Santa Barbara – Outremont

 

A while ago, my friend T and I passed by this restaurant and were attracted to the menu that was posted out on the window due to the slightly romantic yet relaxed feel of the restaurant. What I remembered most from the menu were the unique names of their drinks: The Architect, The Mathematician…

T had tried this restaurant several times, and I had only finally gone yesterday.

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I started off with the Agua Bendito, which consisted of Bombay gin (for which I substituted for Hendrick’s), cucumber, lemon syrup and mint. An obviously fresh drink made even fresher with the Hendricks. It was a great way to hype myself up for summertime.

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My friend M and I shared two appetizers, the Kale and avocado salad with shiitake and sunflower seeds, and the leek fritatas that came with a zesty yoghurt pairing.

The salad was quite interesting with the shiitake mushrooms, giving it a very earthy taste. An unlikely addition was the avocado, which changed up the texture quite a bit along with the sunflower seeds. It was definitely a more wintery type of dish, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.Processed with VSCOcam

As for the leek fritatas, the inside was a blend of leek and some sort of carby mixture, as with most fritatas. The leek was quite nice and added a great flavour to it. The batter was a little on the oily side, so I would have liked to see them perhaps lay it on some parchment paper before serving. The yoghurt dip went beautifully with the very oily fritata, the tartness of it relieving the greasy mouth feel.Processed with VSCOcam

For my main, I ordered the butternut squash gnocchi served on a bed of Asian Spinach sautéed in garlic. I thought this dish lacked an oomph. Perhaps it’s because I’m not a big cheese fan, so the cheese didn’t really cut it for me, but I found the gnocchi to be quite bland. It was also very overwhelming because I was only able to finish half of this. It’ll definitely fill you up if you’re looking for an (un)healthy (several) serving of carbs!

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M got the salmon burger, which looked absolutely delicious. The burger was topped off with green onion and sriracha sauce, among many others. The salmon was quite thick and was cooked so that the juices were all retained in the center. M said this was absolutely delicious, but again she couldn’t finish it. She commented that the mashed potatoes were more healthy (not a lot of butter), but tasted a little bland. The salad on the side was an excellent portion (my dietitian self speaking), and was a great fresh pairing to the salmon burger.

Processed with VSCOcamEven though our stomachs were exploding, we heard the options for dessert anyway. And I’m glad we did! They had a black sesame crème brulée, which we only needed to glance at each other to know we both wanted to share it. The creme was of a very smooth yet rich texture, with the ground sesame paste sitting at the bottom. The combination was quite nice, and it wasn’t too sweet or too bitter. I did think they could have amped up the black sesame paste a little bit, but perhaps they were being conservative for some of the patrons who weren’t too used to the strong and fragrant black sesame taste. We thought the sugar layer at the top was too burnt and too thick, so I ended up just eating what’s underneath.

Overall, I think this restaurant has some very interesting and uncommon dishes. They’re not extremely unique or innovative, but definitely has a good variety of palette and takes from different cultures. It’s hard to pinpoint what type of cuisine they do, but definitely a mix of asian, european and american. The execution of the food could be done a little better, with a better balance of flavours. But I did appreciate the fact that they only had two cooks, a very small and open kitchen, with a fairly large variety and number of dishes to offer. The atmosphere is extremely relaxed and perfect for a Friday after a full (or maybe just 4 days) week of work.

The next time I come, I will definitely be asking for an Elderflower collins, as I had spotted that they had St. Germain (and obviously Hendrick’s) as I finished my drink. I was a little bummed that I had not seen this earlier, but it just gives me another reason to come back!

Service: 4/5
Food: 8.4/10
Price: $30-50
Atmosphere: relaxed, cute, “santa barbara”, slightly romantic

Santa Barbara Restaurant on Urbanspoon

~ kehwon

 

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Biiru – Japanese Bistro – Latin Quartier

Starting work at the hospital this past week, it has been tough. So some of my friends and I decided to catch each other up on our exciting new experiences by going to grab some food (and drinks of course) at an izakaya very close to where we live.

Biiru was a place that we’ve all seen recently, and since it is still relatively new, there wasn’t much information about it. From the pictures and the menu, we decided it was worth trying.

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The décor is a love-hate for me. I love the vibe it gave, from the wood tables to the bouncy stools at several of the tables. I love that they had many different types of wall décor, and I absolutely loved their washroom signs. However, I would’ve liked to see cleaner typography when it came to the katakana and hiragana on the walls and on the back of the chairs. I didn’t like how it wasn’t clean, and were literally painted on by hand. Perhaps that was the style they were going for, but it just looked amateur and sloppy to me.

