Helena

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Helena
438 McGill St. (corner St-Maurice St.)
Phone: 514-878-1555
Website: www.restauranthelena.com
Cuisine: Portuguese/Tapas
Chef Hats: 4.5
Cost = $189.67 (excluding tip)

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Restaurant Helena Exterior

If you are looking for an exceptional Portuguese restaurant to dine at Restaurant Helena in Old Montreal is the Go TO place. Located on McGill Avenue and corner of St Maurice, two steps up from street level, this restaurant which opened in summer of 2012 is a shrine to Portuguese fine cuisine and tapas. I consider it to be one of the best in town by a long shot with its innovative techniques and its beautiful presentations. It is fresh, hip and fun for all age groups. Restaurant Helena is named after Chef Helena Loureiro. To some, her name may be obscure, to others if you remember Le Vintage on St. Denis or Portus Calle on St Laurent; she is the one manning the kitchen.
Helena Loureiro was born in a small village near Fatima, in central Portugal. Her passion for cooking took shape in the 1980’s when she studied at the Catering Institute of Lisbon. In 1988 she moved to Montreal and completed her training at the Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec, obtaining her diploma in 1990. She then worked as Executive Chef at Le Vintage Restaurant, and at Alexis le Traiteur for twelve years.
In 2003 she opened her first restaurant Portus Calle, a fine cuisine Portuguese restaurant in the Plateau area. With many years under her belt and lots of experience Helena has now opened this restaurant in her namesake and another gourmet boutique called Cantinho de Lisboa selling Portuguese specialties. She has a huge passion for bringing us the pleasures of her maternal homeland through fine dining.

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Restaurant Helena (Interior)

Upon entering the space that houses Helena Restaurant I was taken aback by the wonderful decor. The front of the house really gives you a feeling that you have entered an urban chic European restaurant in upscale Lisbon with its huge display of folkloric plates mounted in a boxed frame on the wall. The space is bright with its high floor to ceiling windows and exposed brick walls. The orange honey wood floors, dark blue chairs, orange banquettes and bar stools, evoking the colors of Azores islands. The tin embossed ceiling tiles emanating rays of sunshine in the dimly lit room. In the center of the space as the room narrows you will find a busy bar and a more private area in the back for larger groups or parties.
We got a table across from the bar which aside from the kitchen was really the epicenter of the hustle and bustle. We got to watch the waiters and waitresses coming back and forth for drinks and got to witness their symbiotic camaraderie. Through the loud music our sympathetic and friendly waiter greeted us with a smile and explained menu . He suggested as first timers to the restaurant we sample their Tapas degustation menu which consists of 6 items that were going to give us a rounded idea of their best items of the house and an introduction to Portuguese cuisine. We decided to go with Tapas although I thought at the moment it may not be enough food, but I was wrong. I was so stuffed by the end of the meal I hardly had room for dessert.
The dinner for two Tapas degustation menu at $55.00 per person ,consisted of Red tuna pavé “saisi”, with cream of green peas, mint and chouriço, the Salada de Esparagos-Grilled asparagus salad, Serrano, roasted and mashed almonds, & São Jorge cheese, the Lulas Grelhadas com molho verde -Grilled squid, with salsa, U-10 seared scallops, foie gras torchon,bacon marmalade and corn purée, Chouriço assado-Grilled chouriço, garlic and parsley, and an dessert tray of nanta ,chocolate mousse, cookies fresh fruit salad, watermelon, raspberries and strawberries, cheesecake triangles and espresso’s. For wine we went by the glass a Rose Douro-Red Ninfa $13.00 and red Papa Figos at $ 11.00. It perfectly complimented the mix of meat and fish tapas we received.

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Amuse Bouche of Olives, Paté et olive oil and Bread

We got as a complimentary bowl of olives, bread and pâté of cod to start our meal and to nibble on with our glass of wine before the array of tapas began. The first tapas dish to hit the table was the tapas of seared tuna with white and green peas, sautéed with slivered onions and a hint of mint. The tuna was perfectly seared on the outside and red on the inside, tender and tasty with just the right flavors.

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Pavé Tuna with Peas

The second tapas was their big draw asparagus and Serrano ham salad, a definite must, it is the best and a meal in itself. Constructed around a twirl of shredded raw asparagus, the dish also contained two grilled asparagus steams, grilled almonds, slivers of Sao Jorge cheese and ruffles upon ruffles of that sublime Serrano ham. The bitterness of the raw asparagus offset the rich Serrano and salty cheese.

