Notre Boeuf de Grace

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Notre Boeuf de Dame
5732 Rue Sherbrooke O./ Wilson
Montréal, Quebec
H4A 1W8
Phone: (514) 369-9090
http://www.notreboeufdegrace.ca
Cost: 35.70
Chef Hats: 2.5

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Notre Boeuf de Grace Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

New Year Eve Celebrations with Champagne

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Champagne, Prosecco & Sparkling Wine

champagne
Champagne, Spumanti, Prosecco and Sparkling wines are synonymous with any type of celebration. It has launched millions of ships into the sea, it has been present at countless weddings and fetes, and of course, it’s a staple for everyone’s New Year’s Eve party.
The holiday is amongst us and if you want to celebrate in style, either with fine French champagne, Italian Prosecco or Spumanti or any other national sparkling wine tonight is the night. Choosing from among more than 12,000 brands of champagne and sparkling wine can be daunting. Read on for a brief history and some facts about bubbly, as well as my recommendations, that will help make your celebration memorable.

The story of champagne dates back to the 17th century, because of a relatively short growing season for grapes, monks in the French region of Champagne — about 150 miles east of Paris in northern France — were faced with the problem of excess carbon dioxide trapped in their wine. For these monks, the fizzy wine wasn’t a luxury product, but something that was indicative of poor wine making. Often called “mad wine,” the bubbly product was something to be prevented and not enjoyed.
In 1688, the monks appointed Pierre Perignon to oversee their wine making and cellars; it was Dom Perignon’s duty to refine their wine-making process to offer the French royal court an alternative to the heavy red burgundy wines that were so common in that day. And while he was never able to get rid of the champagne fizz, he did manage to create a certain type of white wine that stood up well to the bubbles and was well received by French royalty. When he had finally perfected his new technique, he famously exclaimed, “Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!”
The rest, of course, is history. The wine was a hit with royalty in France and England, and was soon exported all across Europe. Today, champagne is enjoyed all over the world by all manners of people. In honour of Dom Perignon’s contribution to the wine-making process, Claude Moet — who founded what would later become the world’s largest champagne house — named his signature vintage after the late monk.
Champagne vs. Sparkling wine
By law, only producers in the Champagne region of France are allowed to call their product “champagne`. Sparkling wine produced anywhere else in the world must, therefore, be called a “sparkling wine.” or any other name. And while some wine snobs will undoubtedly turn up their noses at the thought of drinking an “inferior” sparkling wine, the fact is that some excellent sparkling wines which can hold their own in a taste test against some of Champagne’s finest are produced in the United States, Canada and in other parts of the world.

Wine experts say there are actually noticeable differences between champagnes and sparkling wines. These differences are said to stem from the soil conditions and climate particular to that region of France versus those in other regions of the world. This can lead to profound distinctions in the taste of the wine, such as its degree of sweetness, its complexity of taste and its fruitiness. As with all matters of wine appreciation, however, this is largely subjective. What should matter most too any casual drinker is taste and personal preference.
Serving champagne
As is the case with any white wine, champagne should be served chilled, but only slightly; the ideal temperature range is between 43F and 48F, as colder temperatures will kill the subtle taste of the wine. Cooling the wine properly is an art in itself. Experts recommend that the unopened bottle be placed in an ice bucket containing half ice and water. Wait for 20 to 30 minutes. The wine can also be refrigerated for three to four hours and should never be chilled in the freezer.
Champagne should be served in tall flute glasses that are designed to improve the flow of the bubbles and the aroma. The glasses themselves should not be chilled.
When opening the bottle, the saying goes, “The ear’s gain is the palate’s loss.” The champagne cork should never be popped, but rather eased off to avoid losing any of the precious bubbles. Finally, leftover champagne can be stored for several days with a proper champagne bottle stopper that can be found at your local kitchen gadget store.
Here are just a few champagne and sparkling wine suggestions for your next celebration. You can pay just about any price for a sparkling wine or champagne from $20 to $2,000 a bottle, so it’s important to have a good idea of what you like and how you’re going to serve it.

