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Posts Tagged ‘Europea’

Europea’s – and consequently its sandwich boutique’s – focus is on its image as a sexy, lavish place to eat. The sandwich boutique is really just a takeout place and there are only two small table areas by the door, but the little touches let you know that you’ve chosen your sandwich shop well. In addition to the sandwich counter and the macaroon counter, one can buy pretentious gourmet items like Himalayan black salt, an espresso machine, and bath salts. In my “boite” – a beautiful and reusable fabric lunch bag emblazoned with the Europea logo – I found my lightly toasted brie, apple, walnut, and grape sandwich, a bottle of Europea water, and chocolate mousse. The sandwich was just right – creamy, sweet, a little crunchy, and satisfying and the mousse was creamy and rich. That box option is just under $13, which is a good deal for what it is.

Europea Espace Boutique is only open for lunch Monday-Friday, and expect to wait in line during peak hours. It’s best to go closer to noon than 2pm for sandwich freshness, but anytime before then and all the desserts might not be ready…and we wouldn’t want that!

Metro: Place d’Armes

33, Rue Notre-Dame Ouest and Boulevard Saint-Laurent

See my December 2010 review here.

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In honour of Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, it seemed prudent to check out afternoon tea in Montreal, and up to bat first is this café, which is yet another piece of the Europea group, housed in Tiffany’s-like Birks.

Afternoon tea is available only after 2:30pm (and closer to 2:45pm, they said when I made my reservation) and the café closes at 5pm. Personally, I would enjoy afternoon tea for lunch or dinner, since it’s clearly a meal, but I suppose that’s the traditional time during which it is served. We were given menus and a tea timer with three different coloured sands, depending on the darkness of tea. We both chose Himalayan Darjeeling, a lightly colored black tea that arrived in an Asian-style cast iron pot. Then a long tray of food was set between us, with two of each. There was a plate of warmish scones with creamy Devonshire cream and too-little strawberry jam. Then three canapes made with cured salmon, foie gras and cranberries, and cucumber and cream cheese. I swapped half of my mini savory club sandwich with my husband for his foie gras canape. Then macaroons, chocolates, and a maple mousse and a chocolate mousse.

When everything first came out, it didn’t seem like it would be enough for a full meal, but by the time we got to the mousse, my husband was full and I got to eat both of the shot glasses myself. I left feeling quite full and satisfied. Service was excellent and the setting was similar to a nice museum café, with interesting things to look at in display cases on the edges of the eating area. While the tea presentation paid sufficient homage to expected English tradition, the service was modern and contemporary. I did not feel out of place or expected to act in a certain way. There was some language-related confusion when the credit card reader failed to prompt me for a tip and I wanted to leave the tip in cash, but the café thought that I wanted to pay for whole bill in cash. They refunded the charge on my card – I thought they had tried to charge the card again in order to add the tip, and they thought they were refunding the charge because I was going to pay for the whole bill in cash. A few minutes later, I got a call while I was browsing in the nearby Bay department store, and got a small bag of sweets for my trouble when I returned to clear it up. Now that I think of it, we both should have received a bag of sweet anyway, along with our tea, but oh well. It seemed worth $26.50/person plus taxes and tip.

Metro: McGill

Mezzanine level at the Montreal Birks Store, 1240 Square Phillips, Saint-Catherine Ouest and Place Phillips

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Europea’s – and consequently its sandwich boutique’s – focus is on its image as a sexy, lavish place to eat. The sandwich boutique is really just a takeout place and there’s only one table by the door, but the little touches let you know that you’ve chosen your sandwich shop well. In addition to the sandwich counter and the macaroon counter, one can buy pretentious gourmet items like Himalayan black salt and even an espresso machine. In my takeout bag – a beautiful royal blue fabric lunch bag emblazoned with the Europea logo – I found my lightly toasted brie, apple, walnut, and grape sandwich and  a complimentary housemade passionfruit marshmallow. The sandwich was just right – creamy, sweet, a little crunchy, and satisfying – and the marshmallow was surprisingly enjoyable. It brought back memories of an extravagant dinner my husband and I had shared at Europea last winter, and the chef’s choice dessert which was an explosion of confectionary creations.

Metro: Place d’Armes

33, Rue Notre-Dame Ouest and Boulevard Saint-Laurent

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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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