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Asparagus Salad with Serrano Ham

The third dish was a grilled squid atop a fresh cubed tomato salsa and zucchini grilled rounds. The squid was perfectly grilled and not overly chewy, offset by the freshness of the cubed tomatoes, onions and zucchini, and a few asparagus tips, a total palate cleanser. Frenchie who is not a big seafood fan loved this.

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Grilled Squid

The next tapas dish was big what they call U-10 seared scallops, with foie gras torchon, bacon marmalade and corn purée, U10 scallops are dry packed scallops that are not packed in any kind of preservative that cause them to absorb water and lose flavor. Top chefs will use only dry packed. The U10 designation means that they are 10 or fewer to the pound, which means that just a few of them make a substantial meal, and the creamy, rich flavor is all there. The U10 scallops are great, best baked or broiled. These were just the right consistency, the torchon de foie gras adding to the flavor as scallops can be rather bland, the bacon marmalade I could not taste because of the softness of the foie gras, the corn purée sauce hit the mark and drove the dish over the top.

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Scallops in corn pureé with Tourchon de Foie gras

The last dish was the grilled chorizo, two slices of diagonally sliced grilled chorizo, topped with peppercorns, salt and spicy in consistency, a great ending to the meal.

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Grilled Chorizo

To finish, for desserts we received one platter for two which consisted, of a combination of the small desserts typical Portuguese favorites, small natas tartlets, cheesecake, mousse and fresh fruit and our usual espresso’s to complete this fine meal.

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Dessert Sampler Platter for two

We loved Helena’s, and will definitely return, the service was exceptional , our waiter is what cemented the deal and next time we will return and hang out at the bar to enjoy more of their delicious tapas and wine.
Restaurant Helena on Urbanspoon

Juliette & Chocolat ,Centropolis Laval Inauguration October 10, 2014

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Juliette & Chocolat
525, Promenade du Centropolis
Laval (Québec)
H7T 0A3
Tel.: 450-934-9484
http://www.julietteetchocolat.com

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The history of chocolate is a long one, but it can be said that it began as far back as 1900 B.C.with the Aztecs Indians. As Aztecs folklore has it they believed that cocoa seeds were the gift from the Gods of wisdom. They believed the seeds to have special aphrodisiac powers and we can surmise that this is somewhat true. We fast forward to present day, when chocolate in all its glorious forms, shapes and sizes is sold across this vast world of ours in many countries and to every walk of life big or small. It is gifted for special occasions to our dearly beloved, it is used to comfort and soothe the soul on a cold day and mainly used when anything is ailing you as a simple pick me upper. It gives us energy or a quick boost. It has indeed become an aphrodisiac and is loved by so many.

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This maybe one of the reasons Chocolaterie Juliette & Chocolat has become a true chocolate lover’s paradise. Now in six locations in and around Montreal, it has come a long way since its inception eleven years ago with one little shop on St Denis Street in the Latin Quarters. Opened by Juliette, a French Ex-pat who was born in Brazil, Juliette’s journey started with a passion and a frustration for finding the perfect hot chocolate that reminded her of the one her grandmother use to make; a thick, creamy velvety brew. (Sounds familiar, yes there is a movie about it with the same name). After travelling the world Juliette settled in Montreal, studied management, then chocolate and crepe making in France, only to return to Montreal to open her first chocolaterie.

 

I had the pleasure of first discovering Juliette & Chocolat four years ago when Frenchie took me to the Laurier Street location one evening to have dessert. I automatically fell in love with the place and with him. I returned a few weeks later with Brains who is a chocoholic; she dreams, eats and breathes chocolate. We came to try their chocolate fondues, which we thought were just purely decadent. In the following years we tried various locations in and around Montreal when we felt that strong wind blowing.

 

Last Friday on October 10th, I had the pleasure of being invited to the inauguration and opening of the new Juliette & Chocolat at the Centropolis in Laval. How could I refuse! I am addicted to the place. Nestled among an impressive list of restaurants that make up the Centropolis, Juliette & Chocolat is the temple of chocolate in all its forms and the Go TO place for anything chocolate in any area of Montreal.

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While talking with the Marketing coordinator, Frenchie and I learned that they have revamped their menu to include more meal like items on their menu and not just chocolate or desserts. This location of Juliette & Chocolat is also different from the rest in terms of decor and seating capacity, it will set the pretense for the others to follow when it comes to redecorating the other stores.

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Sampled that evening were mini buckwheat waffles. These were a perfect mix of sucré et salé with hint heavenly butter and onions. The mini waffles just melted in your mouth and dipped in chocolate fondue made them even more irresistible. I am already craving to return to Juliette & Chocolat to have a full portion of the waffles and their sweet and salty deliciousness.

