KYO Bar Japonais
Hotel Place d’Armes/St.Jacques
711 Cote de Place D’Armes
Chef Hats: 3.5
Cost: 3 persons= $ 151.54
KYO Bar Japonais, located on the ground floor of Hotel Place d’Armes on the Cote of rue des Fortification and St.Jacques is yet another brainchild of the Antonopoulos Group. For those who are not familiar with the name, they own many of the fine Boutique hotels and a slew of restaurants located in these hotels in Old Montreal; like Verses, Maggie Oakes, Méchant Boeuf, Bevo, and Modavie.
KYO situated in the spot that use to house the now defunct AIX- Cuisine du Terroir was one of the first in the area. Opened in summer of 2013, it serves great Japanese Isakaya type fare in a fun atmosphere that was lacking in this part of Montreal. On board you will find Chef Terrence “Ding” Ting formerly of Zenya showcasing his beautiful presentations, mastery of sushi making and his minute attention to detail and taste. Every dish is packed with great flavours and incorporates local produce and with a mix and fusion of Quebecoise favourites. The setting and decor like most of the restaurants located inside this hotel whisper shades of sexiness with its billowing curtains of colored themes. See Suite 701 on upper floor with its pink and purple hues of color.
KYO is different from the rest of the hotel with its old historic charm; the only thing reminiscent of most buildings set in Old Montreal is the red brick walls. KYO has an urban clean look to it with its panelled wood walls, Asian themed lighting and red curtains. Like a cute Bento box, it exudes charm and looks like it has been lifted out from the future and planted there. Once you cross the threshold of the elevator doors, you feel like you could be in any modern day pub from any area of Montreal, with its rows of high wood tables and black leather stools lining the center of the room. KYO has a little nook for private dining for four and this is where we sat this evening. The alcove facing the street was our own private haven from the hustle & bustle of this busy Japanese Isakaya and it can get loud with the echoes of voices, music and festive atmosphere as the evening progresses.
KYO is known for its extensive Sake list and great cocktails, this evening it was only befitting that we start with Hakutsuru Junmai Sake for $14.00, recommended by our waitress Chloe; who treated us with white gloves and was very attentive to our needs for the most part of the evening. Going on the week we dined there was the Annual Happening Gourmand Festival, so we ordered from the special menu for $ 26.00 per person for a three course meal. It is a steal and worth going this route if you plan on sampling the food and drinking more.
I had the pleasure this evening of dining with my side kick and better half Brains and my friend the Indian Goddess whose birthday we were celebrating this evening. Brains, who is on an endless quest for good Japanese food ordered a Miso soup and the Indian Goddess ordered the Kaiso Salad. The Foodie ordered the Tataki Maguro for an additional $ 6.00, but well worth the price. The drawback with the menu for festival is that you only have two to three items to choose from.
Nonetheless, the Miso soup was packed with fresh ingredients like tofu cubes, green onions, shitake mushrooms and fresh seaweed. It did not taste like instant Miso soup base mix that you find in other lower end Japanese restos. It hit the spot on this frigid cold Montreal night.
The Kaiso salad consisted of a mix of meslun greens, seaweed, slivers of green onions and halved cherry tomatoes with and sesame salad dressing. Goddess was a little disappointed, the salad she thought was sparse, but it was a decent start and healthy.
The Tuna Tataki was a generous portion of six slices of raw tuna on a bed of shredded daikon, green onions and rounds of marinated jalapenos peppers packed with kick and flavour. Everyone thought that this was the better of all the dishes sampled from entrees.
For mains we ordered Chicken Yaki, Marinated salmon and Yasai Yaki Udon. The chicken Yaki with Mirin came beautifully presented on a slate plate. Served with kimchi, large king mushroom, zucchini, potatoes and green onion garnish, it was delightful and sweet.
The Salmon was perfectly cooked and not too dry. It sat on a bed of sweet potatoe puree with steamed bok choy and edamame and soy reduction. The flavours were heavenly with the sweetness of the puree and soy reduction against the bitterness of bok choy and edamame.
The Yasai Yaki Udon was one of the best that Brains had tasted in a while. Served with large cubes of Tofu, Japanese style Udon noodles, bok choy, red peppers, zucchini, asparagus and crispy seaweed garnish. Too bad the portion was small but expected for a tasting menu. Another bowl was in order.
For dessert, we had Pinky Ginger cocktails for $ 13.00 to ward off the cold weather blues. It is made with Shochu-a Japanese liqueur, Chambord and fresh crushed raspberries and ginger. This cocktail is a must and highly addictive. It is refreshingly good and goes down smooth and easy. Along with our drinks we ordered 2 portions of Vanilla Pudding cake with pistachio powder, served with custard cream and fresh fruit. The cake was sort of generic, but the cream and fruit made up for the dryness of the cake.