Classical Champagnes for 2016:
Louis Roederer Cristal Rosé Champagne
Dom Pérignon
Laurent Perrier
Veuve Cliquot
Moet et Chandon
Mumm
Charles Heidsieck
Taittinger
Pascal Doquet Blanc de Blancs Coeur de Terroir 1er Cru Champagne
Dom Ruinart Rosé Champagne
Jacques Selosse Blanc de Blancs Brut Substance Champagne
Nicolas Feuillate Palme D’or Grand Cuvee

Sparkling Wines:
Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut
Henkell Trocken
Jansz Premium Cuvee Brut
Krug Grande Cuvee Champagne Brut
Bollinger Special Cuvee
Prosecco
Asti Spumanti-Martini & Rossi

Montreal Foo Foodie’s Best Memorable Eats of 2016

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It was a busy year on the dining scene for the Montreal Foo Foodie, even though I didn’t get to try more than half the new restos I wanted to try this year; which seems to always be the case. I stayed close to home and went back to lots of my old favourites in town.  I visited lots of casual restaurants but not by choice. Not that they do not deserve a worthwhile mention in this piece. I do not feel they were food worthy material and they did not leave me with a lasting impression.

There were also a few restos on my Bucket List that I never got a chance to visit and which closed in 2016, like Les Mas des Olivier. There were so many new restaurants that opened on a monthly basis that my list keeps forever keeps expanding. Budget, money, time constraints and lack of people to dine with is always a factor. It is always a more beneficial experience when you have someone to partake in your fanciful whims and enjoy a convivial meal together. It’s an added perk when a real die-hard foodie, is able to discuss their experience with likeminded people who enjoy the meal as much as they do.

This year I joined a Social Dining group that is has lots of fun ideas. Their choices of places to visit were optimal and made up my roster for the latter part of the year. My budget situation was also remedied this year, although I am still limiting my dining out to minimal levels. Spending only a few thousands of dollars annually this year, which although seems like a good sum of money for a vacation to some, it was my treat to myself and not much really when it replaces weekly food cost and a peace of mind.

I also had plenty of free time to enjoy life and return to my roots. Even if cooking took a backseat this year, I had time in August to visit the markets and make preserves. I went to a Demo Cooking class at Mezza Luna cooking School to learn how to properly can tomatoes for Harvest.  I canned Beets, Sauerkraut and hot red peppers this year and have been using them endlessly. I took two mini vacations in Quebec and Vermont this year that centered on food. The first brought me to a lovely Bed & Breakfast in Lac Megantic that gave me some insight on how to run a little Inn and also inspired me on nature’s bounty and how we can use what we have in our back yards to create delicious and healthy meals and also cure our ails.

Vermont always has a plethora of food ideas with their Farm to Table bounty; everything in Vermont has so much flavour, is so much better ,  the freshest and totally healthy.

I also went to two great food events that I highly recommend to all food lovers. The first was in May at The Saisons Mtl Event-with Marc Alexander Mercier, who privately cooked for us. The Second Event was The Omnivore Tour at The SAT Foodlab, in September, a series of demos by local and international chefs that showcased their special talents.

Of course I continued with my traditional Friday pizza nights and got to try some really good pizzerias that were fun ,exciting and perfection. Asian was high on the list of casual places and I discovered some local restos that merit a return. I got to fulfil many restos that were on my old and new Bucket List and 2017 will be just as successful and well planned out.

So here is my list of worthwhile mentions for 2016 that I sampled :

 

FINE DINING:

H4C-Place St Henri-Montreal à Table-November

Maggie Oakes- Old Montreal- Hotel William Gray

Damas-Outremont

Verses- Hotel Nelligan –Old Montreal-HAPPENING GOURMAND-January

Douro-St Laurent-St Edouard

 

LANDMARK:

Auberge St. Gabriel- Old Montreal

 

BEST PIZZERIAS:

Pizzeria Caldo- Vieux Rosemont

Pizzeria NO 900-Outremont

Bevo- Old Montreal

Pizzeria Piccante- Dollard des Ormeaux

 

BEST STEAKHOUSE/GASTRO PUB:

Labarake- Vieux Rosemont

Hoogan & Beaufort-Vieux Rosemont

Grinder-Griffintown

Mercuri- Four à Bois- Old Montreal

 

BEST BURGERS/FAST FOOD:

Chez Tousignant-St Edouard

Notre Boeuf de Grace-NDG

Blackstrap BBQ-Verdun

 

BEST PUBS:

Bishop & Bagg-Mile End

Mam`Zelle Pub-Magog

 

ASIAN:

Satay Bros- St. Henri

 

BEST TEA HOUSES/CAFES:

Cardinal Tea Room –Plateau

Chat Noir –Verdun

 

BEST DESSERTS:

Juliette & Chocolat-Various Locations

XO Cacao- West Island-Closed

 

BEST BREAKFAST

Dupond & Dupont –TMR

 

BEST DELI:

Snowdon Deli-Snowdon

Le Bourbon No 89-West Island

 

BEST GREEK:

Skara- DIX 30

Rotisserie Panama –West Island

 

WEST ISLAND GEMS:

La Verita-Italian

3 Maria`s-Portuguese

Guaca Mole- Mexican

Mr. Spicy-Asian

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Pizzeria No 900-Outremont

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Pizzeria No 900
248 Avenue Bernard /Champagneur
Outremont, Quebec
H2V 1V6
Phone: (438) 386-0900
https://no900.com
Chef Hats: 3.5
Cost: $ 60.84 (tax & tip included)

Pizzeria 900 on Bernard Street is not only a take-out pizzeria that makes gourmet flatbread for the locals; but it doubles as one of Outremont most affordable and coolest hang outs for the nouveau riche d’ Outremont et ailleurs. A big trend that has been going strong the last couple of years in many cities and in Montreal as well; is the plethora of gourmet style pizzerias’ popping up monthly. Like a decade ago when sushi shops became the big fad, Neapolitan pizzerias are the latest thing. I am not just saying that, it has been documented and a closer look at the situation will reveal I am correct in my bold assumption and predictions.

There have been so many new pizzeria openings in Montreal this year alone, to coin the famous words of Mark Twain “that if you throw a brick, it would surely crash through one of the front windows of one of them”. With more slated to open in the next year, the competition will be fierce. Only the most strong, most popular and those with a winning formula will survive. The results of this remain to be seen, but guaranteed the pizza fad will bottom out eventually too; like so many before them.

Pizzeria 900 may be one of those that will survive for a while and maybe end up closing some locations sooner than expected. Other franchise type restos have done just that this year due to high overhead cost and less profitability. Is it the cost of expanding too fast, being greedy and not thinking things through? It is a possibility, but in the restaurant /franchising business the more the better and this is a fact of life.

What makes Pizzeria no 900 so different from all the others is the owners experience and track record with franchises. The Pizzeria no 900 brand has been opening in various locations throughout the city this year and with another set to open in the Monkland village in February 2017; it will be going head to head with Pizzeria Baccaro on Monkland, and Pizzeria Melrose on Sherbrooke. All these pizzerias basically have the same formula when it comes to the type of food they generate. Is it bad marketing, arrogance or greed? Let the war of the pizza kings rage on, you will not hear me complain.

This foodie really likes the original Pizzeria No 900 on Bernard Avenue, not only for the quality of the food, but for its location. Attached to the Outremont Theatre, it is a perfect place to grab a pre-show bite. There is something comforting and decadent about hanging around the bourgeois class of Outremont on a Friday Night drinking a glass of Labrusca on any given terrasse of la rue Bernard, hobnobbing with “les riches” upper crust of Outremont after a long work week and feeling like a plebeian; even some of us are allowed to fantasize sometimes and this is my only respite.

Pizzeria no 900 on Bernard opened in summer 2014, by Alexandre Brunet who you may remember from the former Stromboli on Mont-Royal and who is also co-partner at Mangiafoco of Old Montreal. His partner in this venture is Dominic Bujold who owned this spot when it used to be Ian Perreault’s-short lived -Prêt a Manger. Here is the interesting part; her claim to fame is the Sushi shop franchise .Their goal upon opening Pizzeria 900 was to create good pizza at reasonable prices in a fast food style and to expand beyond the city limits. That is why Pizzeria 900 does not have much seating inside as it was meant to be more of a fast food/ take out kind of place. Their terrace expanded later when the demand was high, by adding the extra banquette style tables and expanding the terrasse.