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Also sampled that evening was the tuna salad on endive leaves, ham and cheese puffs, fruit and brownies squares dipped in fondue chocolate fountain. All items can all be found on their menu in various forms. To wash this all down, we were given a cider raspberry drink cocktail. To boot we received a gift bag to take home that contained their heavenly hot chocolate which we had the following night, it was indeed thick and creamy, and better than any generic brand by a long shot, a little box containing a peanut butter chocolate square that Brains swallowed whole by popping it in her mouth with a quick flick of her wrist and a jar of caramel au chocolat noir from their boutique, which I used a few tablespoons of in my sautéed wild mushrooms platter for our Thanksgiving day lunch.

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MIAM MIAM MIAM…my sister the funghi specialist wanted to know what magic potion I had concocted for the wild mushroom mix….it’s my secret…and Juliette’s of course!

The new Juliette & Chocolat location in the Centropolis is very impressive with their wall to wall windows, their slick modern urban decor of crisp white walls and leather banquettes; their long counters that house not only chocolates but fine desserts and pastries for any palate. Their boutique of speciality products is neatly organized on shelves in a minimalistic sort of way. The big plus is its large space and the late hours. Open from Monday to Thursday and Sundays till 11 pm, midnight on the weekends. They even serve breakfast or brunch as they are open as early as 7: 00 a.m. Juliette & Chocolat is a great the place to just hang out with friends, on a lazy Sunday afternoon sipping heavenly creamy sultry hot chocolate or munching on their delectable desserts for two with that special someone on any given night. A guaranteed fix to satisfy all your chocolate cravings., mine too as I am definitely coming back to Juliette & Chocolat over and over again, but my next thing is to try their brunch and those waffles.

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Juliette Et Chocolat on Urbanspoon

L’Imperial-Granby,Quebec

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Restaurant L’Imperial
320 Boul Leclerc O/ rue St Antoine N
Granby, Quebec
J2G-1V3
Tel: 450-994 1922
Chef Hats: 3.5 +
Cost=$ 121.87
www.restaurantimperial.ca

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L’Imperial-Dining room
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Wine Cellar

You will find Restaurant L’imperial a one and a half hour ride out of town to Granby, Quebec to be exact. Located in a corner of small isolated residential mall, one would wonder why drive all the way here to have dinner. I can give you many reasons, not all may make sense to you, but a true foodie does all kind of things to indulge in the world of culinary pleasures. Once in a while I love going for country rides in my convertible to enjoy the summer days and the wind in my hair. During these rides I work up quite an appetite, it is then that I try to book a restaurant along the way that has piqued my fancy. This was such this case this weekend at L’Imperial. Having heard many good things about the place I choose to venture forth.
Opened in summer 2013, L’imperial is co-owned by Chef Francois Cote, Nicolas Dubuc and Richard Lafrance. Francois Cote who you will recognize as the mild manner handsome chef has worked alongside Fred Morin and Dave McMillan at the famous Joe Beef. Then who has not. The influence is evident here at L’imperial in some of its dishes, yet it is very very different and very subdued. The price of the food and wine are totally reasonable compared to its counterparts, it just as tasty and of high caliber.
What surprised me when I entered the restaurant was the narrow pleasantly minimal but well decorated dining room in the front of the restaurant; very bistro style in feel with its dark wood tables and banquettes, and the bar sits adjacent to the wall lined banquettes. I thought a very small space but comfortable. Instead we were ushered to another dining room on the other side totally hidden from the bar area with its large windows and open airy feeling leading to the terrasse. The wide open space was done in the same decor but was more of a formal dining room with its large blackboards and floor to ceiling glass wine cellar, dark tables and chairs and honey wood floors. Very urban chic for a rural restaurant, but very modern and pleasing on the eyes and the senses. The bathroom area was another thing to write home about, ultra modern in style as well, with its basins on the outside and private stalls, different in concept. Pure Genius!

We sat down, scanned the menu and the blackboard, and decided on their Table Hôte du Soir menu at $ 28.00, and a bottle of red wine Nero D’avola- Cataldo from Italy at $ 36.00. The service was professional and friendly.

We also ordered an extra entree of the Crispy Dumplings at $9.00 as I was having an Asian food craving. The dumplings came on a wooden plank, a generous portion of crispy pork filled triangles topped with peanut sauce and sesame seeds and sriracha sauce. These were absolutely decadent and very flavorful and very crispy. The meat pockets had just the right seasoning of pork meat with shallots and ginger.