What we really enjoyed for an additional $4.00 were the Yuzu Beignets. These were decadent!
We got three sugared doughnuts for all to share. Suspended over the bowl by a chopstick below we discovered a rich sweetened condensed milk and sprinkled black sesame. Sugar overload but we just kept dunking our beignets over and over again in the creamy sweetness and could not get enough.
This completed our evening and we were perfectly satisfied. As we left the restaurant/ bar, it had completely filled up with young revellers and a real buzzing energy. We understood why it was so popular; we enjoyed everything at KYO, from our seating arrangements to the service, decor, and food above all.
We had a wonderfully easy and hassle free evening as we waited for the valet to bring us our car.
We were happy campers as it was easy sailing this evening all for except the Montreal traffic.
I definitely must put it on my best list for another visit. I would have loved to try so many other items on the menu. My list keeps getting longer. Hummm, I do love Montreal and the food scene.
6518 St Laurent Blvd/Beaubien
Chef Hats: 3.5
Cost: $ 69.95 ( 1 person, full meal with wine, tax & tip)
Restaurant Douro located on upper St Laurent Street in the heart of La Petit Patrie / St Edouard is going into its 12th year of operation this year. Flying below the radar, no one would expect to find a Portuguese restaurant in Little Italy. We are so accustomed to finding many of them lower on the Main in the Plateau. But Douro is very competitive in comparison to the Old Portuguese restaurants of lore. It has a modern twist, modern décor and a good menu with all the old typical Portugeuse classics.
Upon walking into Restaurant Douro, I found it to be very reminiscent of Café Ferreira on Peel Street when it first opened many years ago. With its blue & white tile mosaic wall, it felt like more like a sister restaurant but at affordable prices. In the evening the restaurant is well lit and bright; it has a clean crisp fell to it with its white walls, trimmed with yellow and splashes of blue. A fine dining establishment with white linen covered tables and wooden chairs; it takes us to the lands of oceans and sun. The menu boasts a good mix of fish, seafood and grilled meats and all the Portuguese favorites starting from Tapas to Grilled sardines, Bacalhau Potato Croquettes , Lobster and Shrimp, Caldo Verde soup , Pork and Clams, Grilled steaks ,chicken and heavenly desserts to boot, and of course the proverbial Portuguese favorites natas. We received copious amounts of food and everything tasted on par and authentic.
The wine list has all the Portuguese favorites and heavy on the wines of Douro. I opted for my usual a glass of Vinho Verde by the glass for $.12.00 but got a Douro Duas Quintas-Ramos Pinto 2014 –instead. It tasted different from my usual vinho verde, but I did not question it as I preferred it instead. It was crisp, light and refreshing a good start with my entrée of tapas. My fellow dinners ordered a bottle of Periquita, which they enjoyed very much and Super Bock Beer.
Service I must say was not top notch, I waited about 15 minutes at coat check and no one ever came. I then decided to bring my coat with me to the table and hooked it behind my chair. Everyone seemed too busy to be accommodating. Our boisterous waiter was very loud and nervous, maybe it was his first night on the job he kept going back to kitchen halfway between sentences, like he was checking on things and was not sure of the menu.
We were served olives and cheese as an amuse bouche for all to share and good Portuguese bread with olive oil for the table.
We placed our orders and our meals a mix of entrees and main meals arrived quickly. The presentations were lovely.
A few of us had the Soup of the Day as a starter which was a cream of watercress, their version of Caldo Verde for $ 5.95.This was light and creamy but lukewarm. It lacked a little flavor.
I ordered two entrees this evening and opted out for a main meal. My entrée of mixed tapas for $ 27.95 was served as a main with the others. This came in a sectional plate with garlic shrimp, grilled calamari &, sardines, chorizo, cod ball croquettes and shrimp patties. The mixed tapas platter allowed me to try most of the entrée items listed on their menu. They were all very delicious and flavorful and filling. The Cod fish croquettes my favorite were perfect, they were not fibrous, overly fishy or oil laden or greasy.
The shrimp patties were just as good and different, a first for me. The portion of large shrimp, a meal in itself and the sardines, which are not one of my favorites, were tasty and not too salty. The chorizo which was lightly grilled was just as satisfying and with the good portugeuse bread was too much for me to finish.
Most of my dining pals ordered mains only. We had a mix of dishes but well rounded choices.The clams were plump and not too garlicky, a generous portion with a wine jus, that was just heavenly.The grilled calamari had come highly recommended and beautifully displayed did not disappoint either. Served whole and grilled with a mix of sautéed vegetables, the squid were beautifully browned and tender this also cost $ 27.95.