The pizzeria is reminiscent of some Parisian eateries, with its emblematic writings on the windows and French doors than a typical pizzeria in Naples. Designed by Oliver Valiquette, Pizzeria No 900 won the design Jury award with its industrial design and sleek décor. It is narrow and long with white ceramic walls, mirrors and dark wood tables. The opposing wall is floor to ceiling windows lined with stools looking out onto the street and the terrace; where people watching is in order. The inside looks rather like a shiny gem than a classical Neapolitan pizzeria with its white & red checkered cheesy tablecloths and kitsch décor.

The terrace is a huge draw with large pots of flowers in summer and cedars in winter that light up for a festive Holiday theme. You can eat in unison with strangers or at a private table a deux ou a quatre. If you want action inside is the place to be as it is fun to watch the staff in action in this busy kitchen. Either /or, it makes for a great conversation piece and a good way to mingle with perfect strangers, as we did the evening.

The service is very professional and courteous; service is as fast as possible for a busy bustling place with lots of demanding clientele. One thing for sure, they are very accommodating and they will go one step beyond to make your visit special. A word of warning, they do not take reservations, lineups tend to be very long, especially in the summer. So arrive early and give yourself plenty of time if you need to be somewhere for a specific time. Otherwise, the wait is at least a half hour to 45 minutes minimum but it goes fast on a warm summer day.
The pizzas at Pizzeria No 900 are just the way I like my pizzas to be; puffy and chewy, not too thin and not soggy. They have substance with plenty of choices and variations of gourmet toppings. This evening along with our Labrusca we sampled two pizzas. The first pizza was a pizza topped with organic Salami, in lieu of the usual pepperoni for only $ 11.00 and the second pizza was the Prosciutto for $15.00.

We also ordered two glasses of Labrusca for $ 10.00 each before the pizzas arrived. Their wine list is reasonably priced and you can get a good bottle of wine for under $ 60.00. As well as wine by the glass, they also have beer and sodas, if you don’t want to spend too much on a bottle.
It did not take long to get our pizza, cooked at 900 degrees, done in 90 seconds. Both were perfect pizzas and exactly to our liking. It was a perfect crust, not burned on the bottom and not overcooked. The salami was definitely organic and free of nitrates as it did not repeat and no heartburn aftermath. The Prosciutto pizza was also up to code the fresh slivers of prosciutto were of best quality. We found all the ingredients to be of top quality and made with care .I was told later that the white pizza with figs, pancetta and goat cheese is a classic and original here and not to be missed. A return visit is warranted just to try it.
Pizzeria no 900 major sell is pizza, but they also have salads like Caesar or Arugula, Burrata and a Charcuterie platter as entrees. They have a dessert menu with all the Italian favs, as well as a Nutella pizza.
We really enjoyed our dinner here this evening from the conversation with people seated next to us, to watching people go by, to the conversation with staff. We also spotted an old friend walking on the street, called out, invited them over and had coffee and a long overdue chat.
The mood was festive and warm. The feeling was good for the soul and food heavenly. That is why I strongly recommend a visit to Pizzeria no 900, no matter its location. Make it special night and go all out to the limits, it will prove to be a great experience.

Pizzeria No 900 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info – Zomato
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Pizzeria No 900 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pizzeria No 900 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Damas Restaurant

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Damas Restaurant
1201 Avenue Van Horne/corner Bloomfield
Outremont, Quebec
H2V 1K4

Phone: (514) 439-5435
http://www.restaurant-damas.com
Cost: $ 32.19 ( Salad & Beer only)
Chef Hats: 4

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My first experience and introduction to Syrian cuisine occurred at Alep Restaurant on Jean Talon back in the mid 80’. Then Syrian food was considered exotic and obscure; Alep was one of the first and only places to eat this type of cuisine in Montreal. At the time there was but a handful of fine dining Persian and Lebanese restaurants. Starting to pop up here and there were the many fast food Middle Eastern chains like Basha, Amir & Boustan that served chicken and beef on a rotating roasting spit, sliced and served on pita with a yogurt, garlic sauce and hummus and coined shish taouk and shawarma *. As a side you were able to sample cheaper version of hummus, Fattouch salad and Middle Eastern desserts. But this was not comparable to fine dining establishments that were spewing out a more palatable authentic version of these fast food variations.
Alep was considered fine dining in those days. My distant memory recalls it being heavy on harissa and lamb dishes. I was not accustomed to the different flavors, and found the heavy laden harissa dishes kind of pasty.

