Colette Grand Cafe – Fashion District

So for my birthday (which was about a month ago), tfung took me to the buzz of the town for quite some time, Colette Grand Café. He knew I’d love the décor, and that I was missing the french pizazz as I’d been away from Montreal for some time at this point.

Walking in, the visual impact was stunning of course. As we had an early dinner on a weekday (Tuesday), the place was quite empty. Personally, I prefer this, as it is much more romantic and intimate this way.

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Maison Boulud – Golden Square Mile

tfung and I had the pleasure of celebrating some special occasions all in one. It’s our 4 year anniversary in two months, I’ve finished school and just have internship now, and he had just finished carms tour. We’re moving on in our lives to the next stage and we’re both very excited. So we decided to spend some money on a nice meal. Since he was visiting Montreal, I proposed going to Maison Boulud, which is by the famous Daniel Boulud, a glamorous restaurant located inside the Ritz-Carlton Montreal.

We glammed up for the occasion, which ended up being a little awkward, as when we first walked in, we saw two people in jeans and a v-neck sweater. But I thought, it’s our night, we want to make it special. We were seated near the fireplace, and the waitress came to make sure we were comfortable. She briefly explained the menu, as we had inquired about the tasting menu.

The tasting menu is $95, and +$90 with wine pairing. She informed us that it would be an amuse bouche, and appetizer, a pasta, a fish, a meat, and a dessert. The dishes would come from the a la carte menu that we were given.

In the end, we decided on just getting an appetizer and a main dish each. Thus, the dinner began.

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Bouillon Bilk (Newly renovated) – Latin Quarter

Since tfung’s parents came into town, we decided to bring them to some of our favourite spots. On the second night, we brought them to the newly renovated Bouillon Bilk. I was quite excited to see their new decor, since I had caught a glimpse of it whilst walking back to the Grand Prix on Saint Laurent, and it had looked incredibly sleek and modern.

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The menu had changed quite a bit since I was last here, but definitely still had  the flair of the old Bouillon Bilk. They had refreshed the menu for the summer, which was great to see, and the desserts were completely new.

I started off with the linguine which was one of the specials. The pasta was done a little over al dente, a consistency I like, and was mixed in a buttery sauce that had hints of seafood flavours. Along with the linguine were chanterelle mushrooms, and garnish. Definitely a great dish on its own, I thought they were able to bring out the flavour of the chanterelle mushrooms well, without overpowering the sauce and the linguine. The slight crunch in the mushroom and its lighter consistency was a good contrast to the firmer, denser texture of the linguine.2014-06-21 19.43.39

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Lobster Soup
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Foie Gras served with Polenta

As for tfung, he started off with the asparagus appetizer, which came with asparagus purée. It was also served with veal tongue and a sunny-side up egg on top. To start, the presentation of this dish was fantastic. The purées were arranged nicely and was sprinkled with micro greens. The veal tongue was cooked very nicely. It was soft, but still had firmness in its texture. It was not overseasoned, but rather seasoned conservatively with salt just to bring out the natural flavours of the meat. Pairing it with the asparagus puree gave it that summer freshness that it needed. The egg on top was a nice addition to the dish, providing a bit more sustenance and flavour to the veal tongue. Adding the rich and earthy morel mushrooms was also a nice touch. Overall a very good dish in terms of presentation, creativity and combinations of flavours.

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Asparagus and Veal Tongue

I was able to taste a bit of the carrot risotto, and let me say this: definition of summer. I love how they’ve (in my opinion) a seemingly boring and over-done dish and freshened its colour and its flavour to fit the heat. The carrot base in the sauce of the risotto was light and slightly sweet. It was definitely a good start to the meal.

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Carrot Risotto

For me, I ordered the octopus with sweetbread. This was definitely the priciest of the dishes, but well worth it. The octopus was done to perfection: enough texture and chewiness on the inside without being difficult to chew, while retaining its true octopus taste; crispy on the outside, with an ever so slight smokey taste. The contrast in the texture and the flavour was great. The sweetbread was fried on the outside with a light batter, and retained a soft texture on the inside without overcooking it to a mushy consistency. To go with the fried sweetbread was a sour and slightly spicy, sriracha-based sauce. Finally, fiddleheads, mushroom and sliced pear as sides along with some greens for garnish.