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Crispy Dumplings

Frenchie ordered for his entree from the Table Hôte menu the Cochonnailles, moutardes au dates et marinades. This consisted of a slice of Terrine made with different marbled pork meats atop homemade sweet date mustard with baby gherkins, marinated pickles, a few slivers of onions and slices of diagonally cut baguette. The homemade mustard totally enhancing the terrine de Cochonailles and the sweet & sour marinated pickles offsetting it perfectly.

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Cochonnailles

With my order, I received the salad Garde Manger to open up my appetite and help with digestion. Not that I needed any help. A big heap of romaine and red green leaf lettuce in mild oil vinaigrette topped with fresh grated parmesan. But I was full after this and could have stopped here.

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Salad Garde Manger

But for my main meal I still had the Tortellini Bolognese made with duck coming. I enjoyed the tortellini and liked this variation of the Bolognese sauce, but by now I found it very heavy. The pieces of dark duck made the sauce very rich and gamey. The flavor was smoky but in a good way and especially enhanced with the wine. A meal all by itself to completely be enjoyed, only able to get half of the way through it, I had it to go.

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Tortellini Sauce Bolognese au Canard

Frenchie had the Poulet Fermier Rôti aux Herbes, Roasted farm chicken with Herbs. This was a quarter of a chicken roasted and served with a mix of potatoes, onions, zucchini and squash in a light jus or gravy. Flavored with fresh herbs, the chicken was super tender and definitely fresher than the typical supermarket brands; Frenchie was pleasantly surprised as he said that he was really able taste the difference, the side accompaniments with its juices added the extra oomph to the meal.

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Poulet Fermier Rôti aux Herbes

For dessert we both had the Pancotto caramel with fleur de sel, crème Chantilly, and pralinées de noisettes torréfiées and espressos. This had to be the piece de resistance. L’imperial is known for its desserts and it’s a shame if you don’t have one. The Pancotta came served in a stemmed glass topped with Chantilly whipped cream and a raspberry, it was so delicious, and I had no problems finishing it even if I was full. It went down so smoothly and each spoonful was as good as the first, creamy, with the right mix of sweet, salty and crunchiness of the pralines and the maple goodness at the top.

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Pancotto caramel with fleur de sel, crème Chantilly, and pralinées de noisettes torréfiées

It was time to go home and before the long ride back stuck in traffic I decided to go to the ladies room at the urgency of Frenchie who said it was a must see. That’s when I actually realized that there were different dining spaces further into the restaurant and the chic concept bathroom in a small hallway.
All tastefully decorated and very accommodating. Glad to see that this humble Estrie native has brought his talent and vision back home.

L’imperial is definitely worth the visit.

L'Impérial on Urbanspoon

Suite 701-Place d’Armes Hotel

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Suite 701-Place D’armes Hôtel
701 Cote de la Place D’Armes/ St Jacques
Montréal, Québec
H2Y 2X6
Telephone: 514-901-1201
Reservations: Open Table

http://suite701.com

Chef Hats: 2.5
Cost: $ 91.41
Type: Restaurant Lounge

Restaurant Lounge Suite 701 situated inside the Place d’Armes Hotel is a great place to hang out for drinks or just a quick bite. It boasts having one of the nicest rooftop terraces, with an exceptional view of the Old Port. Having been opened now for many years, it is part of the Antonopoulos group chain of restaurants, which also owns Hotel Nelligan.

The façade and interior of this 19th century Neo-classical building is absolutely stunning and very romantic, and no doubt with a very European feel. Stepping inside, Suite 701 takes your breath away, with its high ceilings, white walls, dark wood panelling, pink neon florescent lighting, huge birdcage chandeliers above the bar and its white wispy sheer curtains covering its large windows. The place is spacious, yet chic, inviting and modern. The staff is uber friendly, fast, very accommodating and attentive. The young and pretty waitresses wore matching pink, purple body tight dresses, very sexy.

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Suite 701 Bar

This evening my co-conspirator and I were indulging in a little inebriation. Suite 701 is an ideal place for just the task at hand. It offers many traditional martinis and a selection of familiar wines and beer at a descent price. It has an in house DJ who plays killer music, lots of new but lots of old favorites tunes for those old forty and even fifty year old something’s. You just want to stay and listen to the music which transports you back to the old days and another era. It also has a reasonably priced menu with all the French favorites like oysters, Tourchon de foie-gras, bavette, tartare, and some Italian dishes such prosciutto and melon, risotto, veal hamburger and ciabatta sandwiches. The menu is also fish and meat heavy, but rounded with some very good choices. This evening, was casual for us so we both opted for the Veal Meatball burgers with crispy pancetta, buffalo mozzarella and basil with a side order of fries.