In the years thereafter, we became big fans of Middle Eastern and Persian food, with its mint and cumin infused dishes and pilafs, sweet salads with sprinkles of pomegranate seeds and purees from hummus to babaghanouj.

Then I heard that a restaurant by the name of Damas was making waves on Park Avenue cooking really good Syrian food. I wanted to revisit the idea and placed in on my bucket list of restaurants to try. I never got to go to the location on Park Avenue as it burned down shortly after, but I jumped at the chance when I found out my dining group was going to the new rebuilt Damas Restaurant on Van Horne Street in Outremont. Who wouldn’t want to dine in fancy Outremont with its happening Bistros and current in mode restaurants where you can find the likes of Denis Arcand and local politicos of the day.

I was a little intrepid venturing out on my own this evening, but I put on my big girl pants and ventured out to discover Damas. It was all smooth sailing and upon walking into the restaurant, I felt that I had been teleported to the land of Damascus with is haremesque dining room, red draped ceilings and multi shaped Christmas ornament chandeliers. Everything blinged, from the floor to ceiling, with its glass wine cellar and mosaic tiles that were reminiscent of foreign lands. I felt I had entered a beautiful room in a sheik palace.

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Feeling nervous this evening I did not have much of an appetite and not much of a budget. After scanning the menu and wine list, I decided to start with a MacTavish Beer-Trou du Diable for $ 9.00, a salad of Fattouch for $18.00 and have another entrée of lamb kebabs called Kebab bil Karaz for $ 21.00.

 

 

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Fattoush
Fattoush
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Lamb With Sour Cherries

 

We were served bowls of olives which is traditional in most mediterranean restaurants while we ordered our drinks and cocktails.

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Arak

The waiter suggested that since the portions were large, the mezzes were meant to be shared; we should choose four among our group of four persons.

The other two choice of mezze was a Traditional hummus for $10.00 and a Beef Tartar (Kibbé Nayyé) for $ 17.00 that was not shared.

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Hummus
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Lamb Tartar Entree

The Fattouch salad was very generous and has got to be one of the best ones I have ever had. The combination of flavors and ingredients, made it so refreshing it contained a mix of radishes, fennel, pomegranate seeds, mint and small crispy bits of pita, all the flavors of the Middle East and it was totally addictive and satisfying.

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The entrée of lamb kebabs with sour cherries and pine nuts was also really tender and tasty, with a variation on texture and flavors, not overly sour and overbearing, but the presentation left much to be desired.

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The hummus was delicious and creamy, it contained texture and crunch. It came with dollops of sour cream; sprinkles of pine nuts and drizzle of olive oil, it was served with extra pita bread. Also one of the best I have tasted in the city and very different in presentation.

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The Kibbé Nayyé was quickly devoured and although I did not get to sample it. I was told it was very good and different in flavor.

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This is where it gets confusing, the rest of the dining companions ordered mains, which consisted of a dish called Bamia for $ 37.00, (a stew of braised lamb served with okra, prunes and apricots and rice).

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Bamia
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Eggplant Babaghanouj

A Fattet Mozat for $ 39.00, (lamb shank piled high with a mix of grilled vegetables, dollops of yogurt sauce).

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A Shish Taouk de Damas for $ 35.00, (chicken brochette with fries and garlic sauce)

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Fattet Makdous for $ 37.00 (eggplants stuffed with lamb, tomato sauce, nuts, coriander and yogurt sauce)

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and a Kebab d’Alep for $ 35.00 which consisted of skewers of kefta lamb with pita, frilled vegetables.

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A second lamb kebab was brought for me, which I did not order. Apparently, the waiter understood I wanted an entrée and main meal. After a little bit of explaining, he kindly returned to the kitchen.

Everyone enjoyed their meals whole heartedly, and were amazed at the portions and flavors, all except the lamb kebabs that were a little on the oily side. Everyone really liked the mix of flavors. Some found it heavy on the cream sauces and would have preferred less. But whatever way it went, all found the meat to be very tender and grilled to perfection. We were all so full that most of us opted out for dessert.