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Octopus and Sweetbread

The rabbit was roasted perfectly. It was soft, tender and juicy. Wrapping the rabbit with bacon wasn’t really necessary as the rabbit was tasty enough, but the bacon certainly enhanced the flavour. It was served with a rabbit au jus that was sweet and savory, which complimented the rabbit well.

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Rabbit wrapped in bacon
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Scallops and Chanterelle mushrooms
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Side: Fiddle Heads with almonds
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Halibut
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Baba with strawberries, rhubarb and mascarpone

Overall, Bouillon Bilk had given me a refresh in terms of modern dining. I thought they did an excellent job in balancing delicacy with creativity and thinking outside the box. They were innovative, yet still incorporated elements according to the season, which I believe is crucial for a more modern dining experience. As delicious as a heavy truffle cream gnocchi is, it just isn’t as enjoyable in the heat of the summer. The service was quite good, not outstanding for the calibre of restaurant it is.

The decor was absolutely stunning. I love the bar in the middle, creating a more relaxed feel, especially for the younger clientele. There were three longer tables that were of higher elevation (a very popular setting now), which I personally love, but is not for everyone. Their washroom is extremely modern, with the style of communal hand washing station in front of 3-4 individual rooms solely for the toilet. This may not sit well with more traditional folks, but for me, I absolutely love it.

I highly recommend you to come try their summer menu. Make sure to make a reservation, and let them know of any delay or cancellations!

Service: 4/5
Food: 9.3/10
Atmosphere: modern, fresh, clean, white-table cloth meets industrial
Price: $40-60

~ kehwon and tfung

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

Bouillon Bilk – Latin Quartier

I had met a really good friend in Montreal standing at the bus stop. It was a little weird and random, but if I hadn’t said anything, we wouldn’t have met each other. It would have been such a shame because we’ve been to so many places to eat, and we are still finding new places. She actually recommended me to try Bouillon Bilk as she had a great time with her parents when they came to visit. I had gone with tfung once and with said friend another time. This restaurant is quite expensive, so it is definitely not a frequent visit. However they definitely take care in presentation (which is a huge plus for me), and delicacy. Their service is also excellent (as it should be for the price!). On the first visit, we had ordered an appetizer and entrée each. We had skipped on the dessert because we wanted to eat elsewhere after.

For me, I had the Beet Salad to start

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Beet Salad

I thought the presentation was absolutely amazing. The fact that they took care to use a cutter to make all the beets circular, but different sizes added a lot of visual stimulation. The beets were also different colour, making it so much more interesting, as well as adding different flavours for the same type of vegetable. I’m actually a huge fan of this because it really allows you to taste how different each specific type tastes from another. This can help you when you create your own dishes. Moreover, I had been very interested in quinoa at this time (about a year ago), and had a taste in this dish. They actually fried it a little and gave it a brown colour and an awesome crunch that was just enough for this salad. The salad was accompanied with Halloumi Cheese which I had never had. It was slightly fried to give a brown complexion, and was very mild-flavoured. It also had a spongey consistency, similar to cheese curds. Finally the salad was topped off with fresh raspberries (one of my favourite fruits) and a balsamic vinaigrette. I thought that the presentation made this dish so much better than it would have been if it had just been thrown together. The ingredients are sparse, but all the different colours and placement made eating it so much more enjoyable. In terms of taste, it tasted as you would think, no surprises there. tfung ordered a bone marrow for his appetizer.

Bone Marrow
Bone Marrow

It was fittingly presented in a bone, likely to be a femur. The bone marrow was mixed in with escargot and celery pieces to give it some crunch. tfung wasn’t too impressed with it, even though it was quite tasty. He said it wasn’t as rich as he would have imagined, which was actually good because his main dish was incredibly rich and flavourful. To add flavour, they included garlic in the dish, but wasn’t too overpowering. For our mains, tfung had Guinea Fowl with Polenta and I had Scallops with Mushrooms.

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Guinea Fowl with Polenta
guinea fowl
Guinea Fowl with Polenta

The guinea fowl was incredibly tender yet still had a good chewy texture. The skin was also still intact, which added a more bold flavour as it was roasted. Topped off with foie gras and a rich reduction, this made for a hearty dish. IT was jam-packed with flavour, but in a good way. They added walnuts and figs to balance this, which was an excellent touch. Personally I love fruits in main courses as it adds sweetness and a different texture than vegetables can. Especially with fruits like figs or plums. The polenta was done to a smooth texture, and of course was what toned down the flavour in this dish, as it doesn’t carry much taste.