Main courses turned up one winner after the other. The seafood Casserole was amazing. Served in a steel dish casserole, the seafood rice was a stunning dish served in a portion that would easily satisfy two people. The broth was heavenly, the rice was flavorful, and the amount of fresh seafood was outta this world. Topped with a two scrumptious lobster tail, the dish included pieces of tender codfish, small scallops, clams, shrimp, squid and mussels. The dish is pricey ($44.95), but the portion size and the amount of seafood was a deal, especially if shared by two.
The grilled Portuguese-style chicken for $ 22.95 was a little steep in price compared to other counterparts, but it was perfectly grilled and tender, it came served with a nice green salad, and fresh vegetables and a side order of crispy fries and piri-piri sauce.
All dishes sampled were to everyone satisfaction and no complaints at this table.
For desserts I had a usual espresso and Douro’s traditional Pastel de Natas for $ 3.50 each. This is a traditional portugeuse custard tart, made with egg custard, which are at their finest here. Freshly baked and served warm the filling was melt in your mouth perfect. Order two as one is not enough.
The piece de resistance and a must is the Natas de Ceo” Natas from Heaven”. A vanilla pudding flan served in a glass goblet and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and a strawberry coulis . If you are the pudding aficionado, it is a combination of explosive sweetness; creamy, smooth, eggy and sweet.
I enjoyed my night at Douro and wished I would have had the appetite to eat more. But I did manage to sample a little of my dining pals dishes, which left me craving for more. The only thing that threw me off was the service, how can such a well rounded establishment miss the mark and lack professionalism. To differentiate yourself from all others, you have to offer what others do not. The prices are not cheap and Douro is definitely fine dining. I loved the décor more than any other Portuguese restaurant of late. But the service left me disappointed. I would return maybe in distant future, it is a good restaurant. But next time, I’ll settle on the seafood casserole to share.
538 Place Saint-Henri/ rue St.Jacques
Phone: (514) 316-7234
Chef Hats: 5
Cost: $ 176.55 (2 Persons cocktails, wine tip & tax included)
I am in love with H4C and its chef Dany Bolduc, so this review is biased. I fell in love with the food and the ambiance of the restaurant on my first visit. I love the way his mind works with his representations of culinary creativity. I love the way he is so meticulous, ingenious and original when it comes to choosing different produce and placing a multitude of different flavors on one plate. To some, it may seem too much to palate; but I love the explosions of different flavors that I get with every bite or morsel of food. I love the fact that I cannot or even try to replicate an iota of what I ate at H4C. This is what makes going to H4C not only and adventure but a worthwhile experience and different from many fine dining establishments.
I took advantage of this during last November Montreal à Table to try H4C and sample a three course meal for $ 41.00 per person. At this price it was a steal and such a worthwhile trip out to St-Henri.
H4C is relatively obscure to many unless you a real foodie, but it has been around since August 2013. H4C is the inception of Chantal Paradis and Marc-Andre Vallée the founders of the Architectural firm Dimension 3. Together they had a vision and created H4C. They enlisted the help of Dany Bolduc, who at the time was the chef at Reservoir and together set up shop in an old Post Office in Place St Henri.
The transformation of the restaurant in this old greystone building is not only quaint but charming.
It is not a large space, seating only about 60 people but it is functional and always full. The ambiance and décor is soothing, inviting and elegant; especially in the evening with its subdued lighting. I found it to be romantic, even though we were seated close together and the noise level is loud with its tall vaulted ceilings. It is a little gem of a box with its exposed brick walls, black leather banquettes and wooden tables, which add natural elements to the space. The old bank safe doubles a cool wine cellar and you have a bar at the far end of the wall that can accommodate those who just want to go for a quick bite or just cocktails. The service is very professional and the food is exceptional.
The wine list is impressive with mostly private imports and their cocktail menu although short has some interesting drinks like Darth Vador. We started this evening with a drink called Jean Davant for $ 13.00 each, which is H4C version of a Mojitos, but better. It was very refreshing and had a kick of bitters and Vodka. With my meal I ordered a Rose Bohème- Languedoc 2015-Julien Peyras, a mix of Grenache and Mourvèdre by the glass for $ 14.00, a bottle is $66.00. A really good wine to go with any meal of fish or game, it was light and not overpowering.
We were starved and could not wait for food, so we ordered the Fresh Baked Bread with Country Style butter for $ 3.25 to wolf down with our drinks. This was worth the price if you need bread with your meal, but not necessary as the food here stands alone and bread is really not necessary. The bread was served warm and we found it was very good.
Along with that we were immediately served our amuse bouche on a flat slate plate; sitting alone on this large plate it consisted of a perfect shaped rectangular turnover stuffed with cooked cheese, like a tiropita. It was delicious and the perfect teaser, but we wanted more.