After reading up on the reviews, I discovered that chef Fuad Alnirabie, a Canadian born Syrian, who also co-owns Kaza Maza on Park Avenue, has no formal professional culinary background. Yet he captures in his menus and plates, the beautiful diversity of Syrian cuisine. Using fresh local produce and imported flavors and spices of his homeland; he creates simple yet intricate dishes that look like gorgeous delicacies and a mix of very skilful concoctions of fine Syrian food.

Damas is a force to be reckoned with and a must on any foodie list, from décor to ambiance to fine professional service. It is one of the best underrated tables in Montreal. The prices are steep, but portions are huge and if you are not a big eater, then sharing a convivial meal here is the norm. The atmosphere is festive and loud but if you opt for a quiet atmosphere you can always sit out on the terrace in summer where you can enjoy a meal al fresco.

Tidbit ** Shish Taouk is synonomous with Montreal, the owner of Basha -Abdallah Akkouche named it such usually it is called Chicken Shawarma in Lebanese culture.

Damas Cuisine Syrienne Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Auberge Le Saint Gabriel

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Auberge le St Gabriel Restaurant
26 Rue Saint Gabriel/ Sainte Therese
Montreal, QC
H2Y 2Z9
Phone: (514) 878-3561
http://www.aubergesaint-gabriel.com
Cost: $ 267.89 (excluding tip)
Chef Hats: 3.5

A special birthday celebration deserves a special venue. Auberge Le St. Gabriel is just the type of place for that special historian in my life. While doing research on the history of Montreal, she discovered that the Auberge Saint Le Saint Gabriel was the oldest Inn established in Quebec circa 1754. In the 1900 it was restored by Ludger Truteau and renamed Auberge Le St Gabriel. Since that time it has changed owners a many times and today as we know it was purchased a few years back by three iconic Quebecers, Rocker Garou, Guy Laliberte of Cirque du Soleil and Marc Boulay. With talent and resources abound they have managed to change the image of Le Saint Gabriel with the opening of The Velvet club , as not only a historic place to dine, stay and relax, but a trendy spot to celebrate any occasion, from Grand Prix in June to New Years Eve with its cool thematic parties.

In the summer it has a private terrace away from the hustle of the busy streets of Old Montreal, where you can enjoy a quiet dinner or drinks. The Inn is ideal for a staycation, completely renovated; the place takes you to back to bygone era of Nouvelle France with its dark cavernous halls, wood beams and brick walls. The place has a mysterious aura and some say it is haunted, with an actual citing of a ghost on the third floor who walks the reception hall.

I had a difficult time taking any kind of pictures while I was there, it was either too dark or I kept getting shadows of white auras flash across my pictures. Long before I had read and researched the ghost story, I mentioned that evening that I got an eerie feeling and felt the place was haunted. Of course I was dismissed with a few rolling of the eyes; and my comment was totally ignored. We were not going to let a few spirits ruin our evening as it had started out perfectly, by being greeted at the hotel entrance by valet offering to park my car.
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This evening we had the privilege of having Coco with us. It is a rare occasion that she blesses us with her presence and it is always a pleasure to have her enjoy a good meal with us.After briefing her on the history of the Auberge, we were greeted by our hospital waitress and seated in Sabrevois Hall; a dark cavernous dining hall which I discovered was re-designed by Bruno Baen who was also the designer for Club Chasse & Peche. The two restaurants look identical; similarities can be found with the dark themed medieval décor, dark leather chairs, heavy wood tables and dark flooring. The massive stone wall back drop and wrought iron turn of the century chandeliers are a recurring theme in both restaurants.

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We were brought our menus and wine list immediately. Our friendly yet professional waitress recommended a bottle white Sancerre, 2013, from Loire, France at $ 90.00. I later discovered they were probably pushing the Sancerre which was leftover from a prior event . Nonetheless the wine was good, it was light and crispy, with citrus notes and very refreshing to the palate. Brains really liked it and she chose to go with white this evening, being her special day.