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We were seated at the bar since there were no other spots available (even though the whole time we were there, there in fact was a table open…). It was obviously difficult to talk to everyone, but worked out well in terms of sharing food. My friend and I shared four dishes: their Japadog, Mushroom Okonomiyaki, Chirashi, and a seafood tempura.

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Starting off with the Japadog, it came in an Asian dinner roll, the ones that are glazed and are very buttery and sweet inside. My friend hated this type of bread (but I quite enjoy it). The “dog” was a handmade shrimp and porc sausage which turned out quite well. I loved that it wasn’t perfectly rounded, and looked house-made. The flavouring was okay, not too strong or bland. The sauce was a mix of mayo and generic teriyaki-type sauce, giving a creamy yet sweet taste to the dog. It was also garnished with a good amount of purple cabbage. Overall, it was okay for $7, with them being lazy with the bread, but picked it up with the sausage.

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The Mushroom Okonomiyaki was probably the best of the bunch. Although it was priced at $13, I did think that this was probably the most authentic (while being innovative) compared to the other dishes. There was a very generous amount of bonito flakes, which I loved. The dough was quite good, and it retained that slight uncooked texture that I absolutely love (not everyone’s type of thing). The mushrooms were not incredibly tasty or rich, but complimented well with the very small amount of truffle oil they added. It was simple, tasty and overall a good filling dish.

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The Chirashi was absolutely awful and just plain sad. The only raw fish included was 3 sad pieces of leftover sashimi, not cut properly, and of bad quality. The rice was done quite well, and I did like the lettuce they added to give a freshness. But the rest that was on the “chirashi” were cucumbers, egg and one piece of eel that was probably 1/8th of your palm. Sad and pathetic, I wish I never ordered it.

Lastly the tempura was also a huge fail. The batter was awful, the selection was also awful. We didn’t go for the celery tempura, because that’s just silly. They did not have any type of crunch to it, and were a little too damp. When you pick up the shrimp, tiny pieces didn’t crumble off, and fell limp in my chopsticks. The sauce was some strange, non-traditional sauce as well. Priced at $12, I wasted my money on this one.

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My overall impression of the place is just a mediocre, caucasion-fied izakaya. I was a little surprised at the Japadog implementation, but the execution didn’t exceed or meet my expectations. It was by no means any comparison to Vancouver or Japan’s Japadogs. The service was mediocre, given that we were given the bar when there was a table available the whole time we were there (probably a no-show reservation). The cocktails were weak and nasty. They tried to incorporate Japanese ingredients with some traditional North American bar ingredients…but it really didn’t turn out well. You should just stick to beer here. It was a good night solely because the conversations were good.

Biiru on Urbanspoon

Service: 3.5/5
Food: 7/10
Price: $40/person
Environment: Bistro, Izakaya, Asian, Loud, Bustling

~ kehwon

 

Lili co. – Plateau Mont-Royal

To celebrate our end of midterms, me and my girlfriends went to eat at Lili Co, situated on Mentana which is a short walk from Station Mont Royal. I had been here before for brunch, which was phenomenal, but hadn’t tried their dinner. I had actually made a reservation by email, and interestingly, the waitress who served me and Wangfood for brunch last time had remembered me! We had told her that we wrote food blogs, and I guess she remembered my post. So props to you, Lili Co!

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Anyway, after deciding on some wines (which the waiterss was very helpful with), we were explained the menu, as two of us were not fluent in French. I definitely had trouble with some of the less common words, and it turns out that they were organs very uncommonly eaten at restaurants.

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Honey-grilled lamb testicles with roasted garlic, lemon zest, smoked tomatoes and soft wheat

We shared a testicle (yes, testicle) appetizer to start. Obviously we were intrigued when we asked what “animelle” was. Turns out, it was the male genitalia of the lamb! Fun! Honestly though, it did sound delicious. And was it! The testicles were very soft and tender. The texture is like a more fluffy hot dog weiner. The same homogenity throughout the organ, yet very airy, fluffy and soft on the inside. It was very fragrant due to the honey. It was accompanied with a delicious mix of soft wheat, tomatoes and some greens. Lastly, they finished the plating with some plain yoghurt. The three went together perfectly. The yoghurt balanced out the organ-taste of the testicles, while the veggie mixture added the bite that you need.

