fresh farm to table produce and new innovative ways of engineering creative ideas in the realm of foodie land. This foodie can vouch that whenever
I am on one of my visits to Vermont, and I try a new place, whatever it be, I am always blown away by their ingenuity and creative food skills. This was the case again and a pleasant surprise while visiting Folino’s Wood Fired Pizza in Shelburne Vermont.

Folino's
Folino’s

Folino’s pizza opened very quietly in March 2012 by owner John Koerner, without an open sign on the road and limited parking space. Today they make up to 60 pizzas a day and have partnered up with Fiddlehead Brewery Company next door in the same building. Serving the discriminating taste of Shelburne locals and those day trippers from Montreal and beyond.

Their secret a naturally leavened dough; no commercial yeast is used here. “They keep a starter alive which is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (fungus). The bacteria give the dough flavor by making acid. The fungus metabolizes sugar creating CO2 which makes the dough fluffy”. I was told by my connection at University of Vermont that one of the part owners was a student in the greenhouse specializing in botany and the anything fungus. So the knowledge used at Folino’s is not haphazard, but an actual science.

Their methods do not only combine what a few others have to offer , but also an old Italian school method of mixing the dough and preparing it with a combination of basic simple ingredients. The massive fire brick oven then cooks the pizza through conduction at high temperatures with wood, creating a crispy thin crust pizza, with specks of char and a whole lot of flavor.

The other plus, cool and different thing about Folino’s is its BYOB, but with a special twist that we do not find often back home. Literally the next door over or in front as you enter you will find Fiddlehead Brewery. Here you can taste of free sampling of their brews and pick up a growler to take with you next door while having some delicious pizza. If you do not like beer, you can always head across the street and pick up some wine at Shelburne winery. Folino’s also has outdoor seating for those who want to enjoy the fresh country air along with their pizza, beer or wine.

Today we headed straight to Fiddlehead Brewery to first sample three of their weekly brews and smell the hops. Just a whiff is intoxicating. We sampled their Amarillo, Brett on the Dance floor and their Fiddlehead IPA. We chose two 32 oz. growlette’s to have with our pizza.

Growlette= 16 oz Amarillo
Growlette= 16 oz Amarillo

Next door the family had gotten seated in the corner of the restaurant in their private little nook. The pizza’s are ordered at the counter and then brought to you and placed on a multi-tiered wired stands. We started with a large family sized salad for $20.00 made with mixed greens, beets, diced cucumber, shredded carrots, pepper and goat cheese, or feta. Very refreshing and tasty, a real appetite opener.

 

Family Sized Salad
Family Sized Salad

From the pizza’s sampled , we tried the Yellow submarine made with yellow San Marzano tomatoes, goat cheese and arugula, a Margherita pizza, a pepperoni, a Prosciutto di Parma pizza and last but most interesting one was with Asparagus, 3 cheese, bacon and truffle oil. Only mozzarella di Buffalo is used on all their pizzas, with the freshest vegetables and basil that is so aromatic, even cooked it still retains its aromatic principles.

Yellow Submarine
Yellow Submarine
Margherita
Margherita

The pizzas were all good, with their different flavors. The crust not overly charred yet still chewy and not hard. You can also ask for your pizza to be blonde. Less cooked or charred, but the crispiness is more than a plus. The flavors of the wood, giving them a woodsy, almost smoky taste. The beer was a perfect accompaniment.
You can smell nature in all the products here. They smelled so delicious, everyone grabbed a piece before I could take a picture. Hence the missing pieces.

Pepperoni Pizza
Pepperoni Pizza
Prosciutto di Parma
Prosciutto di Parma
Asparagus, Goat Cheese & Truffle Oil Pizza
Asparagus, Goat Cheese & Truffle Oil Pizza

If you like American Flatbread in Burlington, you will love this place. A family run place with a mission. They also run a non-profit, “the 52 Kids Foundation”, which assists orphaned children in Uganda.

Service is minimal at Folino’s, they encourages diners to direct the tips they would give servers to the charity.
Also different at Folino’s customers can buy a $20 “gift certifistick,” which they redeem for pizza and the pleasure of watching their stick burn up in the oven. Folino’s may not be a fancy place, on the outside, if driving too fast you can miss it, but it sure makes up for it on the inside. A must try when in Vermont; it is totally worth the drive outside town.

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Sushi St. Jean

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Sushi St Jean
1000 Boul. Saint-Jean (corner Labrosse)
Pointe-Claire, QC
H9R 5P1
Telephone: (514) 697-8383
http://www.sushistjean.ca
Cost $ 48.53 (including tax and tip)
Chef Hats: 1

When it comes to the A list of no -no’s for a restaurant, Sushi St. Jean hits the mark on all counts. It scores BAD on the scale for hospitality, service and food. Above all, it committed the ultimate proverbial blunder when we were there for lunch one very busy Monday afternoon.

