6896 St Dominique St/Belanger
Telephone: (514) 564-3842
Cost: $ 253.00 (3 persons, bottle of wine, tax & tip included)
Chef Hats: 5 on 5
Salmigondis made it on my bucket list of restaurants to visit one weekend while on a walking tour of Little Italy. The idea stemmed from a feeling of peace I got while passing by and admiring patrons having brunch on the backyard terrasse. I liked the way the sun shone in a particular way and all I could hear was the subtle clanging of cutlery and dishes. I could be funny that way, but these days I’m in my tranquility phase and tend to avoid noisy trendy places.
Not that Salmigondis is not trendy, but it is not new either. Opened in summer 2014, I first heard of it through various medias and reviews. Started by principal owners Brian Peters (Café Sardine) and Robert Kaniak (Arts Café & Chez L’Epicier) it will be going on its fourth year. One good thing about Salmigondis is that the atmosphere and food has managed to stay consistent. Nonetheless, it is one of those restaurants that flies under the radar more often than not and is easy to forget. I didn’t and I placed Salmigondis on my list for when that special occasion would arise. Well, the occasion arose last week, when wanting to celebrate my Mom 80th Birthday. So, I made reservations for the family knowing it would be the perfect place for her to celebrate; as these days she too is feeling for peace and quiet and at eighty years old I could only imagine.
The name Salmigondis means hodgepodge, signifying a mix of things and this is the best word to define their menu. A fusion of influences from Italian and French cuisine, there is something for everyone albeit you are not an extremely picky eater or you are looking for an exuberant amount of variety of dishes.The menu, is simple and uncomplicated with only seven entrées, main meals and three desserts. I would best classify Salmigondis ‘s menu as market cuisine, with an emphasis on local Quebec products. Their menu most of the time, carry at least about two pasta dishes, a Fresh Market fish and plenty of meat dishes. Their entrees focus mainly on seasonal market vegetables that is a common thread throughout the meals. Their dishes are all beautifully plated and presented with a variety of textures and flavors that will inspire anyone. Sure, to please the foodie and it will make you fall in love. It reminded me so much of Lucca on Dante street circa 1999, when they were creating innovative dishes unlike anyone else in Little Italy. After some reassurance from my sister that her children ate most anything, I took a chance and booked a table at Salmigondis.
What sets Salmigondis apart from other restaurants in the neighborhood is not only the quality of the food and its tranquil atmosphere but the exceptional care they take to make the overall experience a fine one with not only innovative and creative ideas but soliticious service. It is not often I can say that everything sampled on the menu this evening was absolutely delicious.
Salmigondis is truly a neighborhood gem in all senses. This is the place you want to dine at for a quiet romantic date or for a peaceful dinner with family, it seats about thirty, plus more on the terrasse. Away from the bustle of Dante street restaurants and St Laurent, it is hidden away on the corner of Belanger and St Dominque streets. The décor is simple yet classy chic with its dark bistro style tables, long bar, open kitchen and its three-season quaint terrasse.
The wine and cocktail list at Salmigondis is comparable and reasonably priced. A decent bottle of wine could be had for under $60.00 or you can choose to go by the glass if you wish as they have a decent selection. This evening we ordered two bottles of French Bordeaux for $ 56.00 each to share.
The service is friendly and accommodating, they did their best with the children, but a forewarning there is no children’s menu. I was told dishes could not be modified but one of the boys did get papardelle without the fixings to accommodate him. The other meal chosen was something simple, French Onion Soup for $ 11.00 and Potato Bread for $ 2.00 which came with butter and pickled beets. The children did not complain about their onion soup, it came packed with copious amounts of Cippolini and topped with Gruyere cheese and garnished with Salicornia. They pretty much ate most of it and the bread and sampled a few bites from our dishes as well.
As for the adults, we sampled pretty much everything on the menu. For entrees we started with a dozen Oysters at $3.00 each, there was a variety of oysters as explained by the waitress, each from different areas of Canada and the US. They were fresh and a good start.
Next, we ordered the Tomato Salad for$ 16.00 with quartered Mozzarella di Bufala, arugula and herbed oil. The salad was decent but the tomatoes were of the greenhouse sort that lacked the flavor and ripeness of fresh summer garden tomatoes that make this salad so special.
The Salmon Ceviche at $ 14.00 fared better. It contained copious amounts of salmon slivers, marinated in a Jalapeno Romesco sauce, with Potato Espuma and garnished with Salicornia. Salicornia is a succulent that resembles seaweed, it grows in salt marshes and beaches. It was a first for me, and found the herb paired well with the fish, almost giving it a natural saltiness.
For the main meal, Brains ordered the Guinea Fowl Risotto- $ 30.00, made with Rye Berry grain instead of the typical Italian Risotto grain. It was rich and creamy in consistency due to the melted Mozzarella di Bufala scattered here and there. Both the fowl and risotto were mildly infused with the flavors of savory but were not overpowering. The Guinea Fowl which was lightly charcoaled was fall off the bone tender and very tasty.
The Party girl had the Lamb Pappardelle –$34.00, homemade large noodles with shredded lamb infused with rosemary. Incorporated with the noodles, were scattered pieces of Padron Peppers, watercress and walnuts. It had a mix of textures with the crunchiness of the walnuts and bitterness of the watercress, but all in all everything on dish paired well. At first, the Party girl found the dish expensive and waivered on her decision to order, but then upon one bite she lifted up her head ever so slowly and said wide eyed “this is really good”. We knew we had her on the first bite, she sometimes drives a hard bargain but she enjoyed the dish immensely.
The other foodie and mushroom connoisseur at the table had the Gnocchi with Oyster mushroom for$ 25.00. The dish contained two types of mushrooms, the oyster’s mushrooms appeared in their whole form and the Cremini in a form of Espuma, which came scattered in dollops around the Gnocchi with scatters of hazelnuts and sauerkraut. The Gnocchi pockets where larger than usual but were tender and tasty morsels of pasta. The sauerkraut was more like charcoaled cabbage than the usual sauerkraut which is fermented in brine. The mixed of all the different items on the dish created very woodsy almost a la Bosco style dish.
Foodie Number # 1 and Mr. BFBIL were feeling carnivorous and needed to have our weekly intake of protein. So, we both opted for and ordered the Bavette-Albertan AAA Grade Beef dish for $ 32.00, which was reasonably priced. It came with roasted carrots, onions and cabbage atop of bed of pureed potatoes. The beef was of premium quality and perfectly medium rare and super tender. Even the boys partook from our dish and one of my nephews said it was the best mash potatoes he had ever had. They were indeed delicious; the vegetables were the perfect accoutrements of smokiness paired with the charcoaled meat. I completely enjoyed it and it hit the spot.
To complete our meal we had two Desserts, the Chocolate cake for $8.00 and Spruce Doughnuts for $6.00. The Chocolate Cake was deconstructed with hints of Caramel popcorn here and there, it contained some caramelized parsnips and drizzle of caramel made from Labrador Tea. They even placed a sparkle on the cake, for the party girl, even if it was meant for the boys. The thought was good.
The Spruce doughnuts were my favorite, more like munchkins in shape than actual doughnuts, they were filled with lemon custard, coated in sugar and drizzled with a wild rose caramel. Just Heavenly.
The overall experience, the food sampled, along with the fine service at Salmigondis made for a very memorable and peaceful night. Even the boys behaved and were intrigued by the decor. I can’t say much for the adults, after all the wine we were soused. Salmigondis is a good and sure be. I already feel the need to return, but this time I need a date to sit on the terrasse with this summer or another quiet tète a tète with some more good food and wine. Its just the type of place it is.
**Labrador tea is a common name for the three closely related plant species and the name of an herbal tea made from the plants: All three species are primarily wetland plants in the health family. The herbal tea has been a favorite beverage among Athabaskan, First Nations, and Inuit people.”