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Grilled salsify, blood orange syrup, dulce de leche butter, pumpernickel bread crumbs, fleur de sel

This dish was very visually appealing. All the colours and the placement just makes you want to take a picture (and we did). The salsify was something I’d never even heard of, but she told us that it was similar to Jerusalem artichoke. Cutting into it, it was quite firm. The salsify root vegetable itself doesn’t have a lot of flavour, but paired with the pumpernickel bread crumbs and the blood orange syrup, it was quite interesting. The first appetizer was definitely a more flavourful and rich dish, where as this was a lighter one. They played more with the colours and the different textures as opposed to punch of flavour.

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Roasted Duck with braised artichoke, white beans and chorizo butter

For my main, I ordered the magret duck, which is duck with the skin on, and cooked to a medium rare to medium degree. Obviously the duck was done quite nicely. It was a little more chewy than what I’m used to, but I didn’t mind. The artichokes were quite soft, balancing the chewiness of the duck. And the white bean and chorizo butter sauce was quite interesting, with a gritty yet fragrant texture and taste.

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Miso grilled pompano, bacon dashi, mushrooms and chickpeas

My two friends both ordered the miso grilled pompano which is a white fish. It was bathed in this miso soup-sauce, accompanied with clamshell mushrooms and chickpeas. They commented that the dish was WAY too salty, and that it burned my friend’s lips. Such a shame because I think this dish could have had a lot of potential to becoming very tasty.

Overall, I thought that their appetizers had the wow factor and captured your interest, and the mains were not up to the quality of the appetizers. Given the price, I did expect a little more to eat. We weren’t full after the meal, and ended up hitting another place to grab some much needed food after our battle with exams. The service was very nice and you feel more tended-to since they are a smaller restaurant. I think I will be continuing to come back for brunch quite soon, but may not be back for dinner for a while.

Service: 4.7/5
Food: 8.4/10
Atmosphere: masculin, cozy, open kitchen
Price: $40-60 (with wine)

Lili Co. on Urbanspoon

~kehwon

Laloux – Plateau Mont-Royal

Situated on Ave du Pins, Laloux is easily accessible to me. But on the snowy day my friends and I decided to go, it ended up being an adventure. It was hard to find parking since many spaces were unavailable due to the snowbanks. Nevertheless, we got to the restaurant, and it was fairly quiet, as it was Wednesday night.

Before arriving, I had spotted on their facebook page that there was a special menu (menu Entracte) for 2 appetizers and one dessert for $20. This was an incredible deal and since I wasn’t too hungry, I thought this would be a perfect way to try several dishes without being too full. However, after we sat down and everyone ended up wanting this appetizer+dessert deal, the waitress alerted us that this deal was only on the other side of the restaurant: the bar.

Since we all were pretty set on our choices, we decided to just move on over. The quality of the interior decor fell significantly. However it ended up being a nice choice as we became rowdy over a glass of wine.

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Chicken liver mousse, crabapple puree, Genoa cake, almonds and fresh honey.

My friend ordered a chicken liver mousse. After bringing the dish over, the waitress also brought over a long fresh rectangular shaped honey comb, and scraped off a large spoonful of honey onto her plate. It was absolutely spectacular. The presentation is amazing, with the colours complementing each other. It makes for a visually and gastronomically appealing experience.

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Beets salad, roasted carrots, immature juniper berry and wild raisin gel

I of course went for the beet salad, as that has been my go-to for vegetables when eating out. I never have the patience to roast beets myself, due to my small kitchen space and crappy oven. But I actually love the taste and colour of beets. They did it amazingly. The beets weren’t too sour with the sauce, nor too bland. The texture wasn’t too soft and overdone. The plating was nice, but I thought they could have garnished with some greens or a lighter colour. There were magenta and dark purple chips that topped off the salad, which added a nice crunch.

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Seared scallop, Jerusalem artichoke and pine nuts

I then ordered the scallops, which came in a pretty generous portion considering the price. The scallops were done nicely, not too raw on the inside but just enough so that the outside isn’t overdone. The scallions added a nice fresh taste. They also added some rapini on the side to add some colour. The sauce was done quite nicely, and not too salty as can often happen with scallops. I definitely liked that they seared both sides of the scallop – I had ones where they only sear one side and there just isn’t enough flavour and punch.

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Roasted quail, apricot puree and Waldorf salad

Finally, my friend ordered the quail. I normally love quail, but I honestly wasn’t feeling too hungry that night. From what I saw, it seemed like they roasted it quite nicely.

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Seabuckthorn and Kalingo chocolate macaron, seabuckthorn sorbet

My friend went for the giant chocolate macaron. The filling was the Kalingo chocolate, and the two sides and the sorbet were made of seabuckthorn, which is a very tart and sour berry. I didn’t try this, but my friend commented that it really was quite sour. It was also too big for her to finish.

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Lemon tart, rosemary marshmallow, yuzu foam, grapefruit sorbet

For dessert, I opted for the lemon tart, partly because I love citrusy and tartness of these desserts, and partly because there was grapefruit sorbet and yuzu foam. This dessert was absolute perfection. Every bite there is a different texture and taste. With each differnt combination comes a new sensation. I couldn’t get enough of this, it was so amazing. The tart was not too hard (which truly frustrates me), the lemon custard was done in an interesting pattern. There was some crushed hazlenuts sprinkled all over the plate, giving the much needed crunch. The yuzu foam was obviously good. As for the grapefruit sorbet, I have to be honest and say that it was really bitter. However, when paired with anything else on the plate, it was really nice. You can tell that they made the grapefruit sorbet fresh themselves (or at least whoever they bought the sorbet from). Lastly and the most unusual in this mix was the rosemary marshmallow. I’m not a huge rosemary fan, but with the tart it was really good! The stickiness of the marshmallow with the crumble of the tart, the sweetness of the marshmallow with the sourness of the lemon. It was an unlikely pairing, that pleasantly surprises you. Although the appetizers were good, I thought the fun lay in the dessert. It was the most interesting, different and unique experience of the whole night.

Overall, I thought Laloux has some quality dishes. We weren’t even in the main dining room (which I feel like can affect the service and quality of the food), but everything was done quite nicely. I did think that the service was slow, but there was only one waitress on both sides (to my understanding). Although there were probably only 5 tables in the whole restaurant (both sides combined), it was probably a lot of leg work for her to be doing.

I definitely recommend you to come here, whether for their Entracte menu, or regular menu. Just make sure to call ahead so you’re not disappointed, because it may get quite busy on a weekend night!

Service: 3/5
Food: 9.0/10
Atmosphere: Asian (bar), classy (restaurant)
Price: $20 for menu Entracte, $35-50 for regular menu.

Laloux on Urbanspoon

 

~ kehwon

Lawrence – Plateau Mont-Royal

So on this beautiful Saturday morning, WangFood brought me to her favourite brunch place in Montreal. Obviously I had high expectations for this restaurant due to her constant raving about it. With the high expectations, I’m pleased to say, it did not disappoint! We arrived at around 10:20am, and there was no line. We were able to get a table right away; the service was prompt.

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We are both scone-lovers, and she highly recommended me to try it here at Lawrence. That I may even want to take one home after eating. The freshly baked raisin scone was served on an incredibly cute plate, with clotted cream, butter, and strawberry jam. We split the scone between the two of us. The first bite was one of those that make my eyes widen because the flavour is absolutely perfect. The scone was incredibly fragrant and the dough has enough butter taste and flour without making it incredibly greasy. When I break off a piece, the inside is soft yet crumbly (none of that mushiness that one often encounters with scones). The outside was slightly crunchy, and the golden brown colour was absolutely beautiful. The raisins added a tartness and sweetness to combat the heavy butter flavour. It was obviously done to perfection. Paired with the clotted cream and jam mix, it was like heaven. Perhaps it’s because I love scones, but you need to try this before judging!

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I then got the baked egg with celery root and oyster mushrooms. Topped with grated parmesan and parsley, which added colour to the otherwise plain-looking dish. The celery root was cooked until tender, and slightly resembled the softness of cooked potatoes, without the powdery taste. There were two egg yolks that were baked to perfection (in my opinion), and burst into the golden goodness I love. For those of you who prefer not to eat a raw yolk, this may not be the dish for you. The oyster mushroom was crunchy and added the much needed firmer texture to the dish. Everything was smothered in a cream-based thick sauce, and had a more earthy taste to it. I also loved that when it came, it was piping hot. The baked egg was served with two pieces of buttered toasted bread, which I was unable to finish, but are great for getting that last bit of yolk.

Overall, everything I tasted was absolutely amazing (I had a bite of WangFood’s Pig Trotter). I will definitely be coming back to try their other dishes (perhaps with tfung). Service was good, I didn’t ever have to wait to get what I wanted, they seemed to know and came over fairly promptly. The restaurant seats about 30, which may be the reason that service is more manageable. If you haven’t tried this amazing brunch place, please do! It’s also situated near lots of other amazing food joints (Voro, Kem Coba, Fairmount Bagels) as it’s on Fairmount and St Laurent.

Service: 4/5
Food: 9.1/10
Atmosphere: relaxed
Price: $15-25

Lawrence on Urbanspoon

~ kehwon

A disturbing and disappointing moment at Patati Patata

I’ve always regarded patati patata as my go-to authentic poutine place. I never minded that service was slow and you had to wait because I liked that their poutine was always of steady quality. However couple nights ago, I had the worst eating experience ever. Service was slow as always, and things were as they always were. However when we were leaving, we left a 10% tip for their slow service and overall minimal effort of serving. The one in charge of cooking, who took the money had the nerve to yell at us “that’s a pretty lame tip”. I’m still bothered today, and was very taken aback at the fact that they expect a heavy tip for fast food. I’ve never seen anyone tip McDonalds, and no one says anything about that. But me leaving a 10% tip was apparently untolerable by the people at Patati Patata.

Recently I’d read an article from Montreal Gazette about two anonymous waiters who were “tired of” certain behaviours of their patrons. Some of these annoyances included “leaving less than a 15% tip”, “asking for a booth”, “making puns”, “complimenting the food but leaving a bad tip”. I had hesitated to writing any type of response on this blog, since I had never had a truly horrible experience. Well I just had it at a place I regularly recommend my friends to. They can be sure that I will never recommend anyone to a place where the waiters yell at you. The service industry is a difficult sector, I agree. I’ve only ever had one experience that was truly outstanding, and it merited a 30% tip. Their service was that they gave me what I needed and wanted without me even asking. They could tell by my body language what I wanted, and promptly came over to tend to me. That’s service. When service falls short, at a nice, fine-dining place, along with the quality of food, typical tips would be 15-25%.

I have no problems with anyone asking for the reason of a lower amount of tip. I’m happy to let you know what I expect as a customer. And hopefully you will be able to please a wider range of patrons from my comments, and next time I come back you will receive a bigger tip. But to be spoken to like that by a fast-food place was absolutely unacceptable. I enjoy your food, but I do not have to be subjected to verbal abuse. I will be telling everyone to avoid your place now. Thanks for reaffirming my belief of you get what you deserve.

~ kehwon

Patati Patata Friterie de Luxe on Urbanspoon

Le Vieux Velo – Mile End

A while back, tfung came to visit me in Montreal. Needless to say, we went to eat at different locations all over the city. Since Mtl is known for brunches, I decided to look up a place where we could go to. This was the joint that I found, and I have to say, it seemed extremely far at the time, but since I had planned my work well, I had the whole weekend free with tfung.

After the brief walk from the bus stop, I was super excited because the scenery had transitioned from sketchy industrial area to hipster lofts and cute cafes. We walked in and got a seat right away.

Le Vieux Velo is a small restaurant that specializes in Eggs Benedict. Obviously we went for just that.

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I got l’Atlantique, which was topped with smoked salmon and capers. tfung got the Florentine, with ham and spinach. Both came with home-cooked potato wedges, and topped off with their secret recipe Hollandaise sauce.

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This was probably the best eggs benedict I’d had to this date. The sauce (which I don’t even want to think about how much butter was used) was absolutely amazing. It was so smooth, full of flavour, creamy and doesn’t leave your mouth with that fat-feeling.

In terms of the two different dishes, I liked the Florentine more. The smoked salmon didn’t do much in terms of texture, and the taste didn’t go too well with the eggs, in my opinion. The capers were just a burst of saltiness from time to time and was annoying to keep on the fork.

For the florentine, the ham was chewy enough, and the spinach added that leafy green texture, working very well with the gooey center of the yolk and the creaminess of the hollandaise sauce.

The muffins were quite good. They were lightly toasted to add a slight crunch, but still retained the softness, so it is not too difficult to cut or to chew. There were many times that I had eggs benedict where each bite I was left chewing a tough muffin.

The potato wedges were done very well, and tfung really liked them. He loved the crunch on the outside and the seasoning. It had a slight spiciness to it (black pepper), and wasn’t too salty. The inside of the wedges were piping hot, indicative of it being fresh off the pan.

Overall I love this brunch place. Although it’s a little far, I don’t mind going on a fairly nice day. You do have to wait if you go during the Sunday brunch time, but I usually can avoid it. Their eggs benedict are a must if you do pay them a visit. But I haven’t tried any other dishes on their menu, and to be honest, I feel like I can’t deviate from their benedicts.

Service: 3.5/5
Food: 8.7/10
Atmosphere: hipster, diner, wooden furniture
Price: $15-20

Le Vieux Velo on Urbanspoon

~ kehwon

Park Sushi – Westmount

So in celebration of finishing our exams, we decided to treat ourselves to one of the most talked about sushi restaurants in Montreal. It has been quoted by MANY as the “best sushi restaurant in Montrela”. Hence, we wanted to see how “good” it is. Equipped in our team were foodies T, M, K, a Japanese authentic A, and myself. M, A and myself have all been to Japan and definitely had the best sushi of our lives there. We were excited to be able to find a place that might be able to match the quality of sushi there.

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So we arrived, and I was honestly very nervous. After our last horrible experience at Maiko, we hoped this would not be a disappointment. We were seated promptly, as T made a reservation. The waitress was very friendly, not intrusive and quite detailed. She realized that some of us couldn’t see the cocktail menu as the menus are on the three walls of the restaurant, and the angling of our seat made it impossible to see. She then ran through the list very efficiently, highlighting key ingredients without any memory lapse. Amazing. She then proceeded to explain to us the main menu.

T had ordered the kimchi Caesar, which is a regular Caesar, with kimchi juices added, garnished with a few pieces of kimchi as well. I hadn’t tried it but she said ti was very tasty. The kimchi added an interesting twist to Caesar. I’m not a huge fan of Caesars, but if you are and like the taste of kimchi, this might be one amazing drink for you. The other drinks on the menu were quite interesting too. They had a Yuzu Gin and Tonic (I was extremely tempted), Lychee Mojito, just to name a couple. I love that they just put an extra ingredient to very basic and common drinks. They don’t overdo it with too many added ingredients, ending up with a nasty tasting concoction

We decided that we would just share the sushi sets and try how good their fish was. We settled for the Sashimi Moriawase (18 pcs, 5-6 types of different fish), the Nigiri Moriawase (12 pcs, 6 types of fish), the Seasonal Maki (8-9 pcs), and the Chef Special Maki (8-9 pcs). The exact menu changes as they will change up the types of fish served in accordance to market pricing, and what’s in season.

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Regrettably, I don’t remember all the fish that we were served, but it included Salmon, Tuna, Red Snapper, Albacore and Mackerel. This was for both the sashimi and the nigiri. The sashimi was served with three dipping sauces which were absolutely amazing. The first was a sesame carrot oil mixture, very thin and didn’t appeal too much to me. The second was the basil edamame, which was absolutely amazing. The third was a mixture of cilantro, celery and tomato, chopped up with some spices. This was also very good, slightly sour and had an interesting punch to it.

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The Nigiri was garnished with different types of ingredients, including Spanish Caviar, chives, green onion. Some were also very lightly drizzled with a sauce, making the flavours more interesting, as well as melding the garnishes with the fish. I’ve been to several “Japanese fusion” restaurants to this day, and this has definitely got to be the most well done combinations I’ve ever tasted.

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The Seasonal Maki was a massive roll filled with salmon, tuna, albacore tartare in the centre, wrapped with rice and then seaweed. On top, there was a seared piece of Eel, thoroughly marinated and some more garnishings. This was absolutely amazing, and was packed with rich flavours, and was my favourite dish.

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The Chef Special Maki was an even more elaborate roll, with the same tartare as the Seasonal Maki, but the garnishings were different. It came with seared albacore, drizzled with truffle oil, topped with a slice of jalepeno peppers and a dollop of carrot puree. It was served with spicy mayo next to it for you to indulge if you so please. To be honest I didn’t taste the truffle oil, but the carrot puree and the jalopeno was genius. The spiciness of the jalapeno worked with the tartare amazingly, and the carrot puree just added that lighter taste and texture to make it interesting. I didn’t taste much of the albacore though.

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As the night was winding down, we started craving for dessert. We had heard from our waitress that there was a hazelnut cake (this was part of their $75, 5-course tasting menu). We decided to hear what other desserts they had, which included a mousse pot, with lime yoghurt at the bottom, followed by poached persimmons and chocolate mousse, then topped with a chocolate brownie on top. It came in a cute mason jar. I didn’t order it because the lime yoghurt put me off, even though I was dying to try the persimmons. They also had Seaseme, Green Tea icecream, but I wasn’t interested. So I went for the hazelnut cake. It came with two pieces of cleanly poached pear (no sauce or reductions), and pear cream on top. To decorate the plate,  pear purée  and chocolate sauce, with a small sprinkling of roughly groundhazelnuts. The cake was very dense, yet retained a lot of moisture. M, who is a patisserie chef, was wary of this cake as they are usually dry, went with the mousse pot. However, even she was surprised at the texture of the cake. The pear cream on top had a slight saltiness to it, adding amazing complexity to the whole dish.

Obviously, this is no Tsukiji Market, and we’re not being served purely the freshest fish, so don’t come in expecting that. However, they do a good job with trying to get the freshest fish they can, and create extremely interesting combinations, giving true meaning to fusion. I thoroughly enjoyed my whole experience there. Unlike most other places, which overdo the sauces and garnishings, completely masking any trace of the flavours of the fish, Park Sushi uses their additions wisely to complement the flavours of different fish. They understand the importance of getting fresh fish, and therefore did not have any set fish that’s always available on the menu.

As a note, They do omakase ($95) tasting menu which is more sushi-based than the #75 tasting menu. Both comes with soup, salad and a dessert, but the two mains are different.

I did think that they served the food a little slow, but we didn’t get any appetizers, which may have made a difference in the time we had to wait for our mains. The price is a little on the expensive side, but Montreal is not a city full of sushi options, so I’m definitely willing to pay this price. I ended up paying $50 after tax and tips, which wasn’t as bad as I thought it would’ve been. Finally, the service was quite good. It had the standards of a fine dining restaurant. They are very particular about the positioning of their bodies and limbs as they pour you water, and how they set the plates down. Obviously we moved it around to better suit our hungry needs, but you can see that they want you to enjoy the atmosphere and the mood. I absolutely loved that I never once felt rushed, or felt like I was kept waiting too long. The size of the restaurant and the layout allows the waiters and waitresses to be aware of all the customers easily

If you have a couple extra bucks to spend, and you’re a sushi lover, I do recommend this place. It has got to be the best sushi I’ve had in Montreal thus far. Our next adventure in this category will likely be Juni.

Service: 4/5
Food: 9.0/10
Atmosphere: chic, modern, fusion, rustic
Price: $40-60

Park Restaurant on Urbanspoon

~ kehwon

Dolcetto – Old Port

I called up a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time and we decided to come to Dolcetto. I had wanted to try this place on several occasions, having passed by it several times.

This restaurant does Italian-style tapas, which was something I hadn’t really tried before. I’m all for spanish tapas but was a little weary about Italian tapas…I do love my pastas!

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As a result of my craving for pasta, we ordered the Homemade Gnocchi with Truffle Cream. I have to say the look of this was not very good. It came in a dish of about 15-20 gnocchi’s , drenched in a thin truffle cream. It was very plain-looking and didn’t appeal too much to me. However, as soon as I bit into it, it was absolutely delicious! The gnocchi was of a soft, chewy, sticky consistency, and the potato mixture inside was surprisingly flavourful. The truffle cream provided that extra bit of flavour, and the fact that it was of a thin, almost soupy consistency made balance with the thick texture of the gnocchi. The spiciness of the pepper just peaked through and I kept wanting more.

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We also ordered the dish of the night, which is the Arancini with portobello mushrooms inside, topped with parmesan cheese and served with a tomato-based thin sauce that had a taste of tabasco sauce. Arancini are Italian-styled rice balls, and these were massive. I didn’t enjoy these very much, mostly because I didn’t like the sauce, but the arancini was too dry to eat by itself. The portabello mushrooms also didn’t add any significant amount of flavour to the dish, which was extremely disappointing.

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One of the main categories of dishes there was pizzas, so we ordered one. We went with the Bianca style pizza with squash, pancetta and mozzarella. Bianca pizzas are those without tomato sauce, just the pizza crust and cheese on top. The squash was sliced very thinly and seasoned with herbs. The pancetta is a type of bacon, adding just the right amount of meaty goodness to the pizza. The mozzarella was of a melted, creamier consistency. I thought this was quite well done. The portion size was perfect, and the mix of ingredients was also good. I like that they kept it simple, minimizing the number of ingredients they put onto each pizza, so I’d definitely recommend getting at least one of these!

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Finally, we had the veal cheek braised in red wine, which was coincidentally served with mashed squash. We were a little sad that we had squash in two dishes, but since both dishes were quite good, we enjoyed it. The veal cheek was tender, but was a little difficult to cut as they didn’t give us very good knives, and the piece was quite thick. There was some soft cartilage that was in there, which was a little annoying. Overall, I thought this dish was okay, but perhaps my expectations had been a little high. The flavour and texture is good, but it didn’t wow me.

I do have to say that their service is quite casual. As I walked in, the Hostess had wanted to leave the area even though she saw me coming, but since I had made eye contact with her, she had to stop half way and come back to greet me. I could totally see her thought process, where for a step and a half through her walk, she contemplated not greeting me right away. Furthermore, when I told her we had made reservations, she told me to just sit at “that middle table there”. There were two “middle tables”. She just pointed and then left to do something that I guessed was far more important.

Finally, I didn’t get any menus for at least 10 minutes. A little disappointed at that, but perhaps it’s because they want a more casual atmosphere. But in my opinion you can be casual without being cold and uncaring.

Service: 3/5
Food: 8.3/10
Atmosphere: cozy, casual, cute trinkets for decor
Price: $30-50
Dolcetto & Co. on Urbanspoon

Maison Christian Faure – Old Port

So another patisserie adventure with my good friend Tamishka. She had found this patisserie and linked me one day. We got extremely excited to come here and try. Mainly because the chef is fairly famous and this patisseries is actually a pastry shop in the lower level. Christian Faure earned the title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France Glacier after studying many years in Paris to become a pastry chef. He was awarded the Best Pastry Chef of the World Title after opening a shop in Old Port Montreal.

Needless to say, it was a must-try.

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I for one am huge on restaurant decor, ambiance and service. My philosophy is that I don’t need to have good food in a restaurant if I’m not getting all the other aspects that come with eating out. I could make a good meal at home (although not AS good), but it really is ultimately the atmosphere that makes the meal for me. I love the modern and slightly victorian touch of the decor. While the white makes the restaurant extremely feminine, the stone wall gives back the masculin balance. Just being in this environment makes me extremely happy and positive-feeling. All the small touches to the shop is amazing. The more detail-oriented a restaurant is, the higher expectation of the food I have.

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Super cute menu display

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We were extremely amused by the cute display of quinoa salad in these little plastic globes. We didn’t order this, but I love these little details they add to the presentation.

Unfortunately, we were informed that the hot food menu stops service at 3pm, so we weren’t able to get the savoury dishes we wanted. But we settled for some tarts instead.

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The walnut tart really caught my eye. I definitely thought that it was fitting for the cold chilling weather we’ve been getting. It was glazed and filled with a rich caramel sauce that would flow out when you cut into the tart. The caramel sauce combatted the bitterness that comes with walnuts perfectly. It was so simple yet so alluring. I didn’t find the caramel to be too sweet, and had a nice thick consistency without drying or choking you.

The Chocolate Cream tart was very rich and bitter. It was definitely made with dark chocolate, and had a thin layer of chocolate sauce on top, thick sturdy cream and ganache in the middle. The tarte itself was glazed with some lighter chocolate sauce to avoid an inconsistent look. The three little decor on the top were made of chocolate pieces and chocolate cream. I was a little taken aback at first at the taste of this. I had imagined it to be more on the sweet side, and much more mousse-like. However, the interior of this was thick and sturdy, without that drying feeling. The bitterness of it gave it depth and obviously the different textures and consistencies made it all the more interesting even though the whole tart was chocolate flavoured.

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Tarte aux Noix, Tarte chocolat crémeux fleur de sel

We also got two fig macarons to try. I thought they were done well, but nothing that I hadn’t experienced elsewhere. I thought it could be more true to being fig-flavoured, since the filling had a good amount of chocolate butter cream in it.

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Obviously I want to try all of their pastries, but wasn’t able to in one go. I’m interested in that giant pink macaron, but am unsure whether I’d be able to handle it! Theres some cream pots at the back that look delicious as well 🙂

Overall I thought this patisserie gave me a good impression. I can’t comment much because I feel that I hadn’t explored much of the shop, and want to go back to get another taste to give a better view and verdict. I hope you’ll come here and have an afternoon tea with your best girlfriend, or drag your unwilling boyfriend here before 3pm so he can have some of the savoury dishes. The braised beef cheek served with creamy macaroni and morel mushrooms, and the Royal Lobster and Crab on Choux pastry are on my list to try on that menu!

~ kehwon