We were meaning to try this restaurant for a while now and were very excited to finally get a chance to make it there. We chose a quiet day, so we can relax and enjoy our time together, but when we got there we misjudged its popularity. The place was busting at the seams and there was a line up outside the door, almost around the corner of the building. The wait would be approximately an hour. We patiently waited but were told not to block the aisle near the door as it was a thoroughfare for the waiters. Odd I thought! There was plenty of space for the waiters to manoeuvre around the restaurant, why not keep their customers happy by allowing them to think they were closer to getting in, especially on a crisp cold day. Once inside, if you block the aisle the head waiter or manager, who reminded me more of the “Soup Nazi”, kept yelling at you to stand behind the door and would send you back outside behind the doors in the entrance. Many people just turned around and left. Not very welcoming I thought.

Nonetheless, I ignored this while my pressure mounted at his incessant yelling. Finally, Brains and I were seated. We were given an electronic pad where we could choose what we wanted to eat. Brains and I thought it was innovative and very cool. There are no paper menus here folks and for the electronically un-inclined it can be frustrating. Albeit tons of wait staff, there is no service to help you and they seem frustrated when asking them questions regarding their electronic pad. You are on your own here to starve. Also, most of the staff that day also spoke barely any English or French or very little of both. I felt like I entered a third world restaurant in Asia and got a strange feeling that management had hired illegal immigrants straight from China. Who knows, being a franchise, maybe they have something else going and restauration is a blanket operation. It definitely is not their forte.

Well, that being said, Thank God Brains is electronically inclined, and we did not have too much of an issue choosing from the PAD. I am from the old school and going to a restaurant means i like the whole ritual of dining out, ordering from la Carte, speaking to a waiter, asking questions and all the formalities. But we managed to order a plethora of things from the PAD. Then a waitress who could barely speak English came to our table filled our water glasses, mumbled a few incomprehensible words and took our PAD away.

The Pad
The Pad

Brains and I looked at each other, smiled and shrugged, finally able to relax while waiting for our food; we started a deep conversation until we were interrupted but a loud clang and I felt something hitting my foot and leg. I looked down and saw a waitress picking up a broken beer bottle at my feet. Thank god I was wearing pants and leather boots as a piece of chard hit my leg, I immediately made a sarcastic comment to the waitress that it was a good premise for a law suit. The comment was not acknowledged, no apology from the waitress, she just picked up the broken beer bottle quietly and proceeded with her daily tasks, as if we were not even there and nothing had happened.

I started to get vocal at the lack of consideration and unprofessionalism, all the while, Brains noticed a piece of brown glass in her drinking water. I was not pleased and Brains was downplaying the scene I was about to create. She removed the piece of chard from her glass and asked for some more water when finally our waitress arrived.

It was all downhill after that. The food started to arrive, in very small portions, one after the other, very quickly. There was no more room on our table but they kept piling it on, sometimes not knowing what we were eating.

Sushi
Sushi

I felt so rushed I forgot to take pictures. The food, I can say was mediocre at best and not very nicely presented. The portions were extremely small; some dished looked soggy and limp. The waitress disappeared again, never to return and we did not get our fried squid. When we finally hailed her, it took almost an hour to get our soggy two pieces of squid. We never got to order seconds, even if we wanted to, because the service was extremely slow after the lunch rush and the place started to empty out. You would figure by now we could get some service at least, but the staff seemed to have disappeared for a long lunch break. So it’s not an all you can eat place, because the feeling here was get it all while you can in one shot, eat quickly and leave, no going back .

Sashimi for Two
Sashimi for Two
Szechuan Shrimp
Szechuan Shrimp

For $ 15.99 per person and $1.00 for tea, it was a steep price to pay for the bad experience, and for the lack quantity and quality of the food and terrible service.

Gyoza
Gyoza
Seaweed Salad
Seaweed Salad
Sushi Pizza
Sushi Pizza

Exasperated I asked for the bill and left quickly, vowing never to return to any of their establishments.

 
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Restaurant Charles Baillargé-Hotel Clarendon-Quebec City

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Restaurant Charles Baillairgé (Hôtel Clarendon)
57, rue Sainte-Anne / Des Jardins
Québec City, Quebec
G1R 3X4
Tél. : 418 692-2480
http://www.hotelclarendon.com/dining-en.html

When I fell in love with Frenchie , I fell in love with Quebec city. So I make it a ritual that once a year we spend a weekend there just visiting, walking around, trying little cafes, shopping and dining out. I would love to stay at Chateau Frontenac which has been on my bucket list for the longest time ,but instead we stay at this quiet little boutique hotel called Hotel Clarendon, which Frenchie knew about many years back. Upon entering the hotel for the first time in 2010, I fell in love with this cute little place and its old world charm. Through our window we could see la rue des Jardin lined with flowers and people walking to and fro. It was the closest I could come to Paris at this moment. The rooms some rather small are quaint, well furnished and the toiletries alone were of high quality that one can revel about.