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After scanning the menu quickly, it was not difficult to make our choices. It consisted of all our favorites along with many classical French Bistro fare.
We were brought our wine immediately and a wooden boxed bread basket that had a variety of ficelles and sliced baguette. It was refilled continuously throughout dinner without question.

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We started with our favorites and our usual Salmon Tartar at $ 14.00 and the Terrine de Foie Gras at $ 16.00. The tartar was fresh and savory, mixed with avocado it hit the spot. The Foie Gras which came served on a slate with a dab of sweet chutney was minimal and a little too chilled, but it did not take long to get it at room temperature. Both were unctuous and very tasty and always a good start to any meal.

For two of our main meals, Brains and Coco ordered a plate of Cavatelli pasta made with ricotta and Rapini for $ 25.00. Coco is quite adept at making this dish and was curious to see if it matched her method. She was surprised to see that the Cavatelli did not resemble anything like the ones she made.

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Instead they resembled large gnocchi in lieu of the small sized Cavatelli she is so used too. Also made with a mix of pureed ricotta cheese and rapini, they were green in color. Her dish contained but a few pieces of rapini on the side; not served the typical Italian way, which usually has copious amounts of rapini on top or mixed in with sausage.

Instead they came topped with a schiuma “foam” and slivers of parmesan shavings. Different she thought, but she enjoyed them nonetheless and learned something outside the realm of her typical Italian box. We always enjoy enlightening her and seeing her marvel at different food.

I ordered the Pot au Feu for $ 29.00, which was a big dish for my standards. A little disappointed with my meal as I found it flavorless, but then what did I expect from boiled dinner. I have got to say it not one of my favorites. I like anything with red wine inductions and with more flavors. The consommé was too generic and bland for my liking.

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I bet if Eric Gonzalez was still Executive Chef at Le Saint Gabriel, things may have been different with my Pot a Feu, as he would have changed things up a little. But he has since been replaced by Ola Claesson, a native Swede coming from a line of chefs; he has worked in Paris at Meurice and Le Pre Catalan, and has a passion for Quebec Market cuisine and our local products. Therefore my Pot a Feu was as classical as it can get. So I am pleased in this respect that I got to sample it.

For dessert we had a Tourteau au Fromage for $ 12.00 and a Glace Vanille for $10.00 and two short espressos for $ 8.00.

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The Tourteau au Fromage, resembled a Boston cream pie filled with mascarpone, with quenelles of vanilla ice cream, compote of fresh strawberry and coulis. The presentation and freshness were good. The vanilla ice cream also resembled the Tourteau platter with a more strawberry compote and strawberry ice cream on a bed of crushed nuts. A little unimaginative I thought. The dessert platters were similar in construction; a little variation was in order.

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Overall, I enjoyed the meal and the ambiance. It had become hipper to dine here as it started to fill up with late night patrons. The music got louder and the terrasse filled up with tourists looking for a bite to eat. After our meal we walked around the Velvet and imagined what a New Year’s Party would be like here and vowed to give it a try soon. The mysterious aura would make for a good party, but one thing this Foo-Foodie will say, you would never catch me sleeping here at the Auberge or having an event in the third floor reception hall. I am too superstitious.

Pizzeria Caldo

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Pizzeria Caldo
4091 Rue Molson/ Rachel
Montréal, Quebec
H1Y 3L1
Telephone: (438) 385-3555
http://www.pizzeriacaldo.com
Cost: $ 78.88 Tax and tip included
Chef Hats: 4
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I had the pleasure this summer of dining out with one of my sister’s friend the Red Headed Vixen.The occasion brought on by delivering a package she had left behind in Vermont to Vieux Rosemont.A little out of the my way, but when she recommended we do lunch at a pizzeria around the corner I jumped at the chance to venture a little further out of my comfort zone.I love eating out with the Vixen as she is well versed and a great connoisseur of fine food. She always dines at the newest and hippest restos; and with her discernable palate she always has the best restaurant recommendations. Her partner also another great foodie indulges in her every whim making them the proverbial couple to hang out with when dining out and trying the latest and the best.

