Cabane d’à Côté-PDC
3595 Montée Robillard,
Cost-$ 56.00 (tax & tip) (wine not included)
Chef Hats: 4
La Cabane d’à Côté is this city’s best version of what “Farm to Table” means in Quebec. Commonly called “Table Champêtre” these types of dining experiences have existed in some form or other since the creation of New France in the 17th century. Usually set in a rural rustic country setting, they were rudimentary in terms of set up and food. Present day “les tables Champêtre” have evolved to include much more. La Cabane d’à Cote, the sister version of Martin Picard’s Érablière Au Pied de Cochon; both of which are located in Mirabel next door to each other are fine examples of farm to table dining at its best.
La Cabane d’à Côté which opened in spring 2018, is headed by Vincent Dion-Lavallée, in partnership with Martin Picard and Marc Beaudin. Where the Pied du Cochon Sugar Shack is excessive, the Cabane d’à Cote is toned-down version, serving mostly fresh local seasonal vegetables and locally grown meats in “a Festin” of flavors. Their dishes highlight a colorful tasty array of vegetables and fruits from their garden, pork and fowl dishes from the farm next door and sustainable fish produced in the region. The gourmet dishes are beautifully presented, skillfully paired and super delicious and fresh.
The concept is based on preparing the dishes in the Cabane’s woodfire oven, which is visible along with the open concept kitchen as soon as you enter. The atmosphere is cozy, and very rustic as a log cabin should be. Yet everything is tastefully done along with the décor. Seating about 40 people, the main dining room is lined with rows of picnic tables, small & tight and always packed with dinners.
The floor to ceiling windows with a view of the forest behind la Cabane creates the sense of openness. The comparisons stop here as La Cabane d ’as Cote is not the typical sugar shack serving traditional eggs & ham doused in Maple syrup. The food is refined and delicate, with a complexity of flavors. Their wine list a perfect combination with all their dishes.
Set in the middle of the woods, and open all year round. We visited in August for their end of the summer harvest and were pleasantly surprised at the pickings of fresh berries and vegetables. The menu varies weekly depending on what is available. Guaranteed you will not be disappointed with endless array of platters presented and there is something for everyone. Although some are not for the fickle, like beef tongue.
After a 45-minute drive from Montreal on very hot August day we were already feeling the heat. We found it even warmer as we entered the Cabane and came face to face with the blaring wood fire ovens and smoky atmosphere permeating the kitchen.
Nonetheless we overlooked it and made our way to the dining room where our friends were already seated sipping pink apple cider wine, causally chatting. We were also offered some wine which I found to be light, refreshing cool and delicious. Of course, arriving late, we got the last seat in the house at the end of the picnic table. Not the most comfortable seating arrangements, but then we did not have much of a choice.
We were given menus with a listing of the dishes being served today. Once we were ready, they began serving our first course which consisted of a light cold cream of corn soup that was so delicate. Beautifully presented, we received a large soup plate which held a dollop of crème fraiche, kernels of corn, slivers of mushrooms, onions and bacon. The waitress than poured a delicate base of corn broth around the ile flottante. The soup was very light with an explosion of flavors. A good start to a warm day and very refreshing on the palate.
Next came a plethora of dishes that were shared amongst four of us. Aside from the soup, the Cabane’s dining experience is convivial and dishes are all meant to be shared. We started with a zucchini flower appetizer made with raw zucchini flowers, sliced cucumber and lemons in a light yogurt dressing. The raw zucchini flowers were not bitter as I would have expected uncooked. Instead the salad was surprisingly light and very different in texture in comparison to the usual fried zucchini flowers I am used to.
Followed by a dish of buckwheat crepes that were meant to be eaten with a dish of beef tongue and bitter greens. The crepes were delicious on its own. Paired with the beef tongue and greens they complement each other perfectly. I am not a fan of beef tongue but nonetheless tried a piece of it and found it very edible. Served with its own sauce and vegetables it was well balanced and appetizing even for a small bite.
Next, came three salads, a Cucumber & Tuna salad, a mixed variety Cherry Tomato salad and Chanterelle Mushroom and sliced Onion salad. Each had their own distinct flavors, all very tasty and very refreshing.
Our next dishes that followed were mostly main meals and a little more substantial. We received a Bison Tartare, which had the perfect texture with crunchy quinoa and greens and topped with a raw egg. Not at all gamey and very mild on the palate.
We also received a whole head of Roasted Cauliflower in a Bone Marrow jus that was to die for. This disappeared off the table in a flash and a second one was ordered.
Our next main was a deboned and sliced Roasted Fowl on a bed of pureed corn and a cream sauce that was just divine. I could not get enough of it. Absolutely loved the cream sauce.
We also received a plate of homemade Gnocchi in a light zucchini cream sauce with garnished with fresh parsley. Decadent!
Presented on a long serving tray was Streamed Trout wrapped and cooked in vine leaves. Once unwrapped it displayed a light flaky pink trout hat was so tender. Alone it lacked flavor, but served with the chimichurri type sauce and the large granular salt, it was perfect.
And last but not least, we received for our last main meal t heir famous Roasted Piglet cooked in the fire wood oven which contained a delicious smoky flavor, served with garden greens, potato and onions. It was so melt in your mouth tender and tasty that I have been thinking about it ever since.
This may seem a lot of food, but when shared with others it is not excessive. At some point I even complained as the two girls unbeknownst to me who where sitting at our table hogged all the food as soon as it hit the table. Sitting at the end, I seemed to be getting the table scraps and a cramp in my upper thigh from the table support pressing into my leg. I was sitting too tightly on a cramped picnic table for too long. I have my limits. I was getting irritable with the heat and the pain. If it was not for my friend Lulu who yelled out that I had not gotten anything to eat, I would have been passed over and passed out. I went out to get some air and we got some seconds which I received first for the taking and which eased my plight a little as I was about to commit hara-kiri.
At this point the Cabane was getting very hot, the next group had arrived, so we were ushered to the exterior terrace under the red umbrellas to have dessert. We took our place on another picnic table in the sun. What ensued was another plethora of dishes for dessert. We first received a fresh berry tart with fresh mint and crème fraiche, then a peach bavaroises, a fruit crumble with apple and berries and a home-made sherbet tart with coffee & tea. All were equally delicious, refreshing and good.
Dining at the Cabane is a definite return and highly recommended if you love farm to table dining, it was more refined than expected. Lesson learned, sit in the middle of the picnic table, go when weather is cooler and go with people that you know and enjoy every minute, it is fantastic.
** Note – we paid $ 76.00 for special menu and organizer fees.