Next we had a choice of six items on the menu; we chose for starters the pancetta of duck on a papadum, with smoked onions and curry, and dabs of lime coriander sauce and tamarind. A good mix of Indian flavors, the papadum was crispy and the duck sublime. This was a first for my dining partner who is not much of a duck fan and was having it for the second time. The duck pancetta was fashioned -bacon style, thinly sliced atop the rectangular shaped papadum. The duck was tender and complimented with the onions and spurts of tamarind and lime. The papadum was crispy underneath and when mixed together the flavors were just heavenly. We loved the textures.
The foodie chose, for her appetizer a Gnudi Mtl for an additional $ 6.00. The ricotta Gnudi has been on their signature menu for some time and is a must try. Very original in concept, it is basically more of a soup than a plate of pasta. It is a powerhouse of flavors. It is an intricate creation which consists of a flavorful based onion soup topped with a creamy dollop of gruyere infused cream and fried rice cracker croutons. Hidden underneath the cloud of crema were three little gnocchi style pasta pockets. How ingenious mixing a fusion of three classic recipes in one French, Italian and Asian flavors. I loved this and would have wanted more, it was so smooth and velvety. The flavors were outstanding.
For Mains we both choose the Tandoori style Octopus on a sweet bed of coconut basmati rice, with red onions on the side stuffed with a caramelized yogurt and topped with crumbled cashews. This dish a first in my many years of fine dining blew me out of the water. Not only was it gorgeously presented, the mix of flavors just melded together perfectly. It contained the perfect mix of sweet and savory.The octopus was perfectly cooked and tender. The rice sweetness enhanced by the coconut flakes.
The two sides of red onions stuffed with yogurt were delicious, they were soft and creamy mixed together with the octopus it enhanced the flavors tenfold. The crunchy cashews added the perfect texture to the overall dish; if you do not have nut allergies. I can eat anything and this is what I look for when dining out. I admire creativity, structure and technique that is unattainable personally.It takes many years of experience and professional training to achieve this. This is why I like dining out at places like H4C.
Everything sampled tonight was not only fresh and delicious; it added a whole new level to dining out experience and it did not end there. Dessert was still in tow, and I will try to describe it as best as possible. It is all about deconstruction at H4C, another mix of flavors. Like creams, quenelles and small square triangles of deliciousness.
I had my proverbial favorite a lemon meringue dessert, with cucumber and gin. A wonton crisp atop a light lemon custard sauce, topped with a dollop of baked meringue and green onions. Served alongside a quenelle of cucumber sorbet. Who would have thought, such a mix of sweet and summer freshness was going to be so delicious and so so refreshing.
The second dessert ordered was Squash gelatin like squares with grated crumbled black Sapote, which a tropical fruit from the persimmon family, better known as chocolate pudding fruit, a pain d’epice, served with three quenelles of vanilla, mango ice cream and dabs of crème fraîche. No explanations needed here. Let your imagination go wild.
We loved H4C, but it was short lived as we ate and left. The line up at the door was growing and this is the disadvantage of booking a first sitting. Our table was needed, but we were not rushed out and after completing our meal, we decided to have our coffee elsewhere. If the bar was not full we would have sat there and had a digestive all night. H4C is just the type of place you want to stay and linger.
1708 Rue Notre-Dame W./Richmond
Montréal, QC H3J 1M3
Phone: (514) 439-1130
Cost: $ 81.40 (per person, tax & tip included)
Chef Hats: 3
Some establishments from their inception have it all together with a winning formula.With a combination of good planning, lots of business experience and backing by a great designer they are bound to become popular hang outs.Grinder in Griffin town has been since its opening in December 2012, just this type of place. Started by the owners of Hachoir on St. Denis St, Jean-Francois Corriveau & Lea D’Amboise, it’s named after the English version of its sister restaurant.
The big draw at Grinder, besides the prime cuts of good quality aged steak has got to be the decor and ambiance. Grinder was designed by Zebulon Perron, whose name is synonymous with numerous restaurant design awards and his knack for creating a functional and fun space for whoever enlists him to the task.
Grinder and its surrounding area have replaced what the likes of The Globe & Buonanotte were on the lower main in its heyday. The area around Richmond St. draws in the beautiful people that have plenty of disposable income, like to show it and spend it in beautiful urban modern settings. It also draws in a slew curious wannabees and has become synonymous with being a great place to go with friends to have a wild time, grab some grub and hang out with the all types of people.
I came across Grinder in summer 2014 purely by chance, while having dinner at The Richmond down the street. Passing by, I spotted Lamborghini & Ferrari’s at the valet waiting to be parked. Loud music spilled onto the streets from its opened garage door windows and the crowd looked hip and cool.We took a peek inside and were impressed by the decor. We spotted a long modern bar set in the center of the room surrounded by mirrors, surgical type lighting and subdued hues of beige leather seating all while creating a chic ambiance. The place looked welcoming and fun and we placed it on our bucket list of places to try. That summer and fall we tried endlessly to get reservations at any hour to no avail and then we gave up. So two years later, when my dining group booked a reservation I jumped at the chance to go. I was excited, but my experience at Grinder did not start well and the excitement was short lived.