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Scallops with Oyster Mushrooms

Although I usually am not impressed with scallops and think that they’re not worth the price at a restaurant, I was thoroughly and pleasantly surprised by this dish. The sauce definitely made this dish. The waiter had hinted that a lot of butter was put into it, so it made sense it was so fragrant and rich. It was a butter-mushroom infusion, I believe and was absolutely amazing with every bite. Definitely if you don’t like mushroom, you shouldn’t get this dish. Again the presentation is incredible, and I did get quite a few pieces of scallops. With the scallops, there were grilled zucchinis and oyster mushrooms which were obvious additions due to the mushroom sauce. The scallops were cooked to the point where the inside was almost raw. Only one side of the scallop was seared which I found interesting and unique. I wouldn’t say that the textures or colours in this dish were particularly enticing, but I really enjoyed it. As a tradition to this restaurant, the servers will personally explain every and each dish on the menu as well as any additional specials they had that night. They also never forget to tell you the prices of the specials, which with all the information they have to know, I found to be quite a feat to achieve. On my second visit with my good friend C., we went with a few more friends, and was a bigger party. We were basically seated at the same place I was on my visit with tfung, so I felt a sense of familiarity.

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Tomato Salad

To start, I shared a tomato salad with my friend. Again, they had different coloured and types of tomato (romano, cherry) which I love. There was also a small sprinkling of arugula accompanied with small spheres of canteloupe. Visually, it wasn’t as good as I thought they could have made it. Tomatoes are fruits/vegetables (depending on which side you’re arguing from) that can be extremely vibrant. Yet they chose to use some bland colours and it just didn’t do it for me. Taste-wise, it was also bland. They didn’t pick the tomatoes that encompassed different and distinct flavours. Especially the yellow larger tomatoes, they had almost no taste. Maybe it was my obsession with tomatoes, or maybe I had too high expectations. Either way, I was definitely disappointed by this.

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For my main, I went for the good old ricotta cheese ravioli on top of some pieces of lamb, served with tomatoes and pine nuts. Ravioli can be tricky to get just right and for some reason, I’ve had some really bad ravioli before. These ones were definitely what I would consider to be up to par and as they should be. The pasta was soft enough to not be difficult to chew through but definitely had texture. The cheese wasn’t too overpowering which was wonderful for me since I’m not a cheese lover. *insert boos and tomato throwing here*. The lamb was tender, not too gamey but wasn’t too overly infused with flavours to completely overthrow and off-balance the whole dish. I actually really liked that there wasn’t any one main player in this, and that they all worked together. When I ate it, I made sure I had a piece of everything (except maybe the tomato since that was a little sparse), and it was quite good.

I feel that although I was disappointed with the tomato salad, the restaurant’s expertise with food overall is definitely to be trusted. There is no doubt that the dishes they produce are of high quality, and they change the menu often enough to keep things interesting. At least for the frequency that I come, it wasn’t that I was met with the exact same menu. I’d say about half the menu had changed, and the ones that remained had been tweaked.

Service: 4.5/5
Food: 9.3/10
Atmosphere: Expensive, simple
Price: $40-60 per person

Bouillon Bilk on Urbanspoon

Holder – Old Port Montreal

This was one of the first restaurants I went with my new found friends in Montreal. I’m not sure whose idea it was but it wasn’t something that I found myself. After that first time, I’ve come back many many times and it’s been tried and true in my books. Other than the fact that their signature dishes are ALWAYS this good, it’s not impossible to get a reservation and the price is very reasonable. It just makes it so easy to come here to eat!

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I had come back tonight with my parents and we ordered a Salmon Tartare with Mujjol Caviar to share as an appetizer. The dish was quite good but I didn’t think there was anything special compared to other salmon tartares I’ve had. However it should be noted that they do give you a fair amount for 11.50.