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Veal Burgers and Fries

The food arrived almost as fast as we had finished ordering, leading me to believe that they either have ESP or they are prepared them ahead of time. Nonetheless, they tasted fresh and not overheated. The hamburger consisted of a large ground veal patty topped with melted mozzarella and a crisp pancetta slice and a large dollop of tomato sauce between two large buns. The burger was good but I was not too impressed with the tomato sauce as it was tasted like it came out of a can and it was a little excessive and poured out of the sides as you bit into the burger making it hard to eat and a little messy. But the veal patty was tender, tasty and appropriately seasoned as an original Italian veal meatball. The basil instead of lettuce added a kick and originality to the flavor as well. This came with a large mound of fries and a side order of mayonnaise to go with the frites, which were also sprinkled with parmesan cheese. These were crispy and tasty. The meal and our wine and beer hit the spot, we decided to linger and listen to the music before heading for a walk in Old Montreal. It was kind of of windy this evening otherwise we would have moved to the rooftop terrasse. Inside we opted to stay in the warmth of the room and enjoy the ambiance with more drinks, move closer together on the comfortable lounge sofas and just chat and enjoy this time together in this cute romantic boutique hotel.
Suite 701 is a definite return to try more on their menu and the rooftop terrace on a warmer day.

Suite 701 on Urbanspoon

Toqué

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Toqué
980 Place Jean Paul –Riopelle
Montreal, Québec
H2Z 2B2
Telephone: 514-499 2084

http://www.restaurant-toque.com/

Chef Hats: 5
Type of Cuisine: French
Cost=$ 317.33 (excluding tip)

The first thing that struck me when I walked into Toque on this peacefully quiet rainy evening was not its convenient location next to Palais de Congrés in Old Montreal, nor the carefully planned space and décor of this upscale restaurant. It had to be what I call the wall of chefs. Hidden in a corridor next to the bar you will find a type of Andy Warholesque display of some notorious and other famous chef’s that have been influenced by Normand Laprise . Through this display I saw an inkling of the greatness that is Toqué and the sense that it is the driving force in this city when it comes to creating culinary geniuses.

Anthony Bourdain coined it well in a segment of his “Layover” show when he called Normand Laprise the Godfather of the culinary world in this great city of Montreal. Anyone who claims to be a real foodie knows the story of Normand Laprise and has followed him from his humble beginnings at Citrus on St. Laurent, to the opening of the original Toqué on St. Denis Street in 1993. Fans of Normand Laprise have followed him to the move at the new location in Old Montreal, and the opening of Brasserie T in Quartier des Spectacles. They have bought the Toque cookbook and have read the countless write ups. They have watched him on the media making numerous guest appearances over the years thus making him a household name and cementing his reputation permanently as more than just a top chef in this city.

A forewarning that most of you are already aware of, going to a place such as Toqué comes with a hefty price tag and do not expect cheap when dining here. Lots of my friends and acquaintances are afraid to eat here and may have stayed away because they feel spending so much money on dinner is way out of their budget and ridiculous. All I am going to say is save up your jellybeans and go to Toque once in your life time, it is a must do experience and incomparable to any other dining experience you will ever have.

Once here you can go all out by getting the complete tasting menu with wine pairings at $200 a person or scale back by ordering à la carte and you can save a few hundred dollars. I suggest Toqué for those specials occasions when you want to go all out or impress that special someone or for a business lunch or dinner. Whatever your choice, they will be impressed. This was the case for me this evening when going to Toqué.

Let me be honest with you and tell you a story, the first and last time I went to Toqué was 20 years ago when it was situated on St Denis. It was a much smaller space back then but the reputation was just as grandiose as today and I was forewarned it was pricey. I knew what I was getting into but it was for a special occasion, a Valentine dinner celebration with my husband. Dinner at Toque back then put us back about $220.00 for two. After dinner, I heard it all the way home. The experience was none to pleasant and I Iearned quickly that not everyone was the ultimate foodie and willing to spend lots of money on a gourmet dinner. In another time and continuum, things changed and I met Frenchie who appreciates the finer things in life as much as I do. Hence the return this evening for Frenchie’s birthday after so many years and it was all worth it.

Toqué is perfection all around, from the start, it is total professionalism. The staff and waiters are of the highest caliber, our waiter was French and they are the best. You may beg to differ, but their training is like no other. He was great at suggesting the perfect wine with our meal, a Beaune -1er cru 2004-Les Coucherais, JC Rateau at $116.00, even if it was a little above what I wanted to spend, it was perfectly aged 10 years, strong but not overpowering and complimenting our meal perfectly.
Tempted to try the tasting menu this evening but I opted out as it was too much food and wine for me. The tasting menu has to be ordered for the table, therefore if one does opt out its not possible for the other to order it. It worked well with us this evening as Frenchie also just wanted to go via a la carte.
Our wine was decanted and set behind us in a nice carafe and they delivered two amuse bouche of cubed watermelon in olive oil topped with meringue. Very refreshing and a great palate cleanser. The olive oil was so light and the flavors very delicate. A very innovative combination. I would never have thought of.

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Watermelon Amuse-Bouche

For our entrees, Frenchie had Foie gras Terrine $27.00, served with peach, brioche bread, pistachio crumble and camelina oil. The nutty and crunchiness of the pistachios added an extra zing to the usual foie gras.

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Terrine de Foie Gras

I had my sautéed wild mushrooms for $ 23.00, mixed with fried bread, soy, radish, yuzu sabayon, black garlic puree and sesame. This is a must try for mushroom lovers and totally decadent. It is made to perfection here with the different flavors and even for those non mushroom lovers; you will really enjoy this dish.

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Sauteed Wild Mushrooms

For my main dish I had the Beef Rib eye at $52.00, done medium rare on the inside, it was tender and delicious, topped with a mix of crispy greens, served with raspberries and sauce, sliced broad beans and more chanterelles mushrooms, black garlic puree, in a bordelaise sauce minus the extra foie gras.
The rib eye was done to perfection and very tasty, the topping a melange of crispiness and flavors indescribable.

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Rib Eye

Frenchie had the Mont Laurier Cockerel, at $50.00, with pieces of lobster, mushrooms, leeks, in lemon thyme sauce. It was tender, juicy pieces of chicken in a delicious lemon flavoured sauce, with pieces of sautéed leeks totally mouth watering.

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Mount Laurier Cockerel

Cockerel is a young Rooster, this one comes from in Mont Laurier in Québec from Societé -original, raised in a natural environmental setting, this society is a conglomerate of family companies featuring poultry and game of all sorts. They trap and raise poultry and game in a respectful manner locally in Québec.
Normand Laprise is known to get much of his produce from local farms in Quebec and helps to promote products from the terroir, always featuring the best products from Quebec in his restaurant. It is his way of him giving back to the land, a pioneer and trend setter in this sort of thing he makes no qualms about it, this is a known fact that Toque is among one of the first restaurant in Montreal for last 20 years that follows this tradition.
You can obviously taste the difference in your meal while dining here and we sure did. After dinner we lingered to finish our great bottle of wine. It was at this point that our waiter did not return to ask us about dessert. Only to discover that a misunderstanding had occurred with the waiter, when Frenchie mentioned we would finish our wine, he believed our meal was complete and after finishing our bottle of wine he promptly brought us our bill. This kind of suited me fine as I was full. I did not really want dessert, but a coffee may have been nice. Frenchie was left a little perturbed and believed the waiter let the ball drop on dessert. I was sure it was a misunderstanding, clarity is important especially when dealing with waiters who are very skilled in client psychology, they are skilled on picking up cues. It did not cloud my opinion of Toque, just reinforced it. I was glad to be back here again and enjoyed every minute, the hefty price tag and all, a definite return someday soon but not in 20 years.

Toqué! on Urbanspoon

Boris Bistro

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Boris Bistro

465 Rue McGill/ rue des Récollets
Montréal, Québec
H2Y 2H1
Telephone: (514) 848-9575
www.borisbistro.com
Cost: $ 76.46
Chef Hat: 3.5
Cuisine: French Bistro

Do not get fooled by the name, “Boris Bistro” is not a Russian Restaurant. Though, it has got to be undisputedly one of the best open air restaurants in Old Montreal serving French Bistro type food. What makes Boris Bistro different from the rest is its old world charm. Housed between two buildings on McGill Street in the financial district you get the feel that you are dining in an ancient city of roman ruins but it’s actually a courtyard. Similar in look to the proverbial tourist trap Le Jardin Nelson in Old Montreal, this place is much classier, serving classic French favorites, fantastic cocktails and great wines. From the exterior the façade is a shell of what was once called a building, except once inside it reveals itself as an outdoor terrace with wooden tables and white umbrellas, trees, potted plants and walkways. Very romantic I must say, especially at night when it is lit up oh so nice!