After leaving my car with the valet, I was greeted by a busy & distracted hostess at the door. She tells me that my dining companions got there too early and were relegated to Le Bureau, another watering hole a few doors down on the next block, because there was no place at the bar to have drinks.
She then proceeded to bolt out the door to show me where I can find them. With my umbrella in tow, I walked to Le Bureau. I stood at the door short of breath and told my story of how I was sent here by the hostess at Grinder to look for my dining companions. The maitre d’ looked puzzled and asked me what the names of my friends were. “No one by that came in”, I looked around and then he suggested I check out Foxy’s next door.The same scenario played out at Foxy’s. Frustrated, I went back to Grinder, this time irritated.I told the hostess I could not find them anywhere and she allowed me wait at the side of the bar with another woman who was part of the group.I introduced myself and we patiently waited 20 min. I was asked by a bar maid what I wanted to drink and then she walked away before taking my order. Two young chaps were seated at the bar next to us and asked if we wanted to sit on their laps. We had a good chuckle as they looked about 18 years old and very drunk.That is when we finally spotted our friends who had shown at the door for a second time to be seated for their reservation. The girls had opted out for drinks at the two places suggested and instead went to look at the Grinder Boucherie on the corner. Alas we were in and got seated at a long table against the wall.
Our waitress was really friendly and professional which made up for the lack at the door.We scanned the menu and ordered our drinks. I was not in the mood for steak tonight and found the cuts rather pricey. I started with a Belgian Moon Beer for $7.00 to go with a burger. Someone at our table ordered the Pimm Royal cocktail for $ 12.00.
Grinder has a good cocktail menu from anywhere to $10-$15.00, as well as a good wine list by the glass or bottle at reasonable prices. Its bar is always full and very vibrant. If you don’t come for dinner a drink is a must. The atmosphere is fun and cool.
After being served our drinks, our order was taken immediately by our waitress who explained the menu thoroughly and gave a great explanation of their choices for the evening all the while trying to up sell the steaks. It seemed that our table was almost oblivious it was a steakhouse, as we went the opposite direction and ordered more fish than anything else. Aside from the Tandoori Halibut, the other fish items on the menu were mediocre at best.
For starters I ordered Beef Carpaccio for $16.00 which came with thinly sliced raw beef, parmesan shavings, garnished with arugula and pine nuts. No big complaint in this department, the Carpaccio meat was perfect and satisfied my craving, but it could have used a drizzle olive oil or balsamic reduction for impact and more flavour; it was a little dry.
Mary ordered Salmon Tartar for $ 15.00, the presentation was a little messy, she had to ask for the baguette on the side and did not find it optimal, and it lacked flavour and was rather bland.
Lina ordered Fried Calamari $13.00, these too were a little soggy and not of the best quality. The Mediterranean Salad for $ 13.00 was also a whopping mess; the cheese looked runny and must have sat too long in the kitchen close to a heat source.
For our Main meal, two of us ordered the Burger 1855 -$ 19.00, served with Grinder homemade ketchup, bacon & pickle, aged cheddar and Dijon mustard and a side order of fries and mayonnaise. The burger was satisfactory but lacked an aged meat Angus style flavour.
The fries were decent but ordinary. The price quality was not there.
Mary ordered the Braised Short Ribs for$ 34.00 with infused espresso butter, topped with pickled onions & arugula salad. She thought she was getting Baby Back Ribs a la Baton Rouge style, an error on her part. She was surprised at how small the dish was and the lack of accoutrements. The price quality just was not there and the short ribs were bland.
Lina and Gerry shared the Cornish Hen for $33.00, with braised Savoy cabbage, cornbread and gravy. The chicken was flavourful and plenty for both, but the accompaniments left much to be desired. Like most expensive steakhouses, sides are an extra and anywhere between $ 6.00 to $10.00 and a salad will put you back another $ 13.00-$18.00.
Richard ordered the Tandoori Halibut for $ 38.00 and the Halibut was well received and was enjoyed immensely. It came served with a quinoa tabouleh, cherry tomatoes & cucumber salad, a ginger yogurt and fried wonton. The halibut was tender and not overcooked. The salad was refreshing. The mix of Mediterranean and Asian flavours was original he thought.
For dessert, I ordered the Pudding Chomeur for $9.00 and an espresso for $ 3.00. I loved the pudding which came served in a bowl with mounds of crème fraîche on the side. It was a little on the sweet side for me, but with lots of crème fraîche it was palatable. It’s a good contender for those with a real sweet tooth and I was only able to eat half.
