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Posts Tagged ‘by the Sherbrooke metro’

There are few places with as much history and local charm as this small deli on the Main with a large orange sign. Its name wasn’t always such a mouthful, after all, and now it has a musical in its honor. A must for anyone visiting or living in Montreal. The wait to get inside may take a few minutes, but service is incredibly efficient and the turnover is very fast. There are other things on the menu, but the servers even seem to push just the smoked meat. Smoked meat is a Montreal cross between pastrami and corned beef. Steaming hot smoked meat, juicy and flavorful, stuffed between unassuming plain white bread with just a bit of mustard. Note the enormous pile of uncut briskets by the window. They even have mugs and t-shirts!

I recommend getting a medium smoked meat (lean, medium, and fatty available) and pickle per person with a shared dairy-free cole slaw; for groups, get a plate, which is merely unassembled piles of smoked meat and bread. Fries are pretty good, too, though I’ve never had room, as the sandwiches are generously stuffed. Be prepared to sit at the counter or at communal tables next to sometimes rowdy sports nuts visiting from Toronto. Family-friendly, though very small children might get trampled if left unwatched. Open late. Cash only. Pay at the counter/cash.

3895 Blvd. St. Laurent at St. Cuthbert

metro: Saint-Laurent or Sherbrooke

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Au Pied du Cochon is one of those contemporary “upscale downscale” restos (as my husband puts it) which overemphasizes its downscale quality while providing upscale food and service. They have a successful schtick, and they sell it with just the right degree of over-the-top glee. It can be hard to get a reservation, so plan ahead. This time around, it took two unreturned voicemail messages, one unreturned email, and then finally one last-minute phone call the night before which miraculously got us a 7pm reservation on the next day.

There is no sign on the outside of the resto and there is a strategically placed tv in the restroom which plays a lopped, frenetic promo tape. Despite the difficulty in getting a reservation, service was excellent, and not a 10 minute period went by without waitstaff patrolling by to wipe crumbs off the table or refresh the bread basket.

I enjoyed the strongly cultured butter with my bread. It was tempting to fill up on bread and butter alone, but of course we had other food which had to be eaten. For starters, my husband and I shared a very tender and juicy tomato tarte and some spicy cod fritters which were a tad too salty. I ordered the foie gras cromesquis for myself, which were two bite-sized fried balls of foie gras that were supposed to explode in my mouth. Unfortunately, I was too worried about burning my tongue after being warned by the server to really enjoy them; they merely melted a bit.

I had trouble deciding what to order, but I know that it had to include foie gras. I went with the iconic duck in a can again. Duck in a can was a duck breast, 100g. foie gras, vegetable concoction which is sealed in a can, boiled for 20 minutes, opened with a can opener at your table and smashed into a tower on top of a slice of toast and a parsnip puree. The dark, caramelized vegetables melded with the bread and parsnips and my red, tender duck breast was wonderful with the dreamy foie gras. It’s a very heavy, rich, darkly coloured dish, oozing with a lot of fat, which I think I’ll have to overlook the next time I dine at this resto.

We were disappointed to hear that the maple stout floater was not available, as we had remembered it quite fondly from out last visit over the summer, and opted to split the poached pear and ice cream. It arrived inexplicably swimming in a cold liquored broth. I enjoyed the bit of intensely vanilla ice cream, but the pear reeked too strongly of alcohol to really enjoy. My decaf latte tasted like water after the richness of the meal.

This is not a resto for the faint of stomach or appetite, nor is it an ideal place for children. It can get very noisy, and depending on who your fellow diners are, it can also get a little rowdy. But the food is inspired and this is definitely a “top 10” resto. I’d recommend going at least twice, however, or even several times, because the more frequently one goes, the less apt one is to try to order everything on the menu at once and pig out.

Metro: Mont-Royal

536 Avenue Duluth Est and Avenue de Chateaubriand

 

See my April 2011 write-up here.

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This café feels more like a diner on the weekend, especially when it’s too cold to sit outside. Food is adequate and has all that one would expect from a café in the Plateau, service is very laidback, and the main reason that one comes here is the awesome vantage point for people watching on Rue Saint Denis. It also had a mention in one of Kathy Reichs’ Tempe Brennan books as the temporary work place of Andrew Ryan’s daughter.

metro: Sherbrooke

3635 Rue St. Denis at Rue Cherrier

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On the street that houses a number of closely packed, worthwhile restos, is yet another one in Reservoir, a casual yet trendy francophone bistro. Anglophones, bring a bilingual dictionary, as even the website’s English version seems to be perpetually “coming soon.” Still, the weekend brunch at this Plateau resto is something to look forward to when you want a contemporary Quebecois, foody-friendly repast.

The floor-to-ceiling windows are removed during nice weather, which suits the laid-back brasserie air. Service is friendly, but minimal and very slow. The main draw is the food, which is nicely presented, well-seasoned, and delicious. Selections are scribbled on a large chalkboard, but are also presented on a printed menu, ranging from eggs florentine with gravlax to thick crepes with fresh fruit compotes to juicy pan-fried mackerel on top of asparagus, fresh peas, and zesty citrus puree. My first brunch here was an unbelievable scallops with bacon garnished with cauliflower and citrus purees – I had seen it at another table, artfully arranged on a large wooden slab, when we walked in and thought immediately “I want that.” The chocolate pot de crème with fleur de sel topped with thick dulce du leche is unbelievable and very rich.

Metro: Sherbrooke

9 Ave. Duluth Est at Blvd. St. Laurent

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High end francophone chocolatier boutique, though perhaps worth the high price. View their selection under glass counter tops, similar to perusing small artifacts in a museum, complete with little descriptive tags and pleasant yet slightly snooty clerks. Intriguing shapes and flavors. The green tea truffles are surprisingly good with a clean taste, though it was slightly awkward to order individual items; apparently you’re supposed to order by the box. Pricing isn’t obvious, though expect to pay a pretty penny. Hot chocolate is probably made with heavy cream and was too rich for my taste.

Update 1/17/10: Demotion to B- because several bars of novelty chocolate were terribly flavored. The cayenne dark chocolate was inedible and tasted like solid cayenne; the fleur de sel dark chocolate had too sizeable a mass of salt in the center of each peice.

3957 Rue. St. Denis at Rue Roy E.

metro: Sherbrooke

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Quaint francophone café with plenty of outdoor seating with a view to see and be seen. Eggs Benedict (1/2 benedict, 1/2 Florentine) passable, but a little heavy.

3635 Rue St. Denis at Rue Cherrier

metro: Sherbrooke

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Do you know where Reunion Island is? I didn’t, until I learned that that’s where my landlords currently reside. Apparently it’s a French island off the east coast of Madagascar – rather like a French Hawaii, as my husband puts it. From the many pictures of volcanos and straw hats on the walls of Le Pinton de la Fournaise, it looks more like the southern island of New Zealand to me.

Anyways, this kitschy resto offers you unpretentious exotic cuisine in a charmingly eclectic setting. The food incorporates African and Indian spices without being too spicy for the weak of stomach. Small ramekins with garlic marinated beans stabbed with toothpicks are placed at every table, followed by bread and butter, followed by your soup and/or salad, entree, and dessert. Their chicken and shark are specialties – I can certainly vouch for the chicken, though I was kind of full even after the soup and crab stuffed avocado (which was more like an avocado and crab salad). When I asked what combava was, I was handed what looked like a large lime – voila! combava, a distinctive citrus fruit often used in Thai cooking. I might still confuse that aroma with lemon grass – additional research definitely required. The server, who looked dressed and as laidback as if he were at a beach cabana, served the entire restaurant. While I saw a table of well-dressed middle aged women, casual attire also seems appropriate.

Make reservations or go early, as service inevitably slows when the tables fill, though the server moves quickly. Portions are very generous; the tasting menu is too large for one person.

835 Ave. Duluth E. at Rue St. Hubert

Metro: Mont-Royal or Sherbrooke

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