On this visit from the onset, I had started a cold on the drive down. Not a good sign, as I had a list of top restaurants I wanted to visit, like Panache, Le St Amour and maybe Laurie Raphael again. It never fails in November as soon as the onset of flu season arrives I always get sick. This season was no different, even though it was spring, I managed to hold off till now and bang on an important weekend out of town I sat there in my hotel room nursing my wounds.
I did manage to muster up enough energy to haul my carcass to the ground floor for a quick bite to eat at the Hotel dining room restaurant called Charles Baillairgé. With the plethora of good restaurants to try in Quebec City, I had never thought of eating here before and found no need to either. But tonight was an exception, as I did not want to descend into the bitter cold and windy alleys of Quebec City with the way I was feeling.

The restaurant really evokes the typical Parisian cafe with its dark wood and mirrored paneling, wainscoting, white tablecloths and dim lighting. Next door you will find a comfortable lounge done up in the same feeling with a fireplace ,leather arm chairs and baby grand piano and the sounds of a live jazz band playing on weekends.
Here you can sip cocktails if you are tired and don’t want to leave the hotel after walking the streets of the la rue Petit Champlain or the climbing hills of Old Quebec . My suggestion save the cover charge and sit in the restaurant sipping a digestive after your meal, you can still enjoy the sounds of the music filtering into the dining room.

The menu at Restaurant Charles Baillarge boasts having a mixed menu of both local “du terroir” and international cuisine. The chef Yan Dekytspotter brings an interesting choice of menu to the table with new trends and inspiration from local products and some of the old classical crowd pleasers from France. There is plenty on the menu to please all ages and taste buds. A must try is the local cheese, ciders and vegetables from Charlevoix, and the fish from Côte-Nord.
What I liked about the menu upon opening the front cover is the historical tidbit about Restaurant Charles Baillairgé and the hotel. Built in 1870, it is one of the oldest operating hotels in Québec City and maybe in North America; and the restaurant is one of the first in the area. For those of you who are wondering who is Charles Baillairgé , he was an architect, land surveyor, civil engineer, and an author born in Quebec city from 1826- 1906 . He was from a long line of sculptors, painters, and architects that began with his great grandfather, Jean Baillairgé. Who left an indelible mark on the city, therefore it was only befitting that they name part of the hotel after him.

The hotel which looks inside and out, very turn of the 19th century with its art deco style , is very reminiscent of the old world luxury of times. Some of the interior has been refurbished in art nouveau styles, most notably in the public areas, and some rooms have period touches, and others are more modern, but each have their own charm and are in good taste. The hotel offers all modern day amenities. The restaurant and lounge area a little cache conserves the charm of yester years.

We started our meal this evening with two glasses of Lindeman’s 99 –Shiraz from Australia at $ 9.00 a glass and a potage of leek at $6.00 each. The soup was creamy and velvety with the right consistency of leek; this was warm and comforting on a cold spring day. It hit the spot and made me feel much better. I could have had a cauldron as in medieval times with two loafs of rustic bread. The wine bold and warming spread some heat through my veins.

Potage de Poireau
Potage de Poireau

Not having much of an appetite I settled for a Salmon tartar at $ 12.00, that I thought would be light and not upset my stomach. The tartar was overly spicy with pepper and served with Ritz crackers, really! After a few bites I couldn’t have any more, my stomach was starting to rumble and swell. The level of spiciness was too much for me in such a delicate state. I ate the fresh cucumber slices and crackers and Frenchie finished it off for me. He waved it off as me not feeling good. He said he enjoyed it and although spicy hot, he said it wasn’t too bad for him.

Salmon Tartar
Salmon Tartar

For is main meal Frenchie ordered the Poitrine de Volaille, at $ 22.00. This came with a large sautéed carrot and herbs and creamy very creamy mashed potatoes. He enjoyed his meal, but wondered about the potatoes as they had more the consistency of grits; but then it was a French restaurant not southern. I write it off as maybe the cooks hand slipped and added too much milk and pepper. Even the best of kitchens have an off night. I was having an off weekend. For dessert, I had a warm tea and off to bed to sleep.

Poitrines  de Volaille
Poitrines de Volaille

I would not completely write off Le Restaurant Charles Baillairgé, the prices are very reasonable for hotel dining and I have had much worse. Our waitress Nicole , had the whole dining room to serve, although empty when we got there , she kept her cool ,served us efficiently ,with a smile ,made sure we were comfortable and had all we needed. If you are a guest at Hotel Clarendon, this is worth a try. On a good night, the dining room and jazz are worth it alone.