The other half of Boris Bistro is on the interior for those oh so cold romantic Montreal winter nights. Done up in white walls with dispersed huge art pieces hung here and there, the look is clean fresh, crisp and minimalistic. You will see a scatter of modern glass vases of flowers and plants set against a predominately white backdrop. White tablecloths adorn the each table and a light wood bar and stools can be found against the wall alongside the restaurant.

I had visited Boris Bistro a few times over the years, the first being eleven years ago in January 2003 for a late night snack with my colleagues after our trade show. We were seated inside on this cold winter night. Being too tired and hungry I did not recall much about the place except that we chatted up a storm about the events of our Snow Show, which brought together the ski industry giants across Canada and the U.S. Those were the good old days and we shared a lots of laughs that evening and drinks.
The second time was in summer of 2008 when I sat on the cool terrasse enjoying a glass of wine and listening to some good music.

This evening after picking up Frenchie at work I decided to surprise him and suggested an impromptu dinner at Boris Bistro around the corner. Frenchie was in awe as he entered the terrasse; he had never really remarked the facade and did not expect to discover that this hidden gem lay behind this exterior. Unfortunately there were no more tables available on the terrasse that evening but our kind considerate hostess suggested an interior table near the large opened window overlooking the courtyard would be better on this evening when it looked like rain. To my surprise the interior had changed a lot and I found it to be more comfortable. Our view was perfect, the menu even better. We watched the people in the courtyard for a while before our waitress showed up to take our order and I spotted Michel Girouard with his Yorkshire terrier sitting next to him on a chair under one of the vast umbrellas in the yard. At first recognizing him but not being able to place his name, Frenchie and I discussed back and forth for a few minutes throwing out names of past of Quebec TV personalities of the 70’s and 80’s. If one was born at the time one would remember that he was quite a flamboyant character and opening gay at the time. When only but a handful of media personalities at the time in Quebec would dare, he was quite modern and avant garde for his time, a quite a trend setter. Well, this can be said of the people who dine at Boris Bistro.

After a little name dropping and people watching our waitress arrived and we ordered two glasses of wine, a Domaine des Trosi Noyers Rose 2012 – pinot noir de Sancerre –Loire at $11.00 and a Gelso Rosso Basicilcata 2010, Tenuta i Gelsi at $11.00. I must mention that their cocktail list is also fantastic with a mix of old favorites and some really cool cocktails. Worth a try!

Sancerre Rosé & Gelso Rosso
Sancerre Rosé & Gelso Rosso

For starters I had an endive salad at $9.00, which I had been craving for a while now. Tiny bites of chopped endives with large chunks of blue cheese, swirls of cucumber and beets and large pieces of walnuts, a different twist on the classic endive salad, but this one was better. The bitterness of endives and sweetness of cucumber and beets made this salad lighter and balanced in flavors.

Endive Salad
Endive Salad

My second entree was a salmon tartar at $11.00 served with baguette crisp and arugula salad side. Nicely presented, served on a slate plate and filling enough to satisfy.

Salmon Tartar
Salmon Tartar

In case I was still hungry I ordered a side of frites maison at $5.50 to go with my tartar. A generous bowl of crispy fries served with mayonnaise aioli dip. Delicious and complimenting the salmon tartar perfectly.

Who would have thought! Of course I was not alone in my demise of the French fry eating and Mr Frenchie helped me with the consumption of the frites…now making him Mr. Frenchie Fry!

French Fries with Aioli Mayo
French Fries with Aioli Mayo

Mr Frenchie Fry also opted for two entrees, the Old Fashioned Cream of tomato soup served cold like a gazpacho for $ 7.00, one of his all time favorites and a dish called Fiochetti -$ 12.00, dumpling stuffed with rabbit in duck broth. These five large pockets of noodle bundles, stuffed with ground rabbit meat were delicious. They were tender and savoury, the duck broth served as a delicate base. Topped with bitterness of arugula lettuce, as a garnish, but enough to be a side, you get the best of both worlds.

