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.
Champagne, Prosecco & Sparkling Wine
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.
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
Moet et Chandon
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
Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut
Jansz Premium Cuvee Brut
Krug Grande Cuvee Champagne Brut
Bollinger Special Cuvee
Asti Spumanti-Martini & Rossi
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 :
H4C-Place St Henri-Montreal à Table-November
Maggie Oakes- Old Montreal- Hotel William Gray
Verses- Hotel Nelligan –Old Montreal-HAPPENING GOURMAND-January
Douro-St Laurent-St Edouard
Auberge St. Gabriel- Old Montreal
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
Mercuri- Four à Bois- Old Montreal
BEST BURGERS/FAST FOOD:
Chez Tousignant-St Edouard
Notre Boeuf de Grace-NDG
Bishop & Bagg-Mile End
Satay Bros- St. Henri
BEST TEA HOUSES/CAFES:
Cardinal Tea Room –Plateau
Chat Noir –Verdun
Juliette & Chocolat-Various Locations
XO Cacao- West Island-Closed
Dupond & Dupont –TMR
Le Bourbon No 89-West Island
Skara- DIX 30
Rotisserie Panama –West Island
WEST ISLAND GEMS:
Guaca Mole- Mexican
Pizzeria No 900
248 Avenue Bernard /Champagneur
Phone: (438) 386-0900
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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