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True to form, I had ordered the Duck Confit. At 21.50, this dish is a must have. The duck is so tender and moist on the inside but fried and slightly cripsy on the outside. It is served on my favourite salad, arugula, dressed with truffle oil. There are also some fingerling potatoes at the bottom. Aesthetically, this dish does not look very appetizing. However when you start eating, it is very rich. The truffle oil made the salad taste amazing, as it often does. There wasn’t much else in the salad which was fine as it was so rich already. The potatoes were done well.

On other occasions, tfung and I ordered the Buffalo Mozzarella salad dressed with balsamic reduction and pine nuts.

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It was absolutely delicious, very fresh tomatoes and the cheese was not overwhelming, as I do not like very strong cheeses. I loved the balsamic reduction and the pine nuts added a nice touch.

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tfung and I ordered the duck confit as well as mussel and fries. The mussels were quite good, but they weren’t the best I’ve had. They weren’t the freshest mussels, as they did shrink quite a bit. It did come in a very large portion for 20.50 though. The house fries were quite good and were served with mayonnaise.

Overall, I love this restaurant and the service is decent. It can become very noisy especially later at night. There is a wide range of people dressing up and dressing down, which is nice to know that you could go in shorts and they will not give you snooty looks. One thing I would complain about is that this restaurant is a little heavy on the salt.

Service: 3.5/5
Food: 8.5/10
Atmosphere: casual, lively, bistro
Price: $20-30

Holder on Urbanspoon

~ kehwon

Quartier Général – Plateau Mont-Royal

As we started to get to know each other better, one of my very good foodie friends in Montreal suggested that I come to this restaurant. She had said all her friends came back with positive reviews, and I knew she and I had similar standards for food. So I took her up on this recommendation and decided to come here with tfung. I made reservations for 2 on a Saturday about two weeks in advance with no problem with timing.

The restaurant seats about 40, and has this metalic linoleum ceiling. The kitchen is semi-open and there is also a bar. We were seated right away, and I noticed they had an advanced reservation/seating computer program with very nice interface.

When we were seated, the waiter asked if we brought any wines. Apparently this place is porter vin, allowing customers to bring their own wines. The reason is because they do not supply any wines themselves. I think this is great because my parents are the type who like to bring a very specific type of wine to a restaurant because my dad is a wine enthusiast. It’s also great because it’s then much cheaper for us to enjoy the wine.

Unfortunately we didn’t know this so we just went without alcohol for the night.

We weren’t supplied with any menus because the full menu is on the chalkboard above the bar. Everything is in french, but if you have a smartphone it’s not much of a problem. Also the waitress will come and tell you most of the menu when she comes to introduce herself.

We decided to get the Table d’hôte for $12 on top of the price of the main dish. It comes with a soup or salad, an appetizer and of course the main.

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We started with the octopus appetizer (Tarte Fine à la pieuvre). It was quite delicious and fresh with the herbs. I quite enjoyed it. I did think it was a bit small but it’s meant for one.

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We waited a little while and the waitress came by to give us our knives. It was the cutest and most hipster knife I’ve seen at a restaurant so far. I loved it and wanted to take it home!

tfung ordered the veal (Côte de veau de la Plaine). He thought it was very good, and done to his liking (medium rare). We both loved the presentation, the sauce and the combination.

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I ordered the duck (Canard de Marieville). It was really really good. It came with grapes and other veggies, potato purée, with a rich sauce. The duck was very tender but still had proper texture. Every bite along with the grapes and the purée was amazing. I savoured every bite of this.

We were both quite full, but since we did have dessert, we did get the crème brulée. It was a pretty big portion and we couldn’t finish. Nothing extraordinary, but I did enjoy the whole of it

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Overall I really enjoyed the whole experience. I love that two sides of the restaurant was full windows, allowing for lots of light (great for taking pics on our phones!). It was quite loud though, as it was just one room with quite a lot of people in it. But we still really enjoyed it and it’d be a great dinner date with couples or friends. I saw some families there as well who were there to enjoy their wines along with the amazing dinners.

The service was good, although I thought it was a little slow. However they were very attentive, smart and understanding. They seem to have been working at a restaurant for a while, and know what customers want without excessive explanations.

I definitely recommend this place and I will definitely come back in the future (with some wine!). It is a little out of the way if you don’t own a car, but definitely worth the trip!

Service: 4/5
Food: 8.3/10
Atmosphere: spacious, chatty
Price: $20-40

Le Quartier Général on Urbanspoon

~ kehwon