Our lunch date was set at Pizzeria Caldo, a relatively new pizzeria, around the corner from her home. Pizzeria Caldo opened in August 2015 in the old Angus Shop. (You can read about the history of Angus Shops in my review of Labarake). Pizzeria Caldo is the latest project from Daniel Lacombe one of the partners behind the now defunct M sur Masson, who has added to his credentials of late, the incredible Hoogan & Beaufort. One can easily notice upon entering both establishments the similarity in style when it comes to look and set up of space.

Having the benefit of trying both places before their 1st anniversary mark, gave me a better insight on how personal style is reflective of an individuals’ taste. Knowing who the principles are behind a restaurant also familiarizes me with my expectations of what is to come. In the past it took me forever to try some restos to the point that there was almost no value added to dining there; as they were already dépassé. Today I jump at the chance to try new upcoming restos before they have become popular to the masses.

Pizzeria Caldo is not easy to find. It is hidden away in the husk of an old abandoned warehouse behind a grassy knoll on Rachel Street. The easiest access is to park in the lot on Molson st. and walk around the exterior on the front of the building. Very cachée from traffic, it boasts a wonderful terrace with its huge red umbrellas, making it is a private and cozy affair in summer.

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The facade boasts floor to ceiling glass windows all around and red brick exterior. Once inside the décor is modern chic, with a warehouse feel to it with its tall ceilings, metal and wood themes and open kitchen. The space is large and airy and can get noisy with the influx of dinners. The space is well managed and simplistic. The ambiance is décontracte, cool and relaxed.
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The menu is classic Italian. The table hote does not only consists of pizza but Italian specialties such as pastas, risottos and entrees like burrata, Carpaccio and grilled octopus all at reasonable prices. The pizzas are cooked in wood ovens and are topped with freshest of local ingredients. You will not get bored with the plethora of choices some very original in concept. The daily lunch menu has special pizzas created for the day that are not usually found on the regular lunch menu; this was the case the day we visited.

What is really cool about Pizzeria Caldo is its warm and unpretentious atmosphere, where you can sit at the bar alone or come in a group or have a little tète a tète with that special someone. Lunch can get busy with the local work crowd coming in for a quick bite, so reservations are a must at any time.

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Lunchtime also means a special lunchtime menu where you can have your choice of pizza and salad and a glass of wine for $5.00. Today we chose a grilled vegetable pizza for $ 15.95 which came with a Tuna Tatami on a bed of arugula and marinated radishes. The Tuna Tatami was delicious and included with the price of the pizza. Not bad for starters, along with a glass of white wine for $ 5.00 which I did not note the name of, but found it refreshingly light and not overly sweet or dry, just perfect with our entrée of salad and our main meal.
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The second pizza ordered came topped with pulled pork meat from pork cheeks, marinated jalapenos and goat cheese; this also came with a Tuna Tatami salad for $16.95. The pizzas were well cooked, crispy on the ends and the underside but thicker in quality than many Neapolitan pizzerias that claim authenticity. The toppings and flavor are fresh and agreeable. This place is for you if you like a harder crust pizza. I found the thickness just perfect as I detest paper thin pizza. I love the smokiness of a wood burning oven and the taste it yields, and I prefer a pizza that is thicker and chewier. But this is subjective as we all have our own preferences. Just don’t give me generic pizza.
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For dessert I had the strawberry cake with a short espresso for $ 9.75. A mound of deconstructed cake on the bottom, topped with crème fraîche and slices of fresh strawberries. It was delightfully good, not too sweet and very appetizing and refreshing for a hot summer day. Vixen had her slice of creamy unctuous tarte au chocolat for $ 7.00 which she could not resist, topped with whipped cream and sprinkles of crunchy praline. She enjoyed it immensely and got her fix for the day.
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Service was to the point, attentive and fast but professional. Our waiter must have thought that we needed to get back to work. Instead we were women of leisure for the day. I truly enjoyed my time at Pizzeria Caldo; it changed the ideas in my head. We also managed to talk business and both Vixen and I got some insight on how we can advance our careers. Maybe, we could turn our passions into a business, which would be grand. On second thought, we would be GRANDE, especially eating out for lunch on a daily basis.

If left to our own demise we would have stayed and ordered everything on the menu, lingered on the terrace all day and night, and just kept eating. The mood was just so intoxicating. This is just what type of place Pizzeria Caldo is.

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Caldo Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato