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Posts Tagged ‘B/B-’

Bustling hole-in-the-wall 2nd floor resto in Chinatown. Some might think the Cantonese food is too greasy, since most things seem to be stir fried with a thickened glaze. There is a sufficient Asian-to-Caucasian ratio to warrant it attention. It’s politically incorrect, but realistically a good gauge of Chinese restaurant quality if there are more Asians to Caucasians diners. Lots of large tables with lazy susans and lots of slurping. Yes, there is General Tao’s chicken and Kung Pao chicken, too. The soups seemed to be popular – perhaps one day I’ll get my husband to try the shark fin soup or one of the various squid and seafood dishes with me. The chowmein is tasty, but needs to be eaten quickly before the sauce soaks into it. The mushrooms, bamboo and bokchoy were ok, too. Two main dishes is sufficient for two people. Many specials are written on the walls in Chinese.

70 Rue de la Gauchetiere O. at Rue St. Urbain

metro: Place d’Armes

See my September 2009 review here.

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This is one of the better steak houses in a touristy quarter that has many mediocre steak houses. While the food is tasty and well-presented for a steak house, demerits are taken for slow and haphazard service and noticeably greasy and smudged plates. My husband and a dinner companion noted that the tap water tasted funny, but I did not notice this myself.

I asked the server to replace my bread plate, but didn’t get it until the second bread basket arrived. Our second bread basket was steaming hot, but had probably been microwaved, as it immediately turned chewy when exposed to air. The spinach salad looked great. Portions are what you’d expect from a steak house. My juicy and tender prime rib arrived with tasty fried onions, barely garlicky garlic mashed potatoes, fresh horseradish, and jus. I didn’t quite have room for it, but attempted a very gluey slice of cheesecake, which probably should have been chilled a bit more, topped with cherries in syrup.

metro: Champ de Mars

25, rue Saint-Paul Est and rue Saint Jean Baptiste

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My husband and I went to Artisanal, a cheese-focused French-style bistro, twice when we were dating, and again during this past holiday season with another couple. Nothing has changed. Reservations are strongly recommended, though we were able to get seats by the bar. Service is friendly but sometimes unbearably slow. The menu is fairly simple. Gougères were cheesy, savory, and just as delicious as when I first bit into their hot puffy little spheres several years ago. The fondue du jour, a Gruyère, cornichon, and bacon fondue, actually worked, though was not as complex as the Artisanal Blend fondue. In addition to the bread which came with the order, we got juicy and tender beef tips, sausage, green apples, and crudités. Two small fondues were almost enough for four people, but it was just the right amount when we followed it with chocolate fondue, which came with a selection of strawberries, banana, dried apricots, spice biscuits, housemade marshmallows, and mini madeleines. One order was enough for the table, although we had to get a second tray of fruit and sweets to finish the small pot of chocolate. Apparently it was also a good addition to the postprandial coffee.

At the end of dinner, I realized that one might be able to purchase gift baskets at the cheese counter in back, and attempted to surreptitiously fulfill a Christmas request from my husband, which was a gourmet food basket with crackers and cheese. Unfortunately, I was waited upon by a young man who didn’t seem to know what he was doing and who took just as long as the table server had to fill my order. In a cheese-focused restaurant/cheese shop, I was surprised that there was no talleggio, and found the sole manchego to be rather bland; the Gruyère was ok. As I rushed to keep up with my departing party, they finally handed me my finished custom gift box, but told me to keep the shopping bag horizontal, which, as a we traipsed about NYC for a while afterwards, visiting Times Square and Rockerfeller Center, became rather uncomfortable to hold. Plus, they did not attach the large box of crackers which did not fit into the box; it keep slipping out of the horizontal shopping bag onto the ground.

While the food is delicious and very satisfying, the long wait in between ordering food and receiving food is too long.

2 Park Avenue (Entrance is on 32nd Street between Park & Madison Avenue), New York, NY  10016, USA

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The most admirable feature in this upscale resto is by far the striking artisan glass serving plates. That being said, the appetizer was pleasing, a shredded king salmon and Alaska king crab salad with sliced granny apples; the main courses were just ok. The roasted U10 scallops were perfectly seared and tender, but the soupy barley risotto lacked texture and I craved a salty, citrusy, and/or crunchy accent. The underseasoned Boileau deer chop tasted like the grill, and the accompanying wild mushrooms were earthy and flavorful, but the aged cheddar shavings were poorly integrated into the dish.

Service, while friendly, was disorganized and would have benefited from more polished training. Table-side presentation was perfunctory and lacking in that extra flourish only found at upscale restaurants. None of the many dishes served, both ordered and amuse-bouche-style, stood out as wow-worthy. The main dessert was an underseasoned, rubbery panne cotta with passable citrus and marscapone topping (the server said she’d come to explain it and never did). The last part of dessert, which, like the steady stream of amuse-bouches throughout the meal, was an explosion of little things, and more pleasing due to its quantity than presentation or taste. The selection included comfort food blow-backs like fluffy cotton candy, hot mini madeleines, house-made candy and a selection of truffles. The charming take-home mini pound cake was delicious yet dry.

Overall, Europea goes through the visual motions of being trendy, with foams and structures, without flavorful success. There is a chef’s table, but I don’t think I could contain myself from making snide comments about flaccid parmesan crisps or tasteless foams and apple caviar.

metro: Peel or Lucien L’Allier

1227 Rue de la Montagne at Rue St. Catherine O. or at Blvd. Rene-Levesque O.

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Hole-in-the-wall 2nd floor resto in Chinatown. Some might think the Cantonese food is too greasy, since most things seem to be stir fried. We didn’t have a stellar experience our first time, but there was a sufficient Asian-to-Caucasian ratio (politically incorrect, but realistically a good gage of Chinese restaurant quality) to merit it a second try before passing final judgement; the resto was full of large parties when we left. The soups seemed to be popular. Perhaps we didn’t order well – the many specials are written on the walls in Chinese, after all.

70 Rue de la Gauchetiere O. at Rue St. Urbain

metro: Place d’Armes

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Affordable table d’hote menu, though uninspired cuisine and food is almost more diner than bistro. Generic vegetable potage, unpleasant cold spots in the beef stew (microwave it a little longer next time, please), cold dry carrot cake. Pleasant service. Ok for residents too lazy to go elsewhere, but hardly recommendable for  foodies with the entire culinary treasure trove of Montreal at their disposal.

363 St. Francois-Xavier at Rue St. Paul O.

metro: Place d’Armes

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Not sure why Frommers rates this place so highly – dim interior, with a selection that screams that they can’t really decide what they offer. Chocolates at the counter, small open chiller for high-end bottled beverages, some breads, and a tiny sandwich counter way off to the left corner. Chocolate croissant today was too hard and had too little chocolate. Abundant seating to watch tourists buy trinkets across the street, but otherwise it doesn’t have much going for it, aside from slightly lower coffee prices compared to Van Houtte. The obvious street entrance is often locked, with a sign pointing to a less obvious side entrance to the left. Also unclear where to put used dishes – should they be left at the tables, or brought to the counter?

75 Rue Notre-Dame O. at Rue St. Laurent

metro: Place d’Armes

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