Cold Cream of Tomato soup
Cold Cream of Tomato soup
Fiocchetti
Fiocchetti

The service at Boris Bistro was prompt and professional. We came, we saw, we ate, enjoyed every minute and left to enjoy the rest of the evening in Old Montreal.
Boris Bistro on Urbanspoon

Les Enfants Terribles

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Les Enfants Terribles

1257 Bernard St W. /Champagneur
Montréal, Québec
H2V 3M8
Telephone: 514-759-9918
http://lesenfantsterriblesbrasserie.ca
Cost: $ 64.39 (excluding tip)
Chef Hats: 3
Type of Cuisine: French Bistro/Brasserie

The name ‘’Les Enfants Terribles’’ taken from Jean Cocteau’s 1929 novel of the same name evokes a tale of tragedy for two siblings, Elizabeth and Paul who after their parents’ death go through hardships, their jealousy and tragic games finally result in their untimely death. As negative in connotation as it may sound, this restaurant does not harbor or exhibit any of these trends. As a matter of fact as un-apropos as this name may sound for a restaurant, clientele do flock here in droves and have been since April 17, 2007. It must be the notion of children playing or the fact that maybe here you can  act out your mischievous tendencies. Whatever the case, this branché Outremont restaurant, is easily one of the most happening places on Bernard Avenue and their terrasse is always filled to the brim on a summer night with people enjoying themselves.

Opened by Francine Brule and Serge Bruneau, Restaurant “Les Enfants Terribles “ has garnished quite a reputation for being very good in this upper class neighborhood where tastes are considered a little more elevated from the rest of us plebeian Montrealers. The type of food served at Les Enfants Terribles can be categorized as French bistro type fare, but this restaurant calls itself a brasserie.
Expect to find on the menu, anything from soups and salads, as well as their renowned  Classic Caesar Salad, Fried Calamari, Foie Gras, Beef Carpaccio, Tartars, Fish, Flank Steak and fries, burgers, and pasta. What makes this restaurant so appealing to the locals is its comfort food, friendly unpretentious service and reasonable prices. The place is vibrant and fun making it a goldmine for the affluent Outremont crowd ,as well as the young professionals, couples and families who come from near and far, to enjoy a convivial meal.

As for the décor, it is basically lots of wood, school room type chairs and wooden tables. Some wall accoutrements can even be classified as rustic with a farmhouse décor feel. The center of the conjoining rooms sport a large central bar and in the corner  of the adjacent room you will find a floor to ceiling glass wine cellar that exudes a very urban chic feeling.

Tonight was a casual night for us , we sat inside as the terrasse looked too crowded and cramped. It was also very humid outside and I was already starting to overheat with my hot flashes. We started with two pints of IPA beers, which quenched our thirst. The heat was also not making us very hungry. It was a good beer and burger night for the Foo Foodie. So I ordered the Burger with Cheddar cheese at $ 15.00 plus an additional $ 2.00 for cheddar cheese, well worth it. The cheeseburger came with all the usual fixings and it was quite big. On the side as an accompaniement with the fries came two condiments an aioli sauce and mayonnaise. The burger was about a 1/4 lb. square patty topped with white cheddar, tomato and pickles . The ground beef was fresh, well done and very tasty. One of the best burgers I had in Montreal as of late .      The fries were served Belgian style in a steel container with a checkered black and white paper wrapper, beautifully presented but lacked the crispness  I expected and were a little overcooked. I had a few with my burger to appease my appetite but Frenchie  found them good and ate the rest.

IMG00085-20140809-2026
Le Burger Avec Cheddar
La Beer
La Beer

Frenchie, who is becoming the proverbial gourmand, had the Vine tomatoes stuffed with Beef confit, creamy polenta and arugula.

Tomates Vigne Stuffed with Beef Confit on Polenta
Tomates Vigne Stuffed with Beef Confit on Polenta

The Tomates Vignes dish is something more along the lines that Chef Éric Gonzalez would make. Who at the time of visiting Les Enfants Terrible was the Executive chef, but a few weeks ago  I heard he has left “The Enfants Terribles”, as the word is  he was brought on for a short period of time as a consultant. At least you can find Élyse Lambert there as sommelier, who has been getting great reviews for her work the last couple of years. Whatever the case, we went to Les Enfants Terribles because I like Eric Gonzalez work and you could definitely spot a little of his influence here.

Frenchie really loved his red plump perfectly round tomatoes, beautifully presented and mouth watering. The stuffing was delicious and creamy, perfectly complimenting the sweetness of the tomatoes. He really enjoyed it. No pretence here. Les Enfants Terriblse, is a great place for some fun, good beverages and great food, in a great locale. Our waitress was cool, competent, and attentive. She spoke to us in both English and French with no qualms. There was a real sense of neighbourhood friendliness to this to this place with no discrimination. On our way out, we decided to walk along Bernard Street to take a look at the neighborhood and I spotted Denys Arcand the film director seated at the terrasse with some friends enjoying a cool glass of white wine. Like I said the place does not discriminate and is definitely worth a try.
Les Enfants Terribles on Urbanspoon