3165 Rue Rachel E / Between Ave. Du Midway & Dézéry
Phone: (514) 521-0777
Chef Hats: 4
Cost: $ 287.74 (6 persons)
Labarake Caserne Salle à Manger is located in the neighborhood of lower Rosemount at Canadian Pacific Railway old Angus shops in a defunct fire station building that some may remember two years ago once housed an SAQ outlet. It may seem a little far and out of the way to trek there for simple comfort food. For the local young urbanites that now live in the multitude of new townhouses and condos that have sprung up from ashes in this area in the last decade; it is a neighborhood bastion.
Who would think, that over twenty years ago, an area that housed a defunct railway yard would become a hip and upcoming area to hang out in. Along with rue Masson, this area has also become a local foodie haven. Well times have changed and I am always amazed at the gentrification of some old neighborhoods in Montreal. I have been meaning to visit Labarake since hearing of its opening in May 2014, that summer I kept hearing repeatedly that their terrasse was great and the food even better. So I jumped at the chance when it was suggested we celebrate Chipmunk Birthday in a place that was cool and young. Very befitting for a my sprite young sister and her clan of friends who made the suggestion, not only are they perpetually young at heart but have discernible taste when it comes to eating out and a good appreciation of the quality of finer things in life.
Labarake was started and is owned by three friends and principle investors, Andy Aboushaybeh (Terrasse Bonsecours), Denis Sobolj and Emmanuel Besnier (Auberge le Vieux St Gabriel), along with Chef Aurelien Mallia who worked alongside with Besnier at the Auberge. The idea came about when Denis Sobolj who lived in the area and would visit the local SAQ outlet and loved the look of the building with its red bricks and tower. They had been looking for a while for a restaurant to open together. When the place came up for rent they jumped at the chance and the rest is history, or so to speak. They enlisted the help of designer Mara Castachescu who emphasized the historical perspective of the building with murals which are exhibited along the walls at Labarake and that follow you all the way to the bathrooms.
The place is immense and airy with its high ceiling which I really liked with its reflective lighting and red brick walls. The decor has been recycled from materials from the old Angus train yards and the fire station. The long bar, tables and chairs and spiral staircases are made from recycled wood and steel. The place has a special kind of charm with its slate floors and very cool casual pub feel reverberating in this cavernous space. Yet it is not a typical tavern and quite urban chic. There is an occasional deejay and a very festive atmosphere of good cheer is represented here. The service is amicable and professional. Even though an error was made this evening and we were brought a second trio of tartars, the waitress was very apologetic and offered to compensate us. Slated as a Quebecoise Brasserie, it is definitely a gastro pub and no less. The meals are definitely a notch above typical brasserie food. The menu has lots of classic French Bistro favorites, for all age groups including kids and everything comes with fries.
A must is their plethora of fantastic beers. We started with a Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc-$8.00 this evening, a beer from France with a citrus fruity flavor, perfect as a starter. Labarake also has a good wine list that is reasonably priced, but it was not an option at our table this evening; instead some of us opted for raspberry mojitos at $ 10.00 and White Velvet for $8.00 which is a mix of part beer and cider, Brand name of the beer is not known. It was the first time I discovered the 1664 Blanc having seen it occasionally on some grocery store shelves, but never having picked it up or tempted to try it either due to the overload of beer available on the market and/ or out of pure ignorance for just not knowing. It was actually very good and I really enjoyed the taste and will be my go to beer this summer.
For entrees we started with a dozen oysters at $ 3.00 a pop, classic and simple served in a steel casserole pan on ice, with only wedges of lemon, these were fresh and devoured very quickly. Next served was a round of house specialities that were shared amongst us or eaten individually, but were sampled by all. First a large cauldron of mussels in a sauce made with Crème au Lard for $ 17.00, more than enough to go around.
These were tender and not chewy at all, the cream sauce was divine, mussels are not one of my favorite’s dishes, but I am starting to eat them especially in some restos as they are done well and very tasty. The sauce and juice from these mollusks and the manner in which they are cooked makes all the difference I am discovering.
Next sampled were the Trio de Tartares at $ 19.00. It was a hit or miss with some of my fellow dinners, a combination of beef, salmon and tuna, these came served in three square bowls, M- The vixen did not particularly like the Salmon Tartar, the Tuna and the beef were the best .
The salmon tartar lacked that oomph, a little flavor less, it needed more of a kick, like wasabi, citrus , spice or just plain salt and pepper. It feel a little flat, the redeeming quality of this dish was the large salad portion and three long pieces of fresh baguette. Vixen’s Handsome husband T, the Egyptian God tried his hand at a large portion of Beef Tartar topped with a halved hardboiled egg and parmesan savings for $ 27.00 , this came with a large portion of salad baguette and a bucket of frites.
The Angus burgers with or without egg came served on a brioche bun, the hamburger featured a thick, juicy patty layered with caramelized onions, bacon , cheddar cheese and tomatoes and pickled mayonnaise and a side order of fries. The burger was excellent and you could taste the quality of Angus beef. This was one of the best burgers I have had in a long time. It was delicious and satisfying.
We were so full with all the sampling we had no room for dessert. We completed the meal with coffee and more beer for some.
Dinner at Labarake was a big success and very enjoyable. As the evening progressed, the family feel to the restaurant was transformed by a large number of attractive 20 & 30 something’s’ taking up the tables for large groups. The music was good and I hear they have a DJ on occasional evenings. The atmosphere is festive and loud, but you can hear yourselves speak. I like the open kitchen concept design where you can watch the chefs cook, and if you want to be different you can sit at the Raw Bar and enjoy the oyster fest. Labarake is in the forefront of innovative, creative cuisine and very urban, the menu is diverse but affordable and everything is good. A notable return is a must.