Lina ordered the cheesecake topped with caramelized pears and a base of caramel coulis for $9.00 , which she found light and of perfect consistency. It was light and not overly sweet with the caramel on the bottom.
Mary ordered a chocolate Baba au Rhum style cake-$9.00 topped with slivers of almonds and served with raspberry coulis and a duo choco- vanilla whipped cream on the side. She found the Baba a little dry and on the heavy side.
As the evening wound down, the music got louder. We couldn’t hear each other speak any longer; the table went silent, as we just looked at each other. We were happy to have tried Grinder but we all left little disappointed and deaf. We stood outside in the rain talking for a little while longer. Maybe we were getting too old for this type of scene.
Omnivore Tour Montreal 2016
SAT- Société des Arts Technologiques
1201, Boul. Saint-Laurent
The Omnivore Tour is a worldwide food event showcasing some talented chef’s from around the world with their food demos, culinary events and dinners. Founded by Luc Dubanchet, in Deauville France in 2006 the goal was to popularize foodies and non-foodies alike about local and international chefs showcasing their signature dishes as well as their talents. Via cooking demos and dinners the event exposes the chefs to the masses by getting them out of the formal kitchen to tell their stories.
In its 11th year running, the Paris Edition takes place this year on March 5th, and is returning to Montreal in late summer. Always looking for educational culinary events to attend in our great city, I attended last year Omnivore Tour in Montreal in 2016. The event is held in different locations but mainly at the SAT -Société des Arts Technologiques on St Laurent Street on the third floor which houses the Food Lab and the SATosphere. Behind the dark curtains lies an expansive spherical room that one would not know exists. The room is equipped with giant screens and cameras that pan on an island in the center of the room allowing the audience to get an up close personal view of what is being created. The experience is awe inspiring as though you are being transported to another realm. The room goes silent and the voices of the animators reverberate and encompass the audience, grabbing your full attention.
The SAT and the Food Lab has now become my go to place to learn about the latest in food trends and to experience culinary events by local chefs and visiting chefs alike.
The cooking demos took place over the course of the weekend on Sept 17 & 18, 2016. To which I only attended the Sunday morning edition. The first day had chefs like John Winter Russell of Candide, Leigh Roper of Foxy, Jonathan Rassi- of 400 Coups, Pedro de Artagoa-Iraja Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, Thomas Carney, Maggie Cloutier & Alexis Grison from Montreal Plaza, Daniel Burns- Torst-NYC, Juan Lopez & Samuel Pinard –Farine, Julien Burlat- Dome Sur Mer, Anvers, Belgium & Patrice Demers- Patrice Patissier, Montreal.
Outtakes from the Omnivore Tour 2016-5th Edition-Sept 18, 2016:
Marc-Andre Jetté from Restaurant Hoogan & Beaufort showed his speciality of cooking on charcoal. Showcasing his Carrot Salad grilled with Nantais carrots , fingerling potatoes and on a bed of pureed potato. For dessert Burnt Lemon custard.
Marc Landry from Landry & Fils showcased his complex concoction of traditional Quebecois Buckwheat pancake with crunchy molasses made the way our old ancestors created it. The smell of the sugar cooking permeated the hall and we learned the secret behind crunchie bars.
Jason Morris- of Le Fantome who had just returned from Japan brought us his knowledge of how to make perfect rice and a dish of Wagyu Beef make with seaweed brought back from Japan. He had to be the most interesting.
Are surprise was we got to sample the food and take up close pictures of the food, once created.The rest of the afternoon had Aaron Langille-Le Diplomate, Adrien Renaud-Food Lab, Antonin Mousso Rivard-Le Mousso, Guillaume Foucault-Pertica Vendome France.
The line up this year had some amazing contenders and 2017 promises to be just as interesting. As this event gets popular each year, early bookings are a must. The demos are free, reservations are required and limited. All other dinners must be paid in advance. Your tickets are emailed to you, save your email as it is your passport to entrance into a technological advanced setting.
Maggie Oakes (Hotel William Gray)
426 Place Jacques-Cartier
Cost: $ 133.66 (one person valet included)
Chef Hats: 4.5
While we were all hibernating in winter of 2016, a new boutique hotel called Hotel William Gray quietly opened in the heart of Old Montreal by the reverable Atonopolous group. Hidden on a narrow cobblestone street at 421 rue St. Vincent, which resembles more of an alleyway than a street; you would surely miss it if you would not be walking by on foot. Attached to the hotel is restaurant Maggie Oakes which opened shortly afterwards in summer 2016.
Deemed a heritage site, the hotel is integrated into Maison Edward-William Gray which was erected in 1773. It expands to the end of the block width wise and spills onto Place Jacques Cartier with its large terrasse. You can access Maggie Oakes directly from the square or you can go via the hotel , arrive in style and get the valet to park your car inside for a reasonable fee. The restaurant is named after Edward William Gray wife Maggie Oakes. She came from the first family of fur traders who had arrived in Quebec back in the heyday.
