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Posts Tagged ‘B’

The menu of this small corner resto has many of the expected classic Korean dishes, but also some that don’t quite seem right, like spring rolls and a bunch of salads. Korean food tends to be quite uniform, so any deviations are quite obvious. The only complimentary side dish that came with our meal were little bowls of an odd sort of cabbage kimchi which was mostly sesame oil. Usually Korean restaurants provide more of these little dishes.

The food was just ok. I did not care for the vegetarian pancake, which was an odd thing, perhaps made with…potato?… completely saturated with oil and probably deep fried. It wasn’t like a latke and resembled more like a drowned hashbrown than anything else – usually this pancake is made with flour and is lightly panfried. As it was, it was hard to taste or see anything but fried oil.

The bibimbap was fine, though as a pregnant woman I was a little taken aback that the egg was cracked in completely raw. Often the egg in this dish is presented sunny side up at least. The hot stone bowl and hot rice helped to cook it, but the presentation was a little odd. Bulgogi was served sizzling on a hot cast iron skillet and came with some large lettuce leaves, a little bit of sauce, kimchi, and rice.

Service was not terrible but also not great. I think this is the first Korean restaurant I’ve ever been in with all non-Asian waitstaff, though it looked like most of the people in the kitchen were Asian. Our water glasses were never refilled. When we asked about dessert, the waiter brought the menu back to the table and said that there was only one thing on it that they had left. We declined, paid, and left.

Overall, I was a little disappointed with the food and would not crave anything on their menu. If we get desperate for Korean, we might come back, but otherwise it lacks any great pull to bring a diner there. And I did not approve of the forks on every table, nor the wide chopsticks – Korean chopsticks are usually the bamboo disposable kind or very slim stainless steel.

177 rue Bernard Ouest and Avenue l’Esplanade

Bus: 160

Metro: Outremont or Rosemont (but not close)

http://restaurantomma.com/

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We chose this restaurant because it’s just across the street from Lincoln Center. It even has a prix fixe pre-theater menu and the decor is modern and sophisticated with outdoor seating during warmer weather and a sexy bar – everything one could want in a NYC bistro with a famous name. Unfortunately, the experience was overpriced for what it was, and we were all a little disappointed, especially since this was to be our Christmas present to our family.

Menu items had French names – and the bistro’s name is pronounced in the French way which I unreasonably find even more pretentious – but none of it seemed particularly French. There was numerous hostesses, servers, and busboys, but service was not as attentive as one expects from a high class downtown NYC restaurant. Water glasses were not refilled without prompting and the food service was slow – despite arriving at 5:30pm for a 3-course dinner and being rather fast eaters, we had to rush dessert and coffee and then sprint across the street in order to catch our 7:30pm opera (yes, after literally running across the square and up three flights of stairs, we made it to our seats with less than a minute before the curtain rose).

A helpful wine steward helped select wines to our taste. We were started out with a basket of bread and butter and some tasty gougères. The appetizer of velouté de poisson was a small cup of a rich, cream-based broth with a couple mussels and tiny cubes of potato. I wish I had gotten the merlu as my main course, which was tender and delicious. My own moules à la “Moracain” were good, but not as special. The chocolate mousse cake was inexplicably drizzled with unattractive strings of mousse, which didn’t add anything at all to the experience – the tiny slivers of poached pears were the best part of it. My hot chocolate was watery and too-hot.

The restaurant isn’t completely hopeless, and it had an intriguing – and expensive – special pork menu and truffle specials which makes me think that perhaps our dining experience would have been better had we been willing to explore more of the à la carte and special menu rather than the prix fixe selection. And perhaps had we had a reservation a half hour or even an hour earlier.

1900 Broadway,  New York, NY 10023, USA

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There’s something about Southern food which suits the balmy summer as well as the chilly winter. Hattie’s is a pleasant family-friendly restaurant in downtown Saratoga Springs, with just the right amount of pretension to avoid being a “value” restaurant. I’ve stopped here three times already during Montreal-New Jersey drives – it’s my favourite stop so far.

There’s a website, blog, and even little brochures about the restaurant’s history. An old stove was being used as a flower planter in the front. Two window unit air conditioners enforced by ceiling fans keep the dining area cool in the summer. There’s no hostess, so upon entering through the front, diners have to scout out a waiter by the bar to get them a table. Outdoor seating is available during warmer months. The past three times I’ve dined here, I’ve sat at the same table by the bar, under historical photographs of the restaurant’s founder, Hattie, and newspaper clippings.

The bread basket includes warm cornbread and biscuits. Service is friendly, but not overly attentive. Portions are generous. My excellent chicken and dumplings were hearty, spicy, well-seasoned, and just perfectly satisfying for the cold wintery evening. This was my first time eating chicken and dumplings, which, according to a novel I recently read, is a Southern panacea, and after eating as much of the huge bowl as I could, I felt revitalized and was ready to go forth and try making them myself.

Families and couples alike seem comfortable here. I’d recommend going early to avoid a crowd. The restaurant has an auxiliary “chicken shack” fastfood-style place where one can get Hattie’s fried chicken and sweet potato fries.

45 Phila Street, Saratoga Springs, NY, USA

See my July 2012 review here.

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I’ll admit to not really understanding small gourmet boutique shops, possibly because, being from the NJ suburbs, gourmet shops are often mega gourmet supermarkets like Wegmans and Whole Foods. Fou d’Ici has a limited selection of gourmet, often all-natural and expensively packaged grocery items, cheeses, butcher, seafood, as well as a small pastry dessert counter and hot and cold prepared foods counter. Shelves only have a few items, neatly and evenly spaced apart. I’ve had good experiences with the overpriced mini cannoli and Petits Gateaux cupcakes.

The other day, I found myself at a meeting not too far from Fou d’Ici, and stopped in for one of their prepared sandwiches for lunch. To my surprise, it was quite enjoyable, and worth the price (just over $6 after taxes). The buttery and delicate salmon had been nicely seasoned with a strong black pepper, and was put together with tomato, lettuce, and mayonnaise in a soft sesame seed-encrusted bun. There are small tables and chairs inside of the store, and a line of nearby professionals waiting for the hot taco station.

Metro: Place des Arts

360, boulevard de Maisonneuve Ouest and Rue de Bleury

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Reservations aren’t usually necessary during the week, but they are a good idea. Like many low-key Montreal restos, it doesn’t look like much from the outside, and it doesn’t look like much inside the spartan brick interior. Fortunately, the food speaks louder than anything else and some nights, when the lighting is just right and gently glowing off of the water and wine glasses, it can be a very low-key, romantic establishment.

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This is a small, simple French bistro serving two prix-fixe menus – the special and the  table d’hote. The special is a simple butter lettuce salad with walnuts, thin steak with mustard sauce, frites; the other menu will give you the same plus a soup and profiteroles for an extra $6.95, though I’ve never had room for all of that. My favourite dessert is the peche melba, which is a tall sundae goblet of buttery vanilla ice cream topped with canned peach halves, whipped cream, and toasted almond slivers. The traditional profiteroles are also good. Diners can look out the windows at passers-by in the bustling downtown area, or can look at themselves in the wall mirrors. We’ve never needed reservations.

2022 Rue Peel at Blvd. de Maisonneuve O.

metro: Peel

See my Sept. 2009 review here.

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There might be a quicker way to get to the food court underneath the Tour Scotia, but I usually enter through the revolving doors of the Scotia Bank skyscraper, walk straight through the open lobby of the bank, and take the small escalator down to the underground area.

There’s Asian stir fry-to-order, Arabic chicken shawarma (often called shish taouk in Montreal), burgers, and a Subway counter just around the corner. The food court gets very quiet during the summer, some shops even close down, but can be busy with long lines. Akli does shawarma and generous stew plates, and has coffee carafes filled with hot mint tea by the register. My juicy chicken shawarma included a lot of lettuce, hummus, and tomato and was wrapped in paper then heated in a panini press, which made it warm throughout but kept the pita soft. I don’t usually tip at counters, but there was a young kid helping out, so I dropped in a loonie. This is the sort of lunch food court that is convenient because of location and it’s right across the street from McGill.

Metro: McGill

Tour Scotia, 1000 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest and Rue Mansfield

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