The Food Crawl

July 16, 2011 - Leave a Response

Many fascinating restaurants populate rue Notre -Dame so we made this delightful street our pick for the annual 2thpick food crawl extravaganza!

After investigating the restaurants amongst the antique shops on this street, we narrowed it down to four stops.

Tuck Shop

Tucked away at the grungy end of Notre-Dame you will stumble upon Tuck Shop. This charming bistro that offers a seasonal menu is where we decided to have our starters for the evening.

The apron wearing staff were sweet and swift with the service for our first stop of the crawl.

A pleasant surprise appeared in the form of a Cod Fritter amuse-bouche served with a pungent cocktail sauce. Crispy on the outside and warm and fuzzy on the inside a perfect kick to begin our food fest.

Shortly after, we were presented with a Beef Tartar with an irresistible porcini aioli, a radish salad and crispy matchstick fries ($13) – the excellence of the tartar definitely competes with that of marche 27.

Our second pick was a Thai and tamarind beautifully glazed Pork Belly that was paired with a refreshing watermelon Thai basil salad ($12). It was love at first bite!

We were contemplating cancelling the rest of the food crawl and continuing the evening here but alas Lady Jane awaited on 1744 Notre-Dame.

Details:

4662 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest
Montreal, QC H4C 1S6
(514) 439-7432

Open Tue-Sat 6pm-11pm

http://www.tuckshop.ca

Jane

A cozy spot in Griffintown, Jane’s facade is so low key you have probably walked by it a few times and not even noticed it.We arrived just in time for our 7:30pm second course reservation and it was surprisingly full for a Tuesday night.

The waitress introduced us to the ten dollar cocktail menu where each drink was made with fresh ingredients. Delicious D went for a Bloody Basil Mary (fresh tomato juice and basil leaves -which felt like a meal on its own) and Zesty Z ordered a classic Red Russian (vodka with apple and red beets).

With their specialty here being pizza we rushed over to the blackboard menu to make our selection. The choices were as follows: Philly steak, Greek, Taco, Veggie, Mac n Cheese, Schwartz smoked meat and ‘Bianca’. All pizzas seemed unusually interesting but we went for the lightest option so we would be able to stomach the rest of the food waiting for us at the next stops. We picked Bianca ($17) – béchamel porcini, buffala, pesto and truffle oil- exquisite! The crust was A++ according to Delicious D (a bread connoisseur). She would compare the perfection of the bread to the thinner pizza crust at Chandelier on 1180 Maisonneuve West.

This standard looking restaurant in the Griffintown area is the ideal place to take that special someone on a first date for funky cocktails and a vivacious assortment of pizza. You might even see the chef pop out of the kitchen for a quick chat (you’ll easily spot the only guy with “Jane” tattooed on his arm).

Off to our main course down the road at Le Boucan we went!

Details:

(514) 759-6498

1744 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest
Montreal, QC

Tues – Thurs:11:30 am-2:30 pm and 5:30 pm-11:00 pm

Fri:11:30 am-2:30 pm and 5:30 pm-12:00 am

Sat:5:30 pm-12:00 am

Sun:5:30 pm-11:00 pm

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Restaurant-Jane/140378979326052

Le Boucan


Le Boucan is a Southern smoke house with a summer backyard/terrace that was also pretty packed for a Tuesday night.

The service was a bit slow but that gave us time to digest the first 2 courses. We decided to go for what they are famous for – RIBS. We ordered one plate of Half a Rack of Ribs ($18) and one of Pulled Pork ($13) that were accompanied by a choice of 2 (out of the 5) side dishes. The chef prepared a special platter for us with the entire order laid out like a colorful abstract painting on a wooden canvas.  The ribs were so succulent they were melting off the fork so we devoured them with our fingers to savor every morsel. The pulled pork was laid on a piece of toast that sucked all the juicy flavors of the sauce which had a smoky musky depth to it (D wanted to bottle it and take it home).

The side dishes- coleslaw, potato salad and corn soup were quite average. But the fries had a hint of cinnamon that is surely unique to Le Boucan’s menu.

Z vowed to order a full rack of ribs the next time he returns.

With our bellies so full we couldn’t even think of making it to our next stop for dessert but we ate on!

Details:

1886, rue Notre-Dame O
Montreal, QC H3J 1M6
(514) 439-4555

Open Tue-Thu,Sun 11:30am-10pm; Fri-Sat 11:30am-11pm

http://www.leboucan.com

Joe Beef

Renowned for their in-house pastry chef, Joe Beef is located right next to Liverpool house. Z & D were sure to finish off their food marathon in style with a solid dessert course.

All 4 dessert items on the blackboard menu seemed to be oozing with goodness and we wanted to try them all but sadly we had to make the most difficult decision of the night! We went for a Marjolaine ($9) – a cake layered with chocolate, hazelnut, vanilla, and mocha – you could taste each flavor individually. It went perfectly with Z’s allongé, it was like a symphony in his mouth.

The second choice that ran away with Z and D’s hearts was the Finacier ($13)- a decadent almond tea cake topped with fresh Quebec strawberries and who could resist that vibrant green dab of pistachio paste; a masterpiece. AND we can’t forget the soft serve vanilla ice cream drizzled with strawberry molasses that accompanied the cake. It came in the cutest antique looking tea cup.

Joe Beef’s terrace is now open for the summer; we suggest you book in advance to take advantage of it. You can enjoy feasting in a garden of full of fresh ingredients used to create their superb dishes that push all types of culinary boundaries.

 

 

Details:

2491 Notre Dame West
Montreal, QC H3J 1N6
(514) 935-6504

Open Tue-Sat 7pm-9:30pm

http://www.joebeef.ca

The night was full of  WOW moments and we are happy to have experienced this new way of dining as we got to explore one of the up-and-coming streets for restaurants in Montreal.

A spectacular evening that we have awarded 5 toothpicks, it was truly a foodie’s dream come true!

– Outstanding, needs flossing too

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Exteriors can be deceiving

June 4, 2011 - 3 Responses

Kazu, a Japanese “izakaya” eatery on St Catherine street corner of St Marc. Now we know what your thinking “ Asian place on St Catherine equals MSG filled, greasy, unhealthy but it tastes so good (a few hours later you feel like barfing)”. Well guess again Montrealers this place is anything but that!


It’s so popular in fact, that we had to wait 25 minutes to get a seat in this 5 table space (there is also seating for about 8 people at the bar). Menu items are crayoned onto papers and pinned on the wall. Once we were able to squeeze through to get to our table we chose the drinks. One “Magic” for Delicious D – a grapefruit vodka drink with floating raspberry bits and ‘collagen’ ice cubes – it tasted like a melted popsicle, it was too sweet for D. But she ate the ice cubes that are apparently good for the skin. One “ Yazu” for Zesty Z -a lemon and honey Soju (Japanese vodka) soda- it just tasted like weak vodka with added sugar to Z.

Light jazz music kept this place feeling relaxed although there was much commotion with the service so attentive and FAST. We received our first few dishes instantly!

Shrimp Burger ($10):  a shrimp patty smothered with an irresistible tangy spicy mayo sauce in a classic white bun. Z would go back just for this dish … he fell in love.

Veggie bowl ($9): order it if you are a vegetarian as there are no other options unless you want to nibble on some Edamame. The bowl consisted of rice topped with chunks of tofu and a very vinegary salad.

Tuna and Salmon tartar bowl ($15): An absolute joy to eat (similar ingredients as the veggie bowl but with added tartar), yet there wasn’t enough tartar in the bowl for D’s liking.

The plates were so over-sized they could barely fit on our small table.

When the next two dishes showed up we didn’t know where to put them!

Sea Bass Salad ($22):  a fish of the day type dish – a large portion of pan-seared sea bass, with an Oh so crispy well-seasoned skin full of flavor.

48-hr Pork rice bowl ($10): Tender pulled pork with red ginger shavings and sesame seeds that gave it the right depth of flavor and balance.

Once our huge plates were cleared we asked for some homemade Milk ice cream floating on a Sake saucer. We couldn’t resist covering the ice cream with the alcohol – Z was getting drunk with every spoonful. We went for a second flavor because we enjoyed it so much – Green tea powder (the other choice was coffee) sprinkled on the ice cream, it was quite intriguing.

We only wish yeh! (Frozen Yogurt) had these flavors.


Even though we were at dessert D kept seeing other main dishes going around that she wanted to try. She couldn’t convince Z to order some more unfortunately (his thoughts were consumed of that ice cream he devoured)

The staff were wonderful they took the time to explain the whole menu in detail even though they were running around like chickens trying to keep up with the orders.  One waitress used an opportunity to market her Shiatsu services to Z. There are some brochures there so don’t forget to grab one on your way out.

Everything about this place made us feel as if we were in a pedestrian backstreet in Tokyo. From the courteous service to the authentic design of the place, it was a lively, tasty and pocket friendly experience.

2thpick’s advice: Try to get there half an hour before they even open for dinner (5:30 pm) to get the first seating. You can’t be more than a group of 3 people unless you are looking for crammage. Go on a sunny day where you are willing to stand in line it’s well worth the wait!

–  Complete satisfaction was a toothpick away

Details :

1862 Sainte-Catherine Street West Montreal, QC

(514) 937-2333
Open Mon,Wed-Fri,Sun 12pm-9:30pm; Sat 5:30pm-9:30pm

The Market’s Kitchen

May 12, 2011 - Leave a Response

With Jean Talon Market right behind you, you know you’re in the perfect place for a restaurant that serves market fresh food. Kitchen Galerie is a typical Montreal style bistro with a DAILY changing menu of exquisite culinary creations.

A kitchen takes up most of the space in this 50 -seater restaurant. You will find guests on the “kitchen counter” enjoying the view of the chefs preparing their fabulous dishes. With clipboard French menus showcasing the daily creations of Table d’hôte (every order is a Table d’hôte), we were thrilled to embark on the adventure.


Our lovely waiter translated each item with great detail as if he were the one who created that day’s menu.  The amuse-bouche of the evening was a cold cauliflower soup shooter with a drop of olive oil. It gave our appetites the right kick to begin the night…

Foie gras seemed to be their in-house specialty as they had 5 different methods of preparing it in the appetizer course. So we ordered what seemed to be the most interesting one of all; an Apple Tart Foie Gras infused with a caramel sauce– Zesty Z said it was the kind of dish you don’t want to stop eating. Our pescatarian foodie was about to crack for it as the delicious smell was wafting towards her.

An item on the menu foreign to Z and D was a “Rillette de lotte, sauce gribiche, crouton” a White Fish Pâté -like paste that had a tartar-style egg sauce garnished with chives. Z loved it.

Surf N Turf  – a tender braised pork loin & shrimp with an emulsion of sun-dried tomatoes – Delicious D thought “ what a successful marriage of surf and turf!”

We asked for a small portion of the main course risotto to try as an appetizer (thinking that having a full portion may get us full too early). A vibrant green Spinach Pesto Risotto that was absolutely flawless. The punch of roasted pine nuts and cherry tomato halves gave it that oomph factor. We wished we ordered the bigger portion!

Z ordered a roasted Veal Chop with a clutter of veggies, the most exciting thing about this dish was the plate it came in – it was like a ceramic box/tray thing. Not a very memorable meal for Z. D ordered a prosciutto wrapped Halibut with a white butter and caviar sauce on a bed of ratatouille. She found it dry and not executed well. The chef’s intentions were defiantly there but he couldn’t deliver them well enough.

Our pescatarian foodie had asked for a surprise creation that was not on the menu; she felt like testing out the chef’s skills. The waiter came back with a boring plate of shrimp served with a crunchy asparagus salad. She expressed her disappointment and without hesitation the waiter HIMSELF whipped up a new dish for her right in front of us- perfectly creamy Pappardelle Pasta with oyster mushrooms, yellow carrots and asparagus. It was beautiful.

We then turned our attention to the 3 desserts listed on the menu, to our surprise the waiter brought out 4 on one tray. There was something sexy about the presentation. Each one looked yummier than the next. And indeed they were. A vanilla Crème Brûlée flambéed to perfection. A Chocolate Wonton with sweetly spiced pineapple – terrific- D didn’t want to share. A blissfully sweet Cherry Cheesecake on rum-pan-seared strawberries. A zesty Lemon Tart topped with a roasted marshmallow.

Overall we had a splendid experience, the exceptional service was what other restaurants should strive for; D keeps thinking about that waiter who took it upon himself to cook for us.

Unfortunately, the main course was not so memorable, if only it was executed better. Yet we are hopeful that if we were to go back on another night they would not disappoint.

After some research done post-2thpicking, we discovered that our waiter that night is actually the chef /owner of Kitchen Galerie and has a partner who heads Kitchen Galerie Poisson (which D strongly recommends as well). This was a pleasant surprise, as you wouldn’t think the owner of such an established restaurant would be waiting tables throughout the night! No wonder he described the menu with such passion. It was fantastic to be served by the owner himself and not even know it.

This place is definitely for the adventurous type because you never know what’s going to end up on the menu that day– Go discover the foodie in you at Kitchen Galerie!

–  Complete satisfaction was a toothpick away

Price:

Tabel d’hôte ranging from $29-$42

Foie gras selection not included in table d’hôte : $12-$22 extra

Details: 60 rue Jean-Talon Est, Montréal

514-315-8994

Open: Tuesday – Saturday from 6pm until close

http://www.kitchengalerie.com

Sour Cream on Top

April 23, 2011 - Leave a Response

We wanted to get your pick for our 10th review, Facebook fans had the chance to decide between 3 types of cuisine; Ethiopian, Polish, and Russian. 2thpickers voted Polish so with a reservation for 6 foodies we set out to Stash Café in Old Montreal.

It’s a café frozen in time from Eastern Europe located on St Paul street. 1940’s décor with church benches, a parlor piano, and an array of Wódka adorning the bar area. An unwelcoming start to the evening, with the host/waitress not attending to our basic needs (we needed to ask at least 3 times before getting our water). When it came ordering she was impatient, unhelpful and didn’t seem like she wanted to be there.

 

Since we are amateurs to Polish cuisine 3 of us ordered the “Primer” table d’hôte which is for beginners wanting to try a little bit of everything Polish. All table d’hotes start with a Borsch soup and a mixed green salad.  The soup didn’t have any texture making it feel and taste like a beetroot tea rather than a soup. We added a dollop of sour cream as recommended by the menu rather than the waitress, yet it didn’t really accentuate the flavor.

The main dish was an assortment of Polish delicacies:

Bigos: A cabbage stew with meats, sausages and mushrooms. D would have preferred it with just cabbage.

Krokiety: Pancake rolls filled with meat and served with vegetables. Reminded us of corn dogs at a fun fair.

Placki: Potato pancakes served with sour cream on the side. Z thought it tasted like hash browns from Mcd’s.

Pierogi: Dumplings stuffed with a choice of meat, cheese or cabbage. The best tasting item on the plate.

 

Zesty Z went for the Wild Boar table d’hôte….a pick he definitely regretted – it was a culinary calamity – with a stupid sauce that made the actual meat taste worse.

Our pescatarian foodie had ordered the only dish suitable for her diet – a lifeless Filet of Sole sautéed with almonds. They should consider buying their fish from the market rather than serving the frozen monstrosity that was on that plate.

Another order was a generous portion of Veal Sznycel, this was the most decent dish that we got all night. Pretty basic but ended up satisfying Z since he was so disappointed with the boar he ordered. He particularly enjoyed the fried egg on top.

A choice of apple or peach Fruit Squares topped with sour cream were offered as dessert as part of the table d’hote. Nothing exciting.

We ordered the bill and the waitress seemed annoyed when we requested to have it split 6 ways. Her attitude was a disgrace.

Everything about this restaurant indicated that it was a tourist trap- the food was bad, the service was worse, and to top it off the menu had guidelines on local tip customs written in 5 different languages. We were annoyed to have fallen into this mess.

We gave this restaurant 2 toothpicks, the pianist boosted the rating by adding a bit of entertainment throughout the evening to the otherwise dull atmosphere at Stash Café.

–  Toothpicks were left as tip

Price: $30- 40$ per person not including Wódka

Stash Café
200, rue Saint-Paul Ouest

(514) 845-6611

www.stashcafe.com

Nightmare on Notre Dame Street

March 24, 2011 - One Response

On the last full moon of the Montreal winter, we set out to L’assomoir after hearing rave reviews about this bar that conjures up 250 or so different mixtures of alcoholic drinks.

At first glance it seemed as though it was the ideal place to be on a Saturday night. We were directed to our high chair table right behind a bachelorette bash. The night had already started off on a bad note.

We opened up the menu of the famous drinks selection.  Delicious D decided to be adventurous and go for a Mango-jito, our guest ordered a Pink Lotus and Zesty Z went for the boring choice of Mojito. For a bar that boasts about its unique drinks, they were VERY average.

Our waiter was a bit useless when it came to helping us order. But from our own research done before hand, we discovered that tartar and ceviche were their specialties so we ordered a platter with 5 variations of ceviche and tartar to share.

Ceviche: Mojito Fashion Scallops, Tequilla Shrimp( not sure why this was listed as a ceviche when it turned out to be typical shrimp cocktail), Sesame Tuna ( also listed as a ceviche but it was a bland seared tuna; nothing ‘ceviche’ about it )

Tartar: Tuna Tartar with pink grape fruit and avocado, Beef Tartar with slivers of Parmesan, fried capers and a quail egg.

Abysmal was the word that came to mind – the seafood was clearly not fresh and tasted as though it had been refrigerated for years before being served on that unappealing platter that it was presented on.  The beef tartar was also tasteless and weirdly chewy indicating a poor selection of meat by the chef.

Weary of the next course, we ordered more drinks to attempt to remove the horrible taste in our mouths and the memories it had engraved in our minds. But before we were able to erase the first course, the tapas had arrived.  A plate of Cod Accras- unappetizing deep fried balls of fish that D did not even want to go near. She reluctantly had a bite and regretted it. Z said they looked like they came from the frozen food section of a depanneur (the ones that only open after hours). A Small Lamb Kefta tapa which D instantly spat out on her napkin as soon as it entered her mouth. Her taste buds were being tortured by the overpowering cumin spiced meat. It smelt like B.O.

Luckily we ordered only one main meal to try/share and you guessed it…… it was inedible.  Lime and Vanilla Scallops, at this point we expected to be another frozen TV dinner quality dish, but we were hoping that the sauce would cover up this fact. Unfortunately the sauce was possibly worse that the scallops themselves. The chef was obviously trying to0 hard to be creative and failed miserably. The ingredients were just wrong- it was a catastrophic item on the menu- in fact most of the items on the menu had a confusing combination of ingredients that just did NOT work. Z was convinced that the people who created that menu had absolutely no idea what they were doing. To top if off the presentation of the all dishes reminded us of the type of food you would find at a 2 star all-inclusive resort in Cancun; colorful, tacky and utterly tasteless. If it were up to us the chefs would not survive to cook another day!

They offered us dessert, we refused. We paid for the fiasco and got out of there.

Not satisfied with our meal we decided to search for a spot to have some good dessert.  We walked along St.Paul Street and found Chez L’Épicier open. We were quickly seated and shown the dessert menu. We ordered the Chocolate Club Sandwich that came with pineapple fries and a creamy melon salad with fresh mint; something every chocolate lover should order- just exquisite with delicately placed mint leaves between the white and dark chocolate mousse. A Medley of Crèmes Brûlées; 4 flavors- vanilla, coconut, hazelnut, and pistachio. The hint of each flavor just left us begging for more. And finally a Chocolate brioche pudding chocolate milk rice, cocoa sorbet- an ultra rich sensation that was so sweet, Z’s eyebrows were curling.

We were so happy to have ended the night a chez l’epicier. We give the dessert experience 4 toothpicks.  See www.chezlepicier.com for more on this great Montreal find.

But since the review started off with l’assomoir …. We must end it by giving that place 2 toothpicks. By food standards it should get 1 (Z was ready to poke his eyes out) but the atmosphere lifted its rating to a borderline 2. This place is definitely not the place to go eat or drink for that matter, as the cocktails that are boasted about were unimpressive. D wouldn’t recommend that place to her worst enemy!

–  Toothpicks were left as tip

Price:

Drinks –>$10-$15 per drink

Food–>$40 – $60 for absolute nonsense

Details : 211 Notre-Dame St. W Montreal, QC H2Y 1T3
(514) 567-8177

Open : Monday to Friday from 11:00- 3 am

Saturday and Sunday from 17:00-3 am

http://www.assommoir.ca

Indian Invasion

February 17, 2011 - Leave a Response

We were looking for spice… that type of spice that makes your nose run… hoping to turn up the heat; Zesty Z and Delicious D found the hidden Atma on St.Laurent right by the infamous Champs sports bar. Once we entered the cool, exotic restaurant we were instantly hit with warm feelings from the zen-like atmosphere. We were directed to our table; our own private nook on the second floor.

We were skeptical about leaving our coats on the coat rack right by the kitchen, but the chef/owner popped out and told us not to worry.

The menu consisted of every Indian dish imaginable; we were so overwhelmed by all the choices, we asked the waiter for his recommendations, and just went with it.

While the five of us were waiting for the food, we observed the theme a little more and realized that there was a Moorish touch – not very Indian.  Although, the authenticity of India was apparent through the copper plates and cutlery table setting.

We began with some complementary papadums accompanied by an onion tomato dip. A sizzling Mixed Tandoori followed which was sadly dry and uninteresting. Luckily, a tasty Samosa Chaat drowning in a chickpea masala saved the appetizer course.

A feast of bright colors was then delivered to our table. A Vegetable Biryani, a Chicken Korma, a Butter Chicken, a Lamb Saag, a Lamb Roganjosh, a Tandoori Eggplant and a Black Dal. We were impressed by the Chicken Korma but rather disappointed by the Butter Chicken. Z thought it was just sinful to have an Indian restaurant with a mediocre butter chicken. The lamb dishes were nothing to write home about. The three vegetarian dishes, the Biryani, Tandoori Egglant and Black Dal, were exceptional in every way.

The spice level on every dish was low. The waiter explained that this is due to the fact that most of their clientele are not Indian. D got annoyed by this and would have preferred a little more pazzaz on her palate.

Not entirely impressed with the main meal we stuffed ourselves with freshly baked Naan and Paratha bread .

The waiter did not suggest we have any of the three desserts but we went for them anyway. A Gulab Jamun; fried balls of dough soaked in a sugary rosewater syrup, followed by two flavors of Kulfi (traditional Indian ice cream) nutty pistachio and tropical mango. There was a lightness in the dessert that made us walk away with a positive note. We were glad to have taken a chance after a not so exciting main course.

At the end of the meal we were treated to a visit to the back kitchen for a sneak peak at the traditional tandoori oven. Zesty Z was quite impressed. We felt that the people running and servicing the restaurant brought us closer to the welcoming Indian culture.

Although the food didn’t wow us the service and the experience as a whole was good fun. We would recommend this place for vegetarians as the chef was able to execute these dishes perfectly, where as the meat dishes were purely bland.

We award Atma 3 toothpicks , maybe 4 if you’re a veggie?

–  Shared one end of the toothpick with my partner

Price: Per person 25-35$

Details: 3962, boul. St-Laurent coin Duluth

Montréal, QC, H2W 1Y3  |

The restaurant is open

Sunday: 18h-22h

Tuesday-Thursday: 18h-22h

Friday-Saturday: 18h-23h

Closed on Mondays

Les 3 gros appetits

January 25, 2011 - One Response

Seeking refuge from the January cold snap, we cabbed it to St.Denis for our first review of the New Year.

Les 3 petits bouchons was a heart-warming experience from the get-go. A few feet below ground lies this charismatic little wine spot. Typical of a Montreal bistro, a French menu was jotted on the blackboard and luckily for us Anglophones we were given a mini blackboard in English. The waiter eloquently explained the menu that consisted of fresh and in-season ingredients made gastro-art style .He then asked us if we had any food allergies, which was a first .

Tasty T, our guest foodie that night, was excited as all these crazy dishes were jumping off the menu at her , she took the lead and ordered our starters.

We started off with 4 appetizers, a Mushroom Tartine which was composed of a variety of mushrooms (Shitake, Portobello and Button to name a few) cooked in veal demi-glacé and sitting on a slice of bread that was soaking up the truffle oil flavors.

We ordered the ‘Freestyle’ of the night  -the head chef allows his sous chefs to experiment by giving them one dish every week to create and call their own.Relatively sample sized at 6 bucks a plate, was a Seared Rabbit plate. Unfortunately this week we weren’t too happy with the execution of the freestyle, mostly because the waiter made it sound so good but it didn’t turn out to be.

One of the best appetizers Zesty Z and Delicious D could remember from the beginning of the 2thpick adventure was called Date Surprise- warning the next couple of sentences will cause salvation to your mouths. Here goes: A Medjool Date STUFFED with goat cheese FRIED in tempura batter on an extraordinarily JUICY thin slice of prosciutto accompanied by CARAMELIZED pistachios DRIZZLED with a balsamic reduction sitting beside a green pea MOUSSE garnished with FRESH watercress. Tasty T was having multiple.……………………….SOMERSAULTS in her mouth. We wanted to savor every piece of it, so Z licked the plate clean.

We ordered a rather random item (as you wouldn’t usually find it at a French bistro) A Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Obviously not expecting something ordinary at this point- it was an excellent choice because of the quality ingredients ; Italian goat cheese in between sliced bread with a side of endives that were cooked in apple cider and maple syrup which added a sweet sensation to the usually basic sandwich. It definitely changed the way we think about grilled cheese sandwiches!

After the culinary adventure that was our first course, the second course was fantabulous ; Z ( back to his carnivorous ways ) had a Braised Lamb Shoulder prepared with slow cooked vegetables soaked in mushroom sauce that was poured over it at the table. D ordered a delectable Veal Tatar that was light yet filling as the portion was extremely generous. It was presented with a spicy tuna mayo sauce and topped with a rocket Parmesan salad. Freshness all around. T had an Icelandic Cod filet on a braised pork piece with a side of a lovely potato gratin with a perfectly fried onion ring placed on top.

Although we were so satisfied i.e. full and about to flop over from the heavenly first and second course, we didn’t want to pass up the chance of exploring the chef’s sweet side. We shared 2 desserts: Caramel Éclair – pretty self explanatory as you can image an éclair with rich golden caramel. The inside had a white and confusingly salty chilled custard or maybe the saltiness came from bread?  Z couldn’t decide. And a ‘This is not an Irish coffee” – layered coffee ,vanilla ice-cream, whisky, dark chocolate , a biscuity base which tasted like an Oreo , and a dollop of whipped cream to finish it off.


A wonderful pick to start the new year. Hats off to the chef for being so creative with each dish on the menu, it was mind blowing, all the unexpected combination of ingredients were magnificent!

–  Complete satisfaction was a toothpick away

Price : 50 $ a person ( Wine not included )

Details : 4669 Saint-Denis, Montréal, Qc

Tél : (514) 285-4444

Monday – Saturday 18h- 23h

Absar Shu…

December 15, 2010 - One Response

Damas,a newly opened Syrian eatery, is in the happening restaurant district of rue Parc. An impossible task to find parking, we opted to park in a restricted area hoping that the good food would make up for a potential ticket.

Greeted with a big Ahlan wa Sahlan, the restaurant’s lantern-lined ceiling emanated an authentic feel of Syria (minus the fact that all the diners were not of Middle Eastern origin) It was packed! Zesty Z and Delicious D were ready to revisit anything that resembled the taste of their mothers’ cooking.

Looking at the familiar items on the menu excited us as we were taken back to our food origins. We were a party of 5 so we ordered an assortment of 4 mezzes and a salad to start.

  1. Hummus with spicy meat topped with pine nuts and pistachio
  2. Syrian Poutine – large hand cut fries with Akawi cheese curds and … wait for it… confit of Lamb
  3. Beef Kibbe drizzled with pomegranate molasses served with a cup of yogurt with floating mint leaves and pomegranate seeds
  4. A medley of tomato and fresh mint leading up to some Fried Aakwi cheese
  5. Fattoush salad with a delectable crunch of pomegranate seed in every bite

All the dishes were up to par with our expectations, although, we would have enjoyed them much more had we been given larger plates to eat off (we were stuck with bread plates that did not do justice to the amount of food we wanted to devour).

After the first course, a couple of our fellow diners were already slipping into a deep food coma , but were still dreaming of what was to come next. While patiently waiting for the main course we had a look at the wine menu, sadly there was no ‘Syrian Wine’ so we picked a classic French Sancerre to go with the rest of our feast.

The waiters arrived with 4 different Damas Specialties:

  1. Sheik El Mehshi- Lamb stuffed Zuchinni layered with mint and egg sauce topped with roasted garlic and pine nuts
  2. Lamb Shank Friki – Braised lamb shank on a bead of smoked whole Syrian wheat topped almonds and a side of yogurt sauce ( Zesty Z wouldn’t stop going on about how this dish fulfilled his heart’s desires)
  3. Cherry Kabab-  Off the skewer meat Kabab soaked in cherry sauce garnished with parsley ( Delicious D gets it wrong again , although the plate was the typical Syrian cherry kabab, it wasn’t to her taste yet it did satisfy other diners)
  4. Fetat Mozat- Layered rice, yogurt, fried pita bread pieces, a nice piece of Lamb Shank topped with pistachios and toasted pine nuts

With an explosion of nuts in every spoon, all main dishes were as if they had been made by cooks who had been slaving away in the kitchen all day. There was no overpowering garlic fest you would expect from an Arabic eatery; another feature that one would not generally expect to see in this type of cuisine is the attention to the presentation of the food-it was more like Arabic villager cooking meets gourmet style plating presentation- not usually seen in Arabic restaurants even in the Middle East.

Luckily we were all wearing stretchy pants so we were able to fit in a Halwet El-Jebin with 5 forks. It was a refreshing rose water and pistachio sweet cheese roll. Z could not resist ordering a Turkish coffee to end the nostalgic evening- it was served in a traditional small, copper pot. Z was ecstatic ! Even more so when we reached the car and there was no parking violation to worry about!

Looking at the experience in its entirety & in the realm of Arabic cuisine, we rate Damas 4 toothpicks. The quality of food, the effortful presentation and the surfacing feelings of home made us end the evening with one big sa7tain.

We ate ourselves into an intense food coma which definitely meant the restaurant stepped up to the plate in terms of an Arabic feast.

Warning : WE could not get enough of the roasted and colorful nuts that were sprinkled on each dish BUT for those of you with nut allergies we advise that you avoid this place.

Reservation a few days in advance is a must.

Parking is a nightmare, we got lucky but not too sure you will! just spare yourselves the headache and take a cab!

–  Complete satisfaction was a toothpick away

Price : 40-50 $ a person ( Wine not included )

Details :5210 Rue Parc ,Montreal, QC, H2V 4G7

514-439-5435

http://www.facebook.com/search.php?q=damas&init=quick&tas=0.601911995046053&ref=ts#!/pages/Damas-Restaurant/126815284031750?v=wall

Tues – Wed: 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Thurs – Fri: 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm

Sat: 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm

Sun: 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Daylight Robbery

November 26, 2010 - Leave a Response

Pescetarianism crammed us that evening; Zesty Z ‘s diet limited us to seafood restaurants. We decided to try a Portuguese restaurant where you would find most Portuguese restaurants- on St Laurent. Portus Calle was fairly busy that Friday night yet we managed to find a table for two without prior reservations.  The restaurant had an enjoyable atmosphere with all guests indulging in tasty looking dishes that we were excited to try. The theme seemed a bit confused; with a random mesh of mirrors, colorful paintings, brick walls and Christmas lights we didn’t exactly feel as though we were in a Mediterranean eatery.

We were given a complementary Lapin Rillette wrapped in pickle- tasted like tuna to Delicious D. Shortly afterwards we were presented with a bread sac and a tray of olive oil, olives and a cheese that looked like feta but to our dismay it ended up being cottage.

Our waiter (Mr. Eye Candy) explained the menu very handsomely. He advised us to start with a selection of tapas and some fresh fish for our main course.

After what seemed like an hour, we were finally served our tapas; Grilled Shrimp in a fragrant garlic butter sauce – although we were satisfied with the sauce, the freshness of the shrimp was questionable, Grilled Octopus salad with a balsamic dressing – it was a bit too dry for Z’s liking, Lamb with goat cheese and eggplant, and a dab of garlic roasted dip, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The lamb tapa was exquisite , if only the bites were a little bigger…. Then again it was up to D to be the carnivore that night as Z had his diet to think about.

Another hour had seemed to pass and yet we still were not graced with the second course. We sipped on some Portuguese wine, another suggestion by Mr. Eye Candy, until we had received our fish. A Black Cod fillet and a Chilean Sea bass; both dishes were made exactly the same way-a small portion of grilled fish with cucumber pickle, red onion & capers on top, on  a  dollop of garlic mashed potatoes. The incessant idea of the food seemed to be GARLIC- on the fish , the potatoes and the vegetables. The dishes were quite basic as they lacked any form of creativity. And it was disappointing that both fish tasted exactly the same except one seemed a tad saltier than the other.

We were just so confused as to why it took so long for the food to come when its composition didn’t seem to have any flare whatsoever! On another note, we felt that the restaurant failed to meet the basic standard of service. We only received water when we had asked for it and the glasses were never refilled. As we had mentioned earlier, the time it took between each course was absurd and even laughable. The friendly and easy on the eyes staff kept us from dozing off between servings.

We decided to end the night with a traditional Portuguese trifle type of dessert. It was an egg white, custard and biscuit layered cup that was interestingly good.

Finally ready to end our three hour endeavor, Mr. Eye Candy came over with the bill. A whopping $100 a head! This was upsetting and unjustifiable as the food was really not worth this much. Had the price tag not been so high we might have given them a better rating. We awarded 3 toothpicks  (mostly because Mr. Eye Candy made it some what of an enjoyable experience)

–  Shared one end of the toothpick with my partner

Price: For party of 2 with a two glasses of wine a staggering $200

Details: 4281 boulevard Saint Laurent

Montreal, QC H2W 1Z4

The restaurant is open

Monday to Friday: noon to 11 PM

•Saturday: 6 PM to 3 AM (kitchen closes at 11 PM)

Valet parking service available on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (evenings)

Tel : 514 849 2070

www.portuscalle.ca

Buon Appetito

November 4, 2010 - Leave a Response



IL Mulino, an inviting Italian eatery located in the heart of Little Italy, was an exciting pick from the variety of restaurants in this cultural district of Montreal. We were welcomed in Italian by the charming owner Aniello Covone who devoted his attention solely to us.

Although we were given the hand written menu that changes daily, Mr.Covone decided it would be best if he were to select our choices for the evening. We then warmed up our appetites with complimentary oven-baked tomato foccacia bread topped with fresh basil and a side of black olives with roasted jalapeno peppers.

Mr.Covone insisted we indulge in a dozen freshly shucked oysters. The Raspberry Point Oysters were a mouthful of a wonderfully salty taste with an interesting sweet aftertaste.

A selection of pastas were plated for each of us so we could experience the menu to its fullest: The Gnocchi con Pomodoro é Basilica were like little pillows that melt in your mouth.  The Tortelli di Fava stuffed with pecorino cheese were simply dazzling. The lush autumn Risotto with pumpkin and roasted speck was infused in a red wine reduction.


Zesty Z ordered the mind-boggling wild Boar chop with caramelized onions delicately placed on top- simply put Z had an infusion of taste buds coming from different directions.


Delicious D had an Arctic Char dish with a cream of shallot sauce on a bed of fava beans.  D was not entirely impressed with it, although she would give the presentation an A.

We had brought along a picky eater with us this time, luckily Mr. Covone was very accommodating and suggested a Gnocchi Gorgonzola that was off the menu. It was swimming in a full-bodied pungent Gorgonzola sauce.

So for any of you who are not satisfied with the menu of 10 selections, rest assured Mr. Covone can assist!

On to the dolci……a nectarous White Chocolate Panacotta, a sinful Fondant au chocolate that left us dreaming about it the next morning, and of course the quintessential Italian dessert,  tiramisuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu, that made us feel as though we were floating up in the air with every bite.

Dear Mr. Covone,

Thank you for the wonderful experience we had at your restaurant! The attentive service, creative dishes, and the “feast for the eyes” presentation were phenomenal.

Looking forward to dining with you again soon.

Sincerely,

2thpick

–  Complete satisfaction was a toothpick away

Price: For a table of 2 with wine $120-$135. ( Without a Dozen Oysters )

Details: 236 rue St-Zotique est, Montréal, Québec

514-273-5776

http://www.ilmulino.ca/

Opening Hours:

Tuesday – Saturday:  6:00 PM – 10:00 PM

Sunday & Monday – Closed