Manning the kitchen at Maggie Oakes is executive chef is Derek Bocking who has worked at restaurants like the Globe, Icone, Pois Penché and Chez Ma Gross Truie Chérie. In 2011, he was also a Top Chef Canada contender and he brings lots of experience to the table. The night we were there we were told that Mixologist Jason Griffin had also just returned from the Grey Goose Pourmaster competition where his signature cocktail Bonbon Americain had won accolades.
The restaurant is stunning with its Art Deco theme and its green live wall. Sleek in design with a mix of black and wood tables and leather seating, it is a blend of old and new. It has wood paneled walls and some old mason stone walls, a long marble inlay that seperate the room. A glass floor to ceiling wine cellar, a modern bar and subdued lighting. Not only is the space functional but pleasing to the senses.
The rest of the hotel design follows the same principles, a mix of old and new world themes along the same lines; a newly constructed glass exterior facade along old stone brick homes, melding the two as though they belong together. From the lobby you can smell Europe and Italy with the strong aroma of espresso permeating the lobby, and emanating from the second installement of Cafe Olympico that is accessible from the hotel lobby.
The live green wall at the end of the restaurant also adds an eco-friendly theme to the overall look and respite from the concrete slabs and cobblestone streets of old Montreal. All the garnishes come from here and are available year round.
A glass case exhibits beautifully aged meat and showcases some expensive choices like the Tomahawk at $110.00 and a variation of other cuts. Just ask the waiter he will be pleased to go into details about what is available. Maggie Oakes optimizes class, evoking a mix of old and new and it comes with at a hefty price.
We started this evening with a pint of Grimbergen beer for $12.00, a Belgium blonde fruity and light with hints of sweet and bitter and a Bourbon Americain for $15.00 a mix of Grey Goose Vodka, Sherry, Fruit liqueur and verjus; worth the price very refreshing and a sure winner. A glass of Lamay Latour Bourgogne was also ordered for dinner for $11.00.
For Entrees we sampled a phletora of items. I started with my favourite Tourchon de Foie Gras for $16.00, it was perfect and of good quality, slightly chilled and served with country bread and grain mustard.
Maria & Lina had the seasonal salad of duo of bettraves with roquette, walnuts and fromage de chevre brulee for $12.00 was a mix of red and yellow roasted beets, with a two generous portions of grilled goat cheese, served with walnuts and arugula.
The trio of Albacore Tuna Tartar for $ 15.00 which was presented atop a base of sesame vinaigrette, with dabs of smoked carrot coulis, topped with pine nuts and a mint garnish; original in presentation and flavour.
Also ordered was a Crudo de Petoncles in lemon, lavender, radishes and cappucine leaves for $18.00 . It was a light and but very aromatic.
Helene had the Tartare de bison for $ 16.00 served with Caramelized cipollinis, aïoli à la citronnelle, with bonito flakes served with baguette crostini. She enjoyed the flavors of the bison meat, not gamey at all, and he caramelized onions and aioli complemented the meat and raised it to a different level. Although she felt the portions were small and could have had one or two more rounds.
Jimmy had the Bone Marrow / Os à la Moelle Rôti for $16.00 was served with grilled green tomatoes, Avocado and taro chips, totally satisfying and very tasty.
For mains we sampled, the Sweet Potato ‘‘manicotti’’ for $19.00 which was one of two pasta dish on the menu made with homemade ricotta and grilled red pepper sauce, it was sweet and packed with flavor. The ricotta was fresh and silky and the red pepper sauce packed a punch.
Donna had the grilled Artic Char with a base of quinoa, peppered squash, green beans and a salad of fennel and Italian sausage of soppressata for $ 28.00. We did not see much Sopressata in the plate and were wondering if it was hiding under the fish. The dish was good minus the Sopressata. Lightly infused with anise flavors and cooked to perfection.
I had the Grilled Bavette for $ 26.00 it came with a green tomato chimichurri sauce and home crispy fries on a bed of fresh vegetables. I really enjoyed my Bavette as it is an inexpensive cut of meat and if not overly done can be very tender. The chimichurri sauce gave an otherwise bland meat an added kick. The Bavette came served a perfect medium rare and hit the spot.
Also sampled by Trinadad was the Veal short ribs infused with smoked maple, atop a celery root puree and Market vegetables and a Bouillabaisse of mussels in clams in broth for $ 26.00.
Also ordered was a Bouillabaisse in fish broth with ample fresh clams and mussels.
Marie Helene had the Burger Bulleit for $ 19.00 a fair price. It was served dressed with Sauvagine cheese, Kumato tomatoes, and Bourbon glazed onions and homemade fries and ketchup. The burger was a little undercooked but was to her liking. The meat was ground from aged Angus chuck and was not overly dry. The cheese added a twist from the usual cheddar and the onions sweetness against the acidity of the Kumato tomatoes. A good bet for those who just want to have a good burger.
Desserts sampled was a slice of Chocolate Cake with Strawberries, a large piece of chocolate cake topped with strawberries, an Apple strudel made with two puff pastry shells topped with apples and ice cream and Pudding Chomeur that was to die for and served in a cocotte ceramic bowl, and a Coconut tartuffo that was decadent. All desserts were between $10.00-12.00 each and coffee and tea was not included in the price.
The service at Maggie Oakes was professional and friendly, the knowledge of the waiters and waitresses is exceptional, and they are well versed in the menu and make the experience fun and entertaining. We also received a complimentary glass of Prosecco with our dessert, which was unexpected. We had a wonderful time with great company and lingered till past midnight exchanging stories. We were not rushed and never asked to leave. The atmosphere was welcoming and we continued with more drinks until it was time to go home.
Ending today February 5th is the 2017 Happening Gourmand festival and a three course meal will only put you back $ 30.00. It is worth to going this route for the budget minded individual in the future, it is an affordable way to sample this first rate restaurant. But if you feel like splurging , going à la carte is the best way to sample some very fine cuisine.
Notre Boeuf de Dame
5732 Rue Sherbrooke O./ Wilson
Phone: (514) 369-9090
Chef Hats: 2.5
It is not burger week in Montreal, but one can enjoy a good burger at anytime. Notre Boeuf de Grace is a good contender and a good place to start. Aside from it being a trendy hang out located in the heart of NDG; it also serves a very good burger. Opened in Early 2015, it still commands long line ups and is as busy as ever.
The well thought out idea of Notre Boeuf de Dame is the brainchild of Mammad Abedi and Jonathan Dresner who also have Double Pizza and Kupfert & Kim (Toronto) listed a on their resume. Designed by Walter Qualizza who has also helped designed restaurants like Le Pois Penche, Apollo (defunct), Zibo and Vertigo and La Belle et La Boeuf. The theme is young and fun with a mix of eclectic décor, like chalk boards, brick walls and dark wood pub style furnishings. Do not expect the white antiseptic look found in many classic burger joints here; the feel is more gourmet gastro pub .Needless to say, all this comes at the expense of a hefty price tag for a burger, which can put you back from anywhere to $ 8.00-$15.00 and this does not include sides.
We dropped in on Notre Boeuf de Grace on the weekend while passing by the neighborhood and looking for a place to eat lunch. We were seated immediately, but near the door. The place was brimming with young families and people of all ages not only having burgers but also brunch. We had come specifically for the burgers but were surprised they served breakfast.
We got our menus immediately and ordered our drinks which consisted of Ice tea and a cola for $ 3.00 each.
We quickly scanned the menu and decided on starting at the basics with a B.G. (Bloody Good) Classique burger on regular bread for $ 8.00, a Dad’s burger for $9.00 which is the namesake of the last business that occupied this spot for years; so we wanted to pay homage. The Dad Burger was original and true to DAD’S Bagels Indian Roots, a 6 oz burger with Tandoori mayo, cilantro, cucumber, tomato and pickled eggplant.
The Classique was generic. The presentations of the burgers were a little sloppy, the bread was flattened and they kind of fell apart. We also ordered a side of fries to share, which also could have been better presented; at least they were crispy.
Eater BEWARE, they do not overcook their burgers everything is cooked pink as stated on their menu. You can opt out for the bread and have your burger wrapped in lettuce instead for those with dietary restrictions. The patties are made fresh daily and you can create your own with your choice of toppings and bread. You can also order patties to take home for $42.00 a dozen or $4.00 for individual ones.I was also not impressed with the quality of the meat, but then once you taste Angus meat you can’t go back.
Nonetheless, all that said, the concept at NBG is very cool and so is the décor. They make a bold statement with the black and red writings on the wall. The mood is festive and fun with loud music and I can see why many people may like it. Although the locale is a very narrow and does not fit many people; their terrasse in summer probably holds more people than the inside.
You can see this from the popularity among the family-friendly neighborhood of NDG, which for the last decade or more has become inhabited by a younger and artsy demographic. It is only befitting that they cater to neighborhood demands. This is obvious with the resurgence of hip businesses popping up in the stretch between Girouard to Cavendish. We can give NDG kudos for being innovative.
Notre Boeuf de Grâce offers a plethora of fare to satisfy all of its demographic cravings and also is drawing those from afar. It has liquor license and serves creative cocktails, beers and wine. You can also come for just dessert and coffee or ice cream and sit on the terrasse in summer. It is worth